China Simplifies Visa Application Process to Attract Foreign Travelers and Facilitate Opening-Up

Posted by Written by Giulia Interesse Reading Time: 3 minutes

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has unveiled a simplified visa application process with revisions to the visa application form, aimed at attracting a greater number of international visitors and serving high-quality domestic development and high-level opening-up.

On September 20, 2023, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced a simplification of its visa application process, with the aim of attracting more international visitors and talents, and facilitating economic development and opening up.

Notable changes involve the visa application form and include a requirement for applicants to list their travel history from the past year (rather than the previous five), and a streamlined approach to the educational background section, now only requiring applicants to specify their highest level of education achieved.

According to a statement from the MFA’s spokesperson Mao Ning, these changes are set to significantly reduce the time applicants spend completing visa forms and make the entire process more efficient. The ministry reaffirmed its commitment to fostering people-to-people interactions between China and other countries, emphasizing its dedication to China’s high-quality development and its continued commitment to global engagement.

This move is part of China’s commitment to providing a more efficient and traveler-friendly experience for those planning to visit the country, which also forms part of China’s recently released 24 measures for boosting foreign investment.

What has changed in the Chinese visa application forms?

The heart of this optimization effort lies in the comprehensive revision of the Chinese visa application forms. The MFA has worked on redefining these forms to make them more accessible and user-friendly for applicants.

The new forms now focus on essential applicant details, including educational background, family information, and past travel experiences. By narrowing down the scope to this key information, the application process should become more straightforward and less burdensome for applicants.

Reportedly, another significant aspect of the optimization process is a substantial reduction in the amount of textual content within the forms. This change not only simplifies the forms but also saves applicants from wading through excessive paperwork.

What are some examples of the new changes?

To better understand the extent of these improvements, we have listed a couple of specific examples below:

  • “Past Travel Experience”: Previously, applicants were required to provide a detailed account of their travel history spanning several years. However, the newly redesigned forms limit this requirement to just the past year. This change significantly reduces the burden of collecting and recording extensive travel data, making the application process much more manageable.
  • “Educational Background”: The section regarding educational background has been simplified to request only the highest level of academic attainment. This modification eliminates the need for applicants to list all their educational achievements, streamlining the application even further.

Expected impact

The lengthy visa application process has often posed a barrier for individuals interested in traveling to China. While domestic tourism has rebounded, international travel to and from China remains below pre-pandemic levels.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Julia Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of the World Travel & Tourism Council, expressed that Chinese cross-border travel will likely take until the end of 2024 to fully return to pre-pandemic levels. She further pointed out that the recovery would be a direct result of the Chinese government’s efforts to streamline the entire travel process in order to rejuvenate its tourism industry.

In addition to tourism, the simplification of China’s visa application process is poised to benefit China’s business and commerce development, as the simplified application process will particularly benefit business travelers who often need to visit China for meetings, negotiations, and other professional purposes. Reduced paperwork and quicker processing times will make it more convenient for them to plan and execute business trips.

About Us China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, Dubai (UAE), and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.