10 Year Visas a Sign of Better US-China Relations
As the LA Times reported earlier this week, President Obama recently announced during a visit to China that an expected policy change will allow US and Chinese citizens to freely visit each other’s countries for tourism and business continuously for up to 10 years. Student visas will also be extended to 5 years. This change will eliminate the bureaucratic hassle of obtaining visa approvals every year as before, which typically involved finding a sponsoring organization to invite and sponsor you when on a business trip or include a complete itinerary when traveling for pleasure.
Given my frequent travel to China in the past, I’m thrilled to eliminate the additional time and cost of applying for a visa. Receiving and renewing a student visa was particularly difficult, involving multiple visits and severl hours with the Chinese government system before gaining approval to continue living in Beijing. Certainly, those who travel between the US and China often feel similarly. The LA Times article projected a significant increase in Chinese investment in the US, in residential real estate and commercial interests. No doubt, travel by US citizens to China will also rise with more students studying abroad and more businesspersons seeking opportunities in the Mainland.
This is also a dramatic step forward in the two countries’ relationship. Extending the visa to 10 times the current length shows an improvement in trust between the leadership that their citizens will be welcomed abroad. The new visas also evidences how interconnected the economies have become, with citizens’ actions and interest in cross-border transactions driving the need for development in law. Each government wants to continue to encourage investment in their own markets, and to do so requires relaxation of the structures that have separated the populations in the past. I believe this is only the first of many changes that will remove barriers and create ties between the US and China in the decades to come.