Between 7,000 and 8,000 10-year visas have been issued to Chinese citizens by the US Consulate General in Shanghai since a new visa policy came into effect last Wednesday.
Consulate officials said they expected an increase in applicants due to the policy change and will deploy more staff if needed to keep the visa processing time to the current 5 days.
The scheme is a long-term reciprocal commitment between China and US and the vast majority of tourists and businesspeople in China will be granted 10-year visas, so people with no current travel plans should not rush to apply, said John M. Grondelski, visa unit chief at the consulate.
US officials also stressed that a 10-year visa does not mean its holder can stay in US for 10 years.
Instead, it means the owner can travel between China and the US multiple times on a single visa during the 10-year period.
The permitted length of stay is determined by the visa category.
Visa validity may vary based on individual circumstances of each case, added officials.
“This is the most important change in our consulate relationship with China since we established diplomatic relations 35 years ago,” said Max Baucus, United States Ambassador to China, in a video news conference yesterday between the US embassy in Beijing and US consulates.
“This new arrangement will be more convenient and save a lot of money for travelers,” Baucus added.
There is no change in the visa application process and the basic application fee remains unchanged at US$160.
But the new agreement means Chinese citizens who travel back and forth between the US and China will benefit from the longer validity and not having to apply and pay the application fee every year.