China to further improve its visa policies
File photo: Travelers wait to pass through immigration checkpoints in Beijing Capital International Airport in this file photo of Jan 8, 2023. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]
The Foreign Ministry said on Oct 30 that China will continue to improve its visa policies and actively create more favorable conditions to boost cross-border travel.
The statement came a week after Chinese embassies and consulates in more than 10 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand, ceased online visa appointments in favor of walk-in visa application services.
The new system allows visitors to go directly to Chinese diplomatic missions during their operating hours and apply for a visa. After entering a visa office, the applicants are required to go through security screening, acquire a token number and wait their turn.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the new policy has yielded positive results, with the number of visas issued by diplomatic missions rebounding rapidly and the number of foreigners traveling to China rising steadily.
Since the beginning of this year, China has been improving its visa policies. The Foreign Ministry has been working with other government agencies to roll out measures to ensure smooth channels for foreigners traveling to China and facilitate efforts to achieve high-quality development and high-level opening-up, Wang said.
Following the decision to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B infectious diseases, the ministry directed embassies and consulates to extend office hours, reduce materials required for visa applications, increase staff, issue multiple-entry visas when possible and temporarily exempt applicants from registering their fingerprints, so as to make the visa process more efficient, he said.
Green lanes have been added for groups with important and urgent business or humanitarian affairs. Most Chinese embassies and consulates now provide visa appointments down to two working days in advance. There are a few Chinese missions that no longer require an online appointment, he added.
China has also signed visa-exemption agreements with Kazakhstan, Madagascar and other countries this year, increasing the total number of such mutual agreements to 155.