On November 12, the United States and the People’s Republic of China began to reciprocally increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas and student and exchange visas issued to each other’s citizens. Chinese applicants who qualify for B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant visas may now be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and tourist travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J nonimmigrant visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program. U.S. citizens eligible for Chinese short-term business and tourist visas should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years, while qualified U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program. All qualified dependent family members of students and exchange visitors will also be eligible for these same increases in visa validity.

The same standards of eligibility for a U.S. visa will apply as before the extension in validity, and the change in visa validity does NOT change the permitted duration of stay for any other visa class. Applicants with previous visas still will be eligible to apply for visa renewal via the Interview Waiver Program. The changed visa validity will not change visa application fees.

One should note that existing visas will be valid only until the expiration date printed on the current visa. This extension does NOT increase the validity of visas already issued. To obtain a visa with extended validity, holders of valid or recently expired visas will need to apply again.