Quick Takes on U.S. and China Visa Law News (2013-2015)



Buzz over Bid by China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ to Draw Foreign Talent (Straits Times, Dec. 15): Under proposals made by the Zhongguancun park located in Beijing, former Chinese citizens will receive an “overseas Chinese card”; foreigners will get temporary identification papers; and young foreigners will enjoy internship opportunities.

Kenyans Living in the Shadow of Shattered Chinese Dream (Daily Nation, Dec. 6): Kenya’s ambassador to Beijing is aware of a human trafficking racket where con men offer Kenyans non-existent jobs in China as English language teachers. Upon entering with a business visitor visa, the typical “teacher” learns that work is not authorized with that visa. Further, they learn that English work authorization is only available to persons from “native English-speaking countries.” While Kenya’s official languages are English and Swahili, South Africa is the only African country China classifies as a “native English-speaking country.” Many end up in illegal jobs at rural outposts, earning a fraction of what they had been promised.

Chinese Pregnant Mothers Still Likely to Flock to US to Give Birth, Despite Scrapping of One-Child Policy, Say Industry Insiders (S. China Morning Post, Nov. 27)

China Urged Not to Repatriate North Koreans Caught Trying to Escape (Washington Post, Nov. 21): The United Nations and human rights activists are urging China not to repatriate a group of nine North Koreans who fled their country, warning of the harsh fate that awaits them if sent back. Many returnees to North Korea are placed in prison camps, where the UN complains they are subject to human rights violations. This group managed to cross from North Korea to China, and then to Vietnam, where they were found during a random check and handed over to Chinese police.

Pair Battle Airline Over ‘Journey from Hell’ (New Zealand Herald, Sept. 26): Two friends from New Zealand were detained and deported after their plans to use the 72-hour visa waiver in Beijing went awry. They were planning to fly from Istanbul to Beijing to Auckland. But their China Southern Airlines plane made what they say was an unscheduled stop in Urumchi. Urumchi doesn’t participate in the 72-hour visa waiver program. While transit through Urumchi could be authorized, the Urumchi stop made them ineligible to use the 72-hour visa waiver in Beijing, which requires that the passenger’s flight to China be directly from point A abroad and then depart direclty to point B in a third country. The two friends have filed a complaint with China Southern Airlines.

Orange County Immigration Lawyer Guilty in Chinese Birth Tourism Scandal (OC Weekly, Sept. 18): Attorney Ken Zhiyi Liang of Irvine, California, has been found guilty in federal court of three counts of obstruction of justice stemming from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation into a Chinese birth tourism scam. Prosecutors convinced the judge that Liang conspired to obstruct justice by plotting to secretly aid the illegal escape of a material witness back to China. The witness, known in court as “D.L.,” is a Chinese mother who the court ordered to stay in the U.S. in order to testify against the birth tourism agency she did business with. Working undercover for prosecutors, she secretly recorded conversations with Liang about how to flee the U.S. Sentencing will take place December 14.

Chinese Man Wanted on Corruption Charges Is Returned from U.S. (AP, Sept. 18): Businessman Yang Jinjun is the first person to be repatriated by the U.S. as part of China’s “Sky Net” operation, which seeks 100 fugitives worldwide. Yang is the brother of a former deputy mayor of Wenzhou, Yang Xiuzhu, who is wanted for embezzlement by China and currently detained by U.S. immigration authorities. / U.S. officials apparently have made no public statement about this case, and it’s not clear what it portends for future cooperation.

Obama Administration Warns Beijing about Covert Agents Operating in U.S. (N.Y. Times, Aug. 16): The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of undercover Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States as part of Operation Fox Hunt to pressure prominent expatriates — some wanted in China on charges of corruption — to return home. The administration accuses the agents of use various strong-arm tactics, including threats against family members in China, to get fugitives to return.

GAO Says Feds Lack Proper Oversight of EB-5 Investor Visa Program (Seattle Times, Aug. 12): A Government Accountability Office reports that the EB-5 investor visa program run by USCIS is unable to effectively detect fraud (e.g., use of illegally gained funds for investment) or assess the program’s economic benefits (e.g., number of U.S. jobs created through investments). The EB-5 regional center program’s congressional authorization is about to expire on September 30, and multiple Congressional bills to change and extend the program are pending.

Special Report: How Smuggled Workers Power ‘Made in China’ (James Pomfret for Reuters, Aug. 6): The smuggling of illegal workers from Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos into China is growing. Tens of thousands work at factories in the Pearl River Delta. Labor brokers work with Chinese human smuggling syndicates, known as “snakeheads”, and Vietnamese gangs to control the lucrative trade. This is one way factory owners are struggling to retain their edge as the number of Chinese joining the workforce is declining, China’s society ages, and wages are rising. But there is potential for exploitation of the Southeast Asian workers.

Attorney Indicted on Third Obstruction of Justice Count in Chinese Birth Tourism Case (Orange County Register, July 29): In May, Federal agents arrested Irvine attorney Ken Zhiyi Liang on suspicion of witness tampering. He allegedly tried to assist a Chinese woman to leave the U.S. in violation of a court order that she remain in the country as a material witness in the ongoing Southern California birth tourism investigation. It appears that, at the behest of agents, the woman taped her conversations with the lawyer. A third, related count of obstruction of justice was added this week to a grand jury indictment against Liang. This Federal investigation made headlines in March when scores of federal agents raided properties associated with three alleged operators.

