China’s embassy in Washington has announced that it will resume issuing visas to foreigners from March 15, after imposing restrictions since the Covid pandemic outbreak. This updated policy will also enable visa-free travel for certain tourist groups arriving on cruise ships to Shanghai, as well as those from Hong Kong, Macau, and ASEAN regional grouping countries.
The embassy notice added that new travel documents would be reviewed and approved, and visas issued before March 28, 2020, which are still valid, would once again allow entry to China. Although other countries have started reopening international travel earlier, China only started easing its zero-Covid policies in late 2022 after protests erupted against the hardline restrictions.
In January, Chinese embassies suspended issuing new visas for South Koreans and Japanese, in what appeared to be a retaliation for the Covid-19 testing requirements recently imposed by those countries on travellers from China. The embassies situated in Tokyo and Seoul made announcements about their suspensions through online notices. The embassy in Seoul declared that the ban would persist until South Korea removes the "discriminatory entry measures" it has imposed on China.
Several countries in Europe, North America, and Asia have also suspended visa issuance due to concerns about the lack of information regarding the rapidly spreading virus outbreaks in China. However, China’s embassy in Tokyo stated that visa issuance had only been suspended for new applicants, with no information about people currently holding visas.
China's move is motivated by their desire to ensure their citizens are treated equally to those of other nations. This is because many countries, including the United States, have a requirement for either a negative COVID-19 test before departure from China or a test on arrival at the airport, or sometimes both. The resumption of visa issuance and the implementation of the new travel policy is aimed at stimulating the country's economy, which has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, by attracting more business travelers and tourists.
Q1: When will China resume issuing visas to foreigners?
China's embassy in Washington has announced that it will resume issuing visas to foreigners from March 15, after imposing restrictions since the Covid pandemic outbreak.
Q2: Which countries can enjoy visa-free travel to China under the new policy?
The updated policy will enable visa-free travel for certain tourist groups arriving on cruise ships to Shanghai, as well as those from Hong Kong, Macau, and ASEAN regional grouping countries.