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Ten Year Visas - What's Up With That, Both Ways

Dec 11, 2014 | 12:33 Thu
So last month Obama and Xi worked out some sweet deals during APEC, including a ten-year visa for Americans and Chinese. Many of us were wondering how the hell this would actually work out, but now a few friends have actually received these visas. They're real. Here's what we know…

First off, this only works for Americans and Chinese. Sorry, everyone else. Americans coming to China can now get ten-year tourist (L), business (M), or family visit (Q2 and S2) visas, or five-year study visas (X1). Working on any of these visas is illegal. A friend went to the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles last month to get a new tourist visa. They hadn't updated the forms yet, as of two weeks ago, so in the part that asks which visa you're applying for, he just checked "other" and wrote in "ten year multiple entry tourist visa."

A few days later he received his passport with a ten year multiple entry visa, which requires him to leave every sixty days. Apparently this is the standard leave period unless you apply for a longer stay, which will likely result in more scrutiny, time, and pain. Visa was the same price as before. There's a note about all this on the consulate's website.

On the Chinese side, a friend who had a previous American visa just reapplied and got the ten-year visa without even asking. Previously, many Chinese citizens were given a one-year tourist visa that they could reapply for electronically within four years. No need for an interview or anything, just a letter stating travel purposes. This time she just said she was going to the States for Christmas and they gave her a ten-year visa. Of course, this doesn't mean you can stay in America for ten years straight. The length of the stay is determined by immigration officers upon landing. Judging by the pictures posted on Weibo, a lot of people have been getting these. Here's a bit about this whole deal on the White House's website.

Reddit has a fairly up to date subreddit about China visas that's always good to check for the latest information. They've got a guide to the ten-year visa for foreigners coming to China that provides some more knowledge. If you've got experience with this or other details, drop it in the comments.