One Passport, Two Systems: China’s Restrictions on Foreign Travel by Tibetans and Others (Amnesty Int’l, July 13): This report contends China has implemented a two-track system for passports applications: a fast-track system is available in areas that are largely populated by the country’s ethnic Chinese majority, but only a slow-track system in Tibet and Xinjiang. The slow-track system imposes a political examination on passport applicants and appears to be designed to prevent Tibetan Buddhist or Muslim religious pilgrimages on the assumption that pilgrims may be drawn into political activism.

SEC Charges Oil Company and CEO in Scheme Targeting Chinese-Americans and EB-5 Investors (SEC Press Release, July 6): The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a San Francisco Bay Area oil and gas company, Luca International Group, and its CEO, Yang Bingqing, with running a $68 million Ponzi-like scheme and affinity fraud that targeted the Chinese-American community in California and investors in Asia, including some solicited as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Trade Zone Eases Rules for Expats (China Daily, June 2): The Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone will allow international students additional opportunities to work in China and cancel the maximum allowable age limit for foreigners applying for employment licenses, announced Sun Jiwei, head of Pudong New Area, at a press conference. / No detailed rules have been released. Shanghai’s current rules prevent employment by new graduates by requiring two years’ post-graduate work experience. They also set a maximum age of 55 for women and 60 for men.

Federal “Maternity Tourism” Case Grows with Arrest of O.C. Attorney (Joel Rubin for Los Angeles Times, May 18): Federal agents have arrested Irvine attorney Ken Zhiyi Liang on suspicion of witness tampering. He allegedly tried to assist a Chinese woman to leave the U.S. in violation of a court order that she remain in the country as a material witness in the ongoing Southern California birth tourism investigation. It appears that, at the behest of agents, the woman taped her conversations with the lawyer. This investigation made headlines in March when scores of federal agents raided properties associated with three alleged operators.

Charged With Graft in China, Some Fugitives Are Finding Luxury in U.S. (New York Times, May 15)

Want a Green Card? Invest in Real Estate (New York Times, May 15): Developers are eager to access the EB-5 investors’ funds because they are cheaper than many other financing sources. This is in large part because the participants are focused on securing green cards and are therefore willing to take smaller returns on their investment, typically earning less than 1%. For example, but for EB-5 funds, one New York City developer would have taken out a loan and paid around 12% in interest, but EB-5 money can be as low as 5%, considering the costs of pay the costly Chinese immigration agents, as well as legal fees and other expenses.

Chinese Police Order Residents in a Xinjiang Prefecture to Turn In Passports (New York Times, May 14): In an attempt to combat ethnic violence, police have ordered residents of Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture prefecture in Xinjiang to hand over their passports to the police or have the documents canceled. Uighurs in Xinjiang have had a hard time getting passports for many years, but the prefecture-wide collection of passports seems to be new. Ili is ethnically diverse and borders on Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. Nicholas Bequelin of Amnesty International interprets the government policy as an attempt to deny Uighur separatists support from abroad, but he fears that the policy will “reinforc[e] the sentiment of alienation of ethnic Uighurs, and fuel[ ]the feeling of being second-class citizens, suspect in eyes of the state simply because of their ethnicity.”

Former NBA Star Marbury Applying for Chinese Green Card (Xinhua, Apr. 18): Stephon Marbury, who recently led the Beijing Ducks to a third Chinese Basketball Association title, announced on his Weibo microblog, “I’m applying for a Chinese green card.”

Foreign University Students Abandoning Beijing for Second, Third Tier Cities (The Beijinger, Apr. 17): According to Ministry of Education figures, Beijing’s international university student population dropped by 4% from 2012 to 2014, at the same time that nationwide numbers rose almost 15%.

High-Skilled Visa Applications Hit Record High (CNN Money, Apr. 13): This year, 233,000 foreigners applied for the H-1B, the most common visa for high-skilled foreign workers. That’s up significantly from 2014 (172,500 applications) and nearly double the applicants from two years ago (124,000). The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will grant just 85,000 H-1B visas (20,000 of which are reserved for master’s degree holders), which it selected on Monday via a lottery process. / The H-1B system is broken. Given that smart choices about attracting international talent are important for America’s economy, it makes no sense to make these decisions by a random lottery.

Expats Who Die in China Ring up a Hefty Tab (China Daily, Apr. 3): About 1800 individuals’ remains are repatriated from China every year. Costs can reach 80,000 RMB. Prices fixed by the government for embalming and storage don’t apply to foreign nationals.

Number of Illegal Foreign Workers Soars in Pearl River Delta (China Daily, Apr. 1): Law enforcement officers investigated more than 5,000 illegal foreign workers in Guangdong last year. Most are from Southeast Asia and work in factories or other labor-intensive industries. Some were brought to China by smugglers who take a cut of the workers pay. There is a labor shortage throughout the Pearl River Delta. / Some companies have relocated to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia to access low-cost labor there.

