Germany to speed up visa process for Chinese
To attract Chinese business travelers, tourists and investors, Germany will speed up the visa process and extend its visa service to inner-land China by setting up more visa application centers.
During Premier Li Keqiang's current state visit to Germany, both China and Germany have agreed to try to shorten the visa process to 48 hours, which now takes at least three to five working days. For those who want to work in Germany, the visa process will speed up to two months from the current three to five months.
Germany also agreed to work actively to push the visa-waiver program for those who have diplomatic passports in China and Europe.
The moves are part of Germany's plan to facilitate mutual people-to-people exchanges by simplifying the visa process.
According to its embassy in Beijing, Germany will also issue more long-term multiple-entry visas in the future. This will help business people to travel frequently without having to apply several times for single-travels visas.
Document requirements for visa applicants will also be relaxed. Chinese business people will no longer need to provide hotel and flight bookings.
German visa sections in China rank among the largest worldwide. In 2013, Germany issued about 307,000 visas to Chinese citizens, an increase of 16 percent. About 60 percent of visa applicants are business travelers.
Li Nan, visa services manager with German Industry and Commerce Greater China, said loosened visa regulations will increase business exchanges between the two countries.
"I remembered there was an increase in Chinese visa applicants to Germany when the country waived personal interviews at the embassy," she said. "A visa is the most fundamental issue we have to discuss in terms of business exchange between the two countries. That's why a visa is so important."
Zhang Zijun, visa consultant with Beijing C2D International Business, said he expected more adjustments in the future.
"Germany has been trying to ease the visa process for Chinese citizens in past years," said Zhang. "I believe they will have more moves such as providing super priority visa service just like the UK Embassy did."
Zhang said his company has been helping its clients get priority visas within 24 to 72 hours for at least two years.
He said he also believes that Germany will encourage more travelers from China by giving more visas to them.
"It is not easy to get a visa for traveling. If you are a single Chinese woman who has no friends and no relatives in Germany and wants to apply for a visa to travel around Germany, the rejection rate is as high as 90 percent," said Zhang. "But I think this will soon change. More Chinese middle-class travelers will be attracted to Germany."