US relaxes visa requirements for biz, tourism
The United States and China have agreed to a reciprocal visa arrangement with both sides offering 12-month multiple-entry business and tourist visas.
The long-awaited move will greatly facilitate travel between the two countries, the embassy said in a statement.
US embassies and consulates "will begin issuing to otherwise qualified Chinese citizens, who wish to visit the United States temporarily for business or pleasure, visas that are valid for 12 months and multiple entries," the embassy said.
Americans would enjoy the same privileges on visits to China, it added.
Diplomatic notes on the agreement were exchanged by the two sides in December. The agreement goes into effect on January 15.
"The embassy believes this mutual extension of visa reciprocity will be a significant benefit to frequent travelers between China and the United States," the statement said.
"The longer validity of visas means these frequent travelers will not have to renew their visas so frequently, saving time and money and making travel more convenient."
Both sides reserved the right to limit the issuance and validity of the visas on a case by case basis, it said.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the US implemented higher visa requirements which made it much more difficult for Chinese business people, students and tourists to travel to the United States.
China reciprocated with increased restrictions on travel by Americans.
Among the most vocally opposed to the tougher visa requirements were US businesspeople, who complained of difficulties in getting their Chinese business partners and associates into the US and their US-based people into China.