Chinese Woman Charged with Fraud Remains in Jail (China Daily, Mar. 31): Zhao Shilian, discussed in the below Mar. 17 article, has been denied bond. China Daily claims that the Chinese government assisted with the U.S. criminal prosecution, as part of China’s efforts to target corrupt officials.

Foreigner Jailed for 5 Years for Visa Fraud (Shanghai Daily, Mar. 24): A Brazilian man and two Chinese accomplices were recently sentenced to prison by the Zhabei District People’s Court in Shanghai for providing illegal Chinese visa services. They had helped foreigners to get Chinese residence permits by arranging for companies to falsely claim they intended to hire the foreigners. / Lost Lawai says the foreign defendant was Pedro Godoi, who operated Godoi Consulting.

Newcastle Woman Charged with Immigrant-Investor Fraud (Seattle Times, Mar. 17): Zhao Shilian, a Chinese national, has been arrested in Washington State on charges that she made misrepresentations in connection with her EB-5 immigrant investor visa application. Namely, she allegedly falsely claimed to still be married to her ex-husband, Qiao Jianjun, and lied about the source of the investment funds, which officials say was embezzled from a Chinese grain warehouse where her ex-husband worked.

10 Questions about Migration between China and Africa (Li Anshan, Univ. of Nottingham, China Policy Institute, Mar. 4): The rapid development of China-Africa relations has prompted migration flows to and from China and the fifty plus countries of the African continent. This article addresses provides answers to ten specific questions in order to improve the understanding of these processes.

Destination China: The Country Adjusts to Its New Migration Reality (Heidi Østbø Haugen for the Migration Policy Institute, Mar. 4): China’s place in the global migration order has been transformed by three decades of rapid economic development. Policies to reform and open the country initiated in 1978 accelerated Chinese emigration and internal migration towards the
industrialized coast. While these flows remain important, another trend has gained momentum: Increasing numbers of foreigners are making their
way to China. / (Cites this blog).

My China Story: African-Chinese Couple Set Up Family in Guangzhou (CCTV, Feb. 28): A Cameroonian businessmen and his Shanxi wife make a home in Guangzhou.

Twice As Many Expatriates Leaving China Than Arriving, Moving Company Says (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 9): A new study by UniGroup Relocation, which moves over 260,000 families peryear worldwide for work, suggests that twice as many people moved out of China than into the country in 2014.

Wealthy Chinese Are Fleeing the Country Like Mad (ChinaFile, Feb. 3): A set of infographics by David Barrera.

Central China City Allows 72-Hour Visa Exemptions (China Daily, Feb. 1): Wuhan will put into effect the 72-hour transit visa waiver in March.

China Dangles Green Cards to Entice Foreign Science Talent (Science, Jan. 27): Will the newly announced 55 programs for recruiting scientific talent be effective? Veteran reporter Mara Hvistendahl reports on divergent experts’ views.

Favorable Visa Policy to Draw Talent (China Daily, Jan. 26): Foreign experts recruited through 55 ministry, province, city, and SOE talent programs can now apply for visas, residence permits, and permanent residence — also called Chinese green cards — under the same standard for experts recruited by the national Recruitment Program of Global Experts (i.e., the 1,000 Talent Plan). / The notice published by the Communist Party’s Organization Department, the Human Resources and Social Security Ministry, and the State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs is entitled “Notice Regarding Convenient Filing of Visas and Residence for Foreign High-Level Talent Coming to China,”《关于为外籍高层次人才来华提供签证及居留便利备案工作有关问题的通知》.

Chinese Tourists Are Flooding Into The US Thanks To A New Visa Rule (Business Insider, Jan. 21): Canada currently sends the most tourists to the U.S., followed by Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan. China ranks seventh but is expected to rise four spots by 2019, thanks in part to the recent U.S.-China visa reciprocity agreement.


For Many Immigrants, Driver’s Licenses Will Be an “Incredible Relief” (LA Times, Dec. 31): The California Department of Motor Vehicles will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses and expects approximately 1.5 million applications to be filed within the first three years of the program.

Beijing Courting Overseas Tourists (China Daily, Dec. 18): Beijing is trying to improve the 72-hour visa waiver program. Proposals under discussion include extending stays to 96 hours and refunding sales taxes upon departure.

Yojana Sharma, New Push to Tighten Up on Study Abroad Agents (Univ. World News, Nov.): Responsibility for licensing agents who assist students in applying to study abroad has been shifted from the national Ministry of Education to provincial education commissions.

浙江两人非法介绍外籍女子来华结婚被判刑 (Two Convicted in Zhejiang of Illegally Arranging for Foreign Women to Come to China for Marriage) (Xinhua, Nov. 27): The defendants were found guilty of arranging tourist visas for 70 Cambodian women to enter China for purposes of marrying men from Lishui, Zhejiang. / Not discussed in this article is the fact that Cambodian women are sometimes trafficked to China as brides on false pretenses (told they are coming to work) or against their will (sold by their families).

In Immigration Action, the LGBT Community Once Again Feels Left Behind (National Journal, Nov. 25): One focus of Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Parents, will aid millions of undocumented immigrants continuously present in the U.S. since before 2010 and with U.S.-born children. This is seen as a way to keep families together. But more LGBT individuals would have been aided if there were no child qualifier.

