The measures came into effect yesterday and are a bid to boost the number of foreigners coming to China for business, study, and travel, which has remained sluggish since the full reopening of borders in March 2023. According to CGTN, the mainland saw only a 63 percent recovery in tourism numbers in 2023, when compared with pre-pandemic 2019.
Now, last minute business travellers can apply for their visas at major entry ports – rather than going through a lengthier process in their own country – provided they have supporting documents. Also, foreigners transiting through mainland China, whose connecting flights are within 24 hours, are exempt from immigration procedures at nine international airports.
The process for obtaining a multiple-entry visa has also been simplified, as have visa extensions and renewals for eligible travellers, including those on family reunion trips. For example, while foreigners used to be required to provide proof of kinship to get short-term family reunion visas, they can now submit a simple declaration of kinship by their invitee.
Last December, the Chinese mainland began trialling visa-free travel for French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Malaysian citizens. The unilateral policy reportedly yielded positive results, with a 39 percent rise in daily arrivals from the six countries.
The NIA’s deputy director, Liu Haiti, told CGTN that his office would “continue to improve immigration management services and policies, accelerate institutional opening-up, and create a first-class business environment.”