By Qian Zhou
As of January 11, 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) has formally implemented five measures aimed at facilitating the arrival of foreign nationals in China. These measures encompass four initiatives related to visa applications and one focused on border inspection. The objective of these measures is to streamline the entry process for foreign nationals, fostering ease of travel for purposes such as business, education, and tourism. This initiative aligns with China’s broader strategy of promoting openness and international engagement.
Five new initiatives targeting inbound travelers
Requirements relaxed for foreigners applying for port visas
Foreigners who urgently need to come to China for non-diplomatic or official activities—such as business cooperation, visits and exchanges, investment and entrepreneurship, visiting relatives, and dealing with personal affairs—and have no time to obtain visas abroad, can apply for port visas from port visa authorities by presenting their invitation letter and other relevant documents.
Foreign nationals on 24 hours direct transit exempt from border inspection procedures at 9 airports
International passengers subject to 24-hour visa-free transit will be exempt from border inspection procedures at nine international airports—Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, and Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.
Entry and exit passengers who transit to a third country or region through any of the above-mentioned airports with an international connecting ticket within 24 hours can directly transit without a visa.
Facilitating easier process for visa extension and renewal
Foreign nationals coming to China for short-term non-diplomatic or official activities, such as business cooperation, visits and exchanges, investment and entrepreneurship, visiting relatives, sightseeing, and dealing with personal affairs—and who have legitimate and reasonable reasons to continue their stay in the country—may apply for visa extension and renewal at the Exit and Entry Administration of the Public Security Bureau at their place of stay.
Provision of re-entry visas for foreigners who need to enter and exit the country multiple times
Foreign nationals in China who need to enter and exit the country multiple times for legitimate and reasonable reasons may apply to the Exit and Entry Administration of the Public Security Bureau for issuing a multiple-entry visa, by providing the invitation letter and other relevant certification materials.
When applying for relevant visas to China, foreigners whose documentation, such as temporary residence registration records, business licenses, and other relevant data, can be accessed by authorities through official information sharing mechanisms will be exempted from submitting these documents for verification.
Foreigners in China who apply for short-term family visit and reunion visas can use a family relationship statement provided by the inviter instead of a kinship certificate.
The Chinese government continues to ramp up measures to boost people-to-people exchange since reopening country borders in early 2023, in a bid to promote consumption and support economic recovery.
Many of the visa-free travel policies that were in place prior to the pandemic have therefore come back into effect, enabling people from a wide range of countries to visit China on a short-term basis.
New visa measures have also been introduced, such as the unilateral visa-free travel for holders of ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia, the proposed mutual 30-day visa-free travel arrangement between China and Singapore, the reduction of visa application fees, and the permanent visa-free arrangement between China and Thailand.
With economic growth still one of China’s top priorities for 2024, as revealed in the Central Economic Work Conference, more visa and travel facilitation measures can be expected, to further improve the countries’ business environment and attract more inbound travelers and investment.
This article was first published by China Briefing, which is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, India, and Russia. Readers may write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more support.