A Matter of Honours: China Is Trying to Reverse Its Brain Drain (Economist, Nov. 22): According to the Ministry of Education, only a third of Chinese students who have gone abroad for study have come back. The government has launched several programs to lure them back. But such incentives send the unintended message to today’s best and brightest that they should still spend their most productive years abroad.

Alyssa Abkowitz, The Draws–and Deterrents–of Working in China: Language, Opportunity (Wall St. Journal, Nov. 4): A study of foreign professionals in Beijing (and foreigners seeking jobs in China) by the China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development and Career Builder.

Africans in China Feel Scant Ebola Panic (FT, Nov. 4): China has no confirmed cases of Ebola. Beijing aims to keep it that way without offending Africa, at a time when its ties of trade and investment with the continent are increasingly crucial to its foreign policy. Officials for the recent Canton Fair said they were instructed to reject visitors from Gunea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Congo. And in Yiwu, hotels are monitoring the temperature of guests from those countries.

China City Distributes Free Cell Phones to Ebola Zone Arrivals (Xinhua, Oct. 31): The city of Guangzhou is distributing free mobile phones to people arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This is part of a health care package including a thermometer and a local map. The goal is for disease control personnel to be able to track and contact them as quickly as possible.

The Kitchen Network: America’s Underground Chinese Restaraunt Workers (New Yorker, Oct. 13): A good read about several employment agencies at the corner of Eldridge and Forsyth, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, which supply workers to many of America’s 40,000 Chinese restaraunts.

Alyssa Abkowitz, China Wants to Know Why Foreigners Are Fleeing Beijing, Wall St. Journal (Sept. 29): Foreigners tell the Beijing Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs that they may consider leaving China because of the increased cost of living and education, along with air pollution and complicated bureaucracy.

Undercover Investigation: Become a Native English Teacher in China, no Questions Asked (SCMP, Sept. 17): With the seemingly insatiable demand for English teachers in China, many schools will hire candidates without a degree, a teaching english as a seocnd language (TESL) certificate, teaching experience, criminal background checks, reference checks, or sponsoring a work visa. The shadowy areas of the market include consultants who sell fake ESL teaching certificates, and schools that close overnight or refuse to pay salaries.

Influx of Chinese Students into U.S. May Be Tapering Off (LA Times, Aug. 29, 2012): According to a Council of Graduate Schools report, admission offers from U.S. graduate schools to Chinese nationals–who make up one-third of all international master’s and doctoral degree students in the U.S.–flattened this year. / See also Chinese Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools Decline (New York Times, May 4).

China Broadens Crackdown on Foreign Missionaries (Globe and Mail, Aug.25): From interviews with nearly a dozen former and active missionaries, experts and academics it’s clear at least hundreds – perhaps nearly 1,000 – have been forced out of China since early 2013.

Number of Immigrants Smuggled from Shenzhen to Hong Kong Soars (SCMP, Aug. 18): A people-smuggling operation used Shenzhen as a staging area for hundreds of undocumented immigrants–mostly from Bangladesh and Pakistan–to enter Hong Kong by boat in the last year. Some of the arrested migrants have filed claims for asylum.

Qiaowu: Extra-Territorial Policies for the Overseas Chinese (Andrew Browne, WSJ, Aug. 16): The term overseas chinese affairs or qiaowu (侨务) refers to activities designed to rally support for China and the Chinese Communist Party amongst the 50 million or so ethnic Chinese outside of China through various propaganda and thought-management techniques, according to political scientist James Jiann Hua. Beijing’s main objective is to encourage reunification, stimulate nationalist pride and to oppose anti-CCP movements.

Random Urine Tests Now Part of Beijing Night Life (ABC News, Aug. 16): As part of a crackdown on illegal drug use, police conducted urine tests on customers at Beijing’s Dos Kolegas bar on Aug. 8. Several foreign nationals were among those detained. They were told they would be detained for two weeks then deported. “No lawyers. No right of appeal. No telephone calls allowed.”

Hidden Refugees (Karoline Kan, That’s Beijing, Aug. 2014): Profile of Ahmadi refugees in Beijing, waiting for UNHCR to place them in a third country, since China doesn’t enforce its constitutional and statutory provisions on refugee resettlement. / For more on Ahmadi refugees in China, see Pak Muslim Minority Seek Refuge in China (Daily Star, June 20). Kan’s article also includes links to other profiles in the That’s Beijing “New Global Migrants” series.

Backdoor Entry Past China’s Visa Barricades (Forbes, Aug. 14): “Last month I discovered a backdoor to the usual Great Wall of visa barricades. Those landing in China en route to a third international stop can stay for 72 hours, I learned… no consulates, letters, questions or payments.” / A journalist discovers China’s 72-hour transit visa waiver program.

Chinese Immigration Officers Study Document Fraud, Identification of Trafficking Victims (International Organization for Migration, Aug. 12): IOM is hosting a workshop for immigration officials from the Ministry of Public Security on how to detect fraudulent documents and how to identify victims of trafficking, especially women and girls from Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia being trafficked for pruposes of sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

China Cracking Down on Christian Groups along North Korea Border: Sources (Reuters, Aug. 11): As many as one third of the 3,000 South Korean missionaries working in China, largely near the North Korean border, have been forced out, most by having their visas refused, said Simon Suh, a Christian pastor who runs an orphanage in Yanji, a city near Tumen.

