China / Society

Guangzhou issues more than 1 million US travel visas

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou ( Updated: 2015-12-16 17:46

The US consular post in Guangzhou became the first to process more than one million non-immigrant visa applications in a calendar year when it issued a tourist visa on Wednesday to a woman planning to visit the United States with her family.

The Consulate General Guangzhou said it had processed 1,047,838 non-immigrant applications during the past 12 months, a 65 percent increase over the previous 12-month period.

US posts around the world have issued 2.7 million non-immigrant visas to Chinese travelers in the year since the countries agreed to boost such short-term visas, an increase of about 50 percent.

Reciprocal expanded visa validity has boosted travel and tourism in both countries and encouraged more people-to-people engagement, said Charles Bennett, the consul general in Guangzhou, which approves about 90 percent of business and tourist visa applications from Chinese nationals.

As a result of the mutual agreement to increase visa validity in late 2014, the United States and China started issuing short-term business and tourist visas for up to a decade and student and exchange visas for up to five years for citizens of both nations.

"More than 98 percent of all visas issued to Chinese residents are in these categories," Bennett said. The consulate also has issued about 40,000 immigrant visas to Guangzhou residents this year.

Resident Deng Xufei, who received the millionth visa, said she would travel to the US with her husband and son. They received the consulate’s 1,000,001st and the 1,000,002nd tourist visas on Wednesday.

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