Improved B, F, M, and J Visas for Chinese Nationals10 Dec 2014
The United States has entered into a reciprocal agreement with China regarding the duration of commonly utilized nonimmigrant visa categories. This agreement, effective November 12, 2014, applies to B-1/B-2 business and tourist visitors, F-1 and M-1 students, as well as J-1 exchange visitors. Chinese nationals will now have the same visa benefits in these categories and those already enjoyed by nationals from many other countries around the world, including India, Canada, and the Philippines.
Visa Validity Period Extended
What the United States has agreed to change is the duration of certain nonimmigrant visa foils (i.e. “stamps”) issued to Chinese nationals. The changes apply to “B” visitor visas (for both B-1, business visitors, and B-2, visitors for pleasure / tourists), F-1 and M-1 student visas, as well as J-1 exchange visitor visas. These changes do not alter the legal requirements for obtaining a visa in the applicable categories, nor do they extend the duration a Chinese national is allowed to legally remain in the U.S.
Five and Ten-Year Multiple Entry Visas
Under the agreement, Chinese nationals are now eligible for B-1/B-2 visas akin to those issued to nationals from many other countries. These visas are issued with a maximum duration of ten years (rather than one year, the maximum amount of time allowed under the previous reciprocity schedule), and continue to allow for multiple entries. Similarly, F, M, and J visas can now be issued with a maximum duration of five years. The same benefits pertain to family members applying for dependent visas in the related dependent categories. Further, as this is a reciprocal agreement, U.S. citizens now may obtain Chinese visas in comparable categories valid for the same extended periods.
DOS Reciprocity Schedule
These changes are reflected on the visa reciprocity schedule, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). This schedule, or table, provides a chart for each country, listing the “applicable visa issuance fees by country and by visa classification type, and the maximum period of visa validity and number of applications, or entries, that may be authorized.”
FAQs Regarding Change in Visa Reciprocity with China
The DOS has also issued a set of FAQs regarding the new visa schedule. The FAQs caution that there may be a temporary increase in visa processing times in China, as these changes are expected to increase the volume of visa applications. Further, the DOS notes that the expiration dates of existing visas are not impacted by these changes. Rather, Chinese nationals with visas issued under the previous reciprocity schedule need to reapply to obtain the new benefits, but it is likely that many will be eligible to use the interview waiver program (IWP), which allows applicants to apply without having to personally attend an interview at the consulate or embassy.
The changes to the visa schedule hopefully signals improvements in the diplomatic and business relations between the United States and China. If any new major changes to the visa reciprocity schedule are announced, the information will be posted on MurthyDotCom.
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