Checks on Foreigners Stepped up in Beijing (ChinaDaily, Aug. 6): Beijing’s Exit and Entry Border Inspection General Station reports an increase in the number of foreign nationals denied entry at the airport and deported from China. Related statistics are “confidential.”

Cambodia Urges China Visa Restrictions (Voice of America, Aug. 4): Cambodia says it has asked China to restrict the number of visas it issues to single Cambodian women, to prevent the brokering of marriages to Chinese men. In such deals, the Cambodian family is offered payment in return for a daughter’s marrying in China, but too often the woman is subjected to sexual abuse, overwork and starvation.

Guilin to Offer 72-Hour Visa-Free Stays (Xinhua, July 14): China’s visa waiver program allows a traveler arriving at a designated airport to stay within a specified geographic area for 72 hours visa-free. Guilin becomes a designated airport effective July 28. / For more, see China’s 72-Hour Visa Waiver Program.

China Wants Thailand to Allow Chinese Tourists to Visit without Visa (Global Travel Industry News, July 13): China has reiterated its request that Thailand enter into a visa waiver agreement for visitors. China is the number one source of tourists to China. The request was made during Acting Foreign Minister Sihasaks’ visit to Beijing.

A ‘Band-Aid’ for 800 Children (Washington Post, July 5): Nora Sandigo is a guardian to hundreds of U.S. citizen children whose undocumented immigrant parents are subject to deportation. A quarter of the people deported from the U.S. say they are parents of U.S. citizen minors. The government calls these “mixed-status” families. When the parents are deported, the children often leave with them. But others are referred to the U.S. foster-care system. By arranging for a guardian, the children can remain in the U.S. without begin taken into foster care. An undocumented friend or relative in the U.S. can’t be appointed guardian, so if the parents want their child to be cared for by such a person, they appoint a guardian like Sandigo, who will make the arrangements. / By signing forms to appoint a guardian, in the event of deportation the the guardian will have the power to make decisions about the child’s health, support, education, religion, and any other necessary life decisions.

Obama Pledges to Redirect Immigration Enforcement, Conceding Congress Won’t Act (Washington Post, June 30): Obama says he will issue executive orders to “fix as much of our immigration system as we can” since House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) told him last week there won’t be an immigration reform vote in the House this year. Obama stated that he’ll act at the end of the summer based on recommendations he’s requested from the Department of Homeland Security. He alluded to measures to move enforcement officers from the country’s interior to the border, perhaps in light of the recent upsurge in unaccompanied minors. He also hinted at measures to build on a prior executive action called deferred action for childhood arrivals, which delays deportation of young people brought into the country illegally as children and issues them work authorization.

Pak Muslim Minority Seek Refuge in China (Daily Star, June 20): Thirty-five of the almost 500 UN-registered asylum seekers and refugees currently in China are members of the Ahmadi community, a Muslim sect persecuted in Pakistan. They receive almost no support from China’s government but feel safe in China. If the UN classifies them as refugees after an 18-month process, they wait further–often years–for acceptance from a third country. During that time, they are prohibited from working in China, despite China’s obligations under international treaties and under its own Exit-Entry Administration Law. Recognizing the Ahmadi as refugeees may be politically sensitive in China becuase Pakistan has long been an ally.

Hong Kong Considers Limits on Mainland Chinese Visitors (New York Times, May 28): Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, says that a 20 percent cut in mainland visitors was one option being considered by a government panel. The focus may be on limiting permits valid for multiple-entries or limiting the number of mainland cities–currently 49–that can issue permits to individual travelers (as opposed to group tours). / 40.7 million mainlanders visited HK last year, according to The Standard. (In comparison, the U.S. had 70 million visitors). Some locals complain about the crowds, shops selling everyday items having to make way for stores carrying high-priced branded goods, and certain essentials being cornered by visitors. On the other hand, retailers, especially those selling cosmetics, gold, jewelry, and branded products, are concerned their business will be greatly affected.

U.S. May Act to Keep Chinese Hackers out of Def Con Hacker Event (Reuters, May 24): Washington is considering using visa restrictions to prevent Chinese nationals from attending popular Def Con and Black Hat hacking conferences in Las Vegas as part of a broader effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage, according to an unnamed senior administration official. At Black Hat, an employee of Chinese security software maker Qihoo 360 is scheduled to speak on software vulnerabilities. Conference organizers said they knew nothing about the visa restrictions. Videos of the conferences are sold on DVD and posted on the web. / The State Department has a procedure known as Mantis security advisory opinions (SAOs), which is used to identify visa applicants suspected of seeking to enter the U.S. to access and illegally export sensitive technology with potential military applications. That procedure could be used to deny visas to certain hackers.

