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American Chamber of Commerce-China 2013 White Paper on Visa Policy

AmCham_China_White_Paper_2013AmCham China has just published its 2013 White Paper. Below is a brief introduction to the chapter on US and China visa policy, which I co-authored. Check it out.

New visa policy developments in 2012 in the US and China present significant opportunities and challenges for non-citizens in both countries.

In January 2012, US President Barack Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13597, setting goals for reducing visa processing times and increasing visa processing capacity in China. During the decade ending in 2010, the US market share of spending by international travelers fell from 17 percent to 11 percent, a more than 30 percent decrease in the US share of the global market. Among the reasons for the slide were a burdensome US visa system and lack of visa processing capacity. The United States was unable to take advantage of booming US visa demand by Chinese. But measures put in place by the State Department to implement EO13597 have made impressive strides, including hiring 50 new consular officials in China, decreasing visa processing times, and plans to begin processing visas at the US Consulate in Wuhan in 2014. AmCham China advocates continued progress to keep up with forecasts of Chinese travel to the United States, which is expected to grow 259 percent between 2012 and 2017 according to the Commerce Department.

AmCham China advocates visa policies that support member companies in competing internationally for talent to contribute to the US economy. To that end, AmCham China supports abolishing discriminatory per-country immigrant visa caps, raising the H-1B visa cap, and removing barriers for permanent residents taking assignments abroad for US companies, as discussed below. These ongoing regulatory issues are best addressed in the context of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

China faces a different set of challenges. The country’s rapid growth, shifting demographics, and aging population have opened new opportunities for economic immigration from developed as well as developing countries. This underscores the need for China to modernize its regulatory framework and enhance administrative capacity in order to accommodate increasing visitors and temporary residents. On June 30, 2012, the National People’s Congress (NPC) enacted a new law on exit and entry control. Effective from July 1, 2013, the new Exit and Entry law will more closely regulate foreigners entering, living and working in China. However, detailed regulations on this issue are not publicly available. This creates conflict and uncertainty in enforcement of the law and local related regulations.

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