Chinese Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools Decline (New York Times, May 4): For the second year in a row, applications from China to American graduate schools have fallen, according to a report released last month by the Council of Graduate Schools. This bucks recent trends. Perhaps this reflects China’s heavy spending to improve its own research universities. Another guess is that the U.S. visa system makes it too hard to stay and work after graduation. / I wonder if there’s any relationship with how Chinese students are recently less likley to want to work for multinationals due to the perception that MNCs are scaling down their China business, Chinese companies are offering better salaries, and Chinese companies are better able to help employees get big-city hukous. In the past, students going overseas to study routinely told me they hoped to return to China to work for an MNC.

Middle Class Flight: Yearning to Breathe Free (Economist, Apr. 26): A growing trend is that middle-class Chinese are emigrating not for better career opportunities or political freedoms but a better quality of life. Chinese emigrants are leaving good jobs, cashing out their high-priced homes (or investment properties) and leaving China’s polluted cities and rat race behind. About 80,000 Chinese every year are gaining permanent residency in the U.S. (second in number only to Mexicans immigrating). / Interesting thesis. My favorite line describes life abroad as “safer, cleaner and less corrupt” but “really boring.”

Should Obama Use the Power of His Pen to Turn the Tide on Immigration Reform? (CNN, Apr. 15): Immigration champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez feels confident that President BarackObama will use his executive powers to push through reform. House Speaker John Boehner feels confident that doing so will tank what little support the President has among Republicans on immigration reform.

USCIS Reaches FY 2015 H-1B Cap (USCIS, Apr. 10): USCIS announced that it received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the FY2015 filing period and completed the computer-generated random selection process on April 10, 2014, to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

White House Fact Sheet: Strengthening Entrepreneurship At Home and Abroad (White House, Apr. 7): The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon publish several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness. These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.

Chinese Parents Compete with Foreigners to Adopt Healthy Babies (Global Times, Apr. 2): The China Civil Affairs Statistical Yearbook 2013 indicated that the country’s social welfare institutions held some 104,000 children in 2012. The vast majority have disabilities. A total of 27,278 were adopted that year, 15% to foreign families. / The story’s nationalistic tone seems misplaced. The number of children in China’s orphanages has doubled since 2004. At the same time, the number of international adoptions has fallen dramatically, and now consists primarily of special needs children. The real policy focus should be finding alternatives to institutionalization.

Former Waterville Chinese Restaurant Manager Sentenced (Morning Sentinel, Mar. 25): Mei Juan Zhang, 31, of Fairfield, Maine, was sentenced in federal court to 14 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release on charges of harboring undocumented immigrants for commercial advantage and private financial gain, money laundering conspiracy and consipracy to file false employer’s tax returns.

Plugging China’s Talent Pool (CNN, Mar. 20): China has what The People’s Daily last year called “the world’s worst brain drain.” In 2013, 8.5 million mainly middle-class Chinese were living abroad, while only 848,000 people had moved to China. Most people leave China because of practical reasons like education, food and wealth security, and air quality.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Settles $150 Million SuitAgainst Anshoo Sethi’s “A Chicago Convention Center” (SEC Press Release, Mar. 19): Sethi had raised $158 million dollars from close to 300 investors as part of a fraudulent offering that targeted foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, who sought EB-5 green cards. / Read more at Judge Orders $147 Million Returned from Chicago Regional Center to Chinese EB-5 Visa Investors.

Stolen Passports on Malaysia Flight Used Before, Chinese Firm Says (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 17): Stolen passports carried by two Iranian men to board missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were used last year by two people applying for visas to work as entertainers in China, according to the head of an entertainment company. Report by Barbara Demick.

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China Annual Visa Survey (FCCC, Mar. 17): Survey responses of 162 member and non-member journalists showed that most correspondents (82%) received their new Foreign Ministry press cards within seven working days and (89%) their new residence visas within the 15 working days that the PSB had said would be necessary. But the incidents involving Paul Mooney, the New York Times (Philip Pan, Chris Buckley, Austin Ramzy), and Bloomberg made it obvious than ever that the Chinese authorities abuse the press card and visa renewal process in a political manner, punishing reporters and media organizations for the content of their previous coverage if it has displeased the government. More surprising, the PSB Exit-Entry Administration refused to expedite residence permits to reporters who needed to travel abroad urgently for professional reasons. The police insisted that they could not issue residence permits in less than 15 working days. Except in two cases, the PSB expedited cases only of applicants whose close relatives were seriously ill or who had died. This meant that foreign correspondents were unable to travel abroad to work during the 15 working days that the police held their passports.

Chinese Immigration Is All About Lack of Confidence (Hong Kong Economic Journal, Feb. 17) (subscription required): The Hong Kong Economic Journal’s investor diary has looked into the underlying reasons for mainlanders seeking overseas citizenship. Security is the top concern, especially for wealthy mainlanders. The others are education, the environment, healthcare and welfare. The wave of emigration coincides with another trend in recent years — the gold rush by Chinese individual investors, the so-called “Big Mothers”. These are investors who have chosen to park their money in gold, with all its attendant volatility, despite an appreciating renminbi. That phenomenon is also rooted in lack of security with regards to China’s economic fundamentals. For years, the country has been leveraging its economic growth on debt. Default risk is rising in trust and asset management products. In other words, gold buying by Chinese Big Mothers and aggressive investment by China’s rich — in luxury apartments in London, for instance — reflect their lack of confidence in China’s ability to ensure the renminbi’s future. / A more positive spin on emigration and investment abroad might be to call it creating a diverse portfolio.

Pregnant Chinese Women Flock to U.S. Territory to Give Birth (ABC News, Feb. 10): Reporting on Chinese birth tourism to Saipan, ABC News visits a post-partum care center on the island and a marketing office in Beijing. American-born Chinese constitute 71% of babies born on Saipan.

‘Ideological Disparities and Discrimination’ to Blame for Chinese Trouble Getting Visas, Says Consular Official (SCMP, Jan. 15): Huang Ping, Director of-General of the Department of Consular Affairs, is quoted as saying that “ideological disparities and discrimination” cause other countries to apply more stringent visa rules to Chinese citizens. Other causes, he said, include China’s “large population base, relatively backwards economic development, and certain illegal immigration activities.” / Another angle which SCMP could have explored is whether China’s restrictive visa rules may cause some other countries to respond in kind. According to a report co-authored by the UN World Tourism Organization, China has the least “open” visa policies of the 21 APEC member countries, where openness is measured by visa exemption provisions, visa-on-arrival provisions, and e-visa provisions.


200 Foreigners Expelled from Beijing This Year (China Daily, Dec. 20): Beijing’s General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection reports 200 “deportations” this year, including found ineligible for admission at the airport, criminals who have completed their criminal sentences, and others who have violated immigration laws such as by entering illegally, working without authorization, or overstaying. / These Frontier Inspection Stations (出入境边防检查总站) are a component of the Ministry of Public Security and are responsible for security at ports of entry and exit in major cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai.

New York Times, Bloomberg Journalists Receive China Press Credentials, Await Visas (Huffington Post, Dec. 19): The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued press passes to all Bloomberg News journalists and some New York Times journalists. Now, they’ll need to apply to the public security bureau (PSB) for residence permits for journalists (记者类居留证件). / Perhaps a U.S.-China journalist visa war has been averted. This has been a trying time for the journalists’ personal lives. With the MFA delays and their existing residence permits expiring at the end of the year, they’ve been worried about packing up their houses and families to leave China. Now, they’ll need to wait 15 business days for the PSB to process their residence permits, during which time PSB will hold their passports, so they won’t be able to travel home for the holidays.

I Want an American Baby! Chinese Women Flock to the U.S. to Give Birth (Time, Nov. 27): A Shanghai couple becomes birth tourists to the U.S. without paying an intermediary agency. The “wife simply procured a business visa to the U.S. — something she had successfully done before — and set up camp in Rowland Heights, Calif.”

GM Is Leaving Shanghai. Why Did It Go There In The First Place? (ChinaLawBlog, Nov. 21): GM is moving its international headquarters from Shanghai to Singapore. According to industry consultant Greg Anderson, “Among the obvious reasons are no more hassles of dealing with China visas, both for executives based there, and for other GM execs based throughout the region who needed occasionally to travel to Shanghai to meet with their bosses.”

Seoul Toughens Regulation of Chinese Cruise Tourism (Korea Herald, Nov. 18): In May last year, the South Korean government implemented a system which allows foreign cruise tourists to enter and stay here for three days without a visa ― a move to help boost the local tourism industry. Now, South Korea has toughened the application procedures for Chinese cruise passengers visiting the country without visa, the Korea Immigration Service at the Justice Ministry said. Local travel agencies hosting Chinese cruise tourists are now mandated to submit ID documents issued by Chinese authorities. This is a “precautionary measure” to weed out those who enter the country disguised as tourists and become illegal immigrants. As of July 31, about 28 percent of 285,000 foreigners who made a short-term visit to Korea this year became illegal immigrants. It is estimated that there are 180,000 foreigners in Korea illegally, and the proportion of those who are Chinese stands at 39 percent.

How Immigration Died–Part 1 (The Hill, Nov. 12): This article tells the inside story of how immigration reform negotiations among the House of Representatives “gang of eight” imploded. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), refused pleas from Republican negotiators to back the bill. Raul Labrador (R-ID) quit the gang in May, followed by Sam Johnson (R-TX) and John Carter (R-TX) in September. When the Senate was poised to pass its own bill, S.744, the White House and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), called Democratic negotiators in the House to urge they slow down negotiations–not put out a bill with a “hard trigger,” which would have resulted in immigrants losing their probationary legal status if DHS didn’t fully implement the E-Verify employment verification system within 5 years. The fear was that calls to incorporate the “hard trigger” into S.744 might doom it in the Senate. But after S.744 passed, there was no bipartisan group in the House left to push immigration reform.

Hong Kong-born Skier Shut out of Winter Olympics over Passport Issue (South China Morning Post, Nov. 9): Freestyle skier Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon may not be able to represent HK in the Sochi Winter Olympics because although he was born in HK and has a permanent ID he’s not willing to apply for an HKSAR passport, which would require him to give up his Canadian and British passports. “I would love to apply for a Hong Kong passport but the thing is that I would have to then give up my other passports and that would make it difficult for me as far as training and competing around the world goes. For example, most of my training is done in the United States and I would need to get a visa,” he lamented. Retired Olympic swimmer Wilson faced a similar quandary at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2004, Wilson was 15 and as a minor, couldn’t give up her British passport, even if she wanted to. But the IOC gave her special dispensation after the HK Olympic Committee lobbied successfully on both occasions. But the HK Olympic Committee isn’t willing to intercede in such cases anymore.

China Has Still Not Issued FDA Visas To Boost Inspection Staff (Pharmalot, Nov. 5): For the past year, the FDA has been frustrated over an inability to obtain visas from China for its staffers to work on a long-term basis in the country, according to this trade publication. And the protracted delay has prevented the agency from proceeding with plans to increase inspections, bolster regulatory practices and collaborate with Chinese authorities on public health strategies.

As Border Defections Drop, ‘Southern Money’ Pours In (NKnews.org, Nov. 6): Fortification of the PRC-North Korean border has pushed up the price paid to smugglers from USD 300-500 in 2008 to USD 4000-5000 now. The number of North Koreans hiding in China at any moment has plummeted from 200,000 in the late 1990s to less than 10,000 now.

Foreigners Disobeying Rules Could Be Barred from Leaving (China Daily, Nov. 2): The Supreme People’s Court recently issued a list of 31,259 people–including five from overseas–whose departure has been prohibited due to failure to comply with court-ordered payments and other rulings. / A foreign national may not leave the country if he or she, among other things: (1) is subject to a criminal sentence that has not been completed, or is the defendant or suspect in a criminal case (unless the sentenced person is transferred in accordance with the relevant agreements signed between China and another country); (2) is involved in a civil case which has not been closed and the People’s Court has decided that he or she must not leave the country; or (3) has defaulted on the remuneration of labor to workers and the relevant department of the State Council or the people’s government of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government has ordered that he or she shall not leave the country.

China Eyes Adopting International Law to Spark Life into Trade Zones (Reuters, Nov. 5): Sources said Chinese leaders have been discussing the adoption of an international legal system in the free trade zones (FTZs) for the first time to help lure foreign companies, although views are varied. / I’m not sure what an “international legal system” means. But so far, the Shanghai FTZ Framework doesn’t involve any special visa provisions.

Four Gaps That Hinder Overseas Talents’ Return to China (Oct. 18, 2013): Wang Huiyao, vice president of the Western Returned Scholars Associations and director of Center for China and Globalization believes that four gaps make returning to China less attractive to overseas Chinese: career development may be faster overseas, environmental problems at home, difficulties obtaining a Chinese green card, and differences in the Chinese and Western educations systems. / Since the PRC doesn’t recognize dual nationality, to attract and keep overseas Chinese, creation of a transparent and more liberal green card system is an imperative.

International Students in China Hit Record High (Xinhua, Oct. 25): A total of 328,330 international students from 200 countries and regions studied in China in 2012, up 12.2 percent from 2011, according to the Ministry of Education.

Chinese Company Falling Short of Goal for California Jobs (New York Times, Oct. 25): The state of California has fined BYD $100,000 for minimum wage violations. This after the Chinese car maker received nearly $2 million in tax subsidies to set up a U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. It’s also secured over $ 40 million in contracts with LA and Long Beach transit authorities to produce electric buses. But the company has fewer than 40 workers here. The employees earning under California’s $8/hr minimum wage include at least 5 Chinese visa holders paid in RMB. One worker said they were earning $1.50 an hour plus a $50-per-day allowance. / The article doesn’t specify what visa types the employees hold, but depending on the facts Homeland Security and/or U.S. Department of Labor enforcement actions may follow.

When the Best and Brightest Leave India and China (Bloomberg, Oct. 21): Emigration of the best and brightest leads to “brain drain”–at least temporarily–but also to significant remittances. Moreover, India’s returning diaspora over the last two decades has been largely responsible for the country’s fresh energy, capital, information, networks, and ideas.

Forget Free Trade. Try Free Immigration (Bloomberg, Oct. 22): The UK’s “open for business” policy of facilitating travel by wealthy Chinese tourists and businesspersons is matched with hard-line immigration policies to keep out others. More generally, global wars for immigrant investors, talent, and wealthy tourists are matched by xenophobia. This is despite the labor shortages created by the greying of populations in wealthy countries. There is no sustained attempt to draw up a global or regional framework of principles governing cross-border flows of people, even by institutions such as the World Trade Organization, which lays down the rules governing the international trade of goods and services, or the International Monetary Fund, which concerns itself with the stability of the international monetary system and global capital markets. “A global institutional framework for migration could regulate low-cost labor as well as the so-called ‘talent elites’ while ensuring the rights of irregular migrants.” / For better or worse, resistance to a global framework is rooted in the link between decisions about who to expel or admit and national sovereignty. Recent advances in fighting against human smuggling and trafficking have been possible because they protect instead of eroding sovereignty.

Darrell Issa to Introduce Immigration Bill (Politico, Oct. 23): Issa (R-CA) is planning to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives to provide 6-years legal status to undocumented immigrants. They would be able to use this period to regularize their status in the U.S. They could also travel to their native countries during this period. Issa said he’s seeking a middle ground between amnesty and the status quo.

NASA Keeps Chinese Away from Aliens (Bloomberg, Oct. 9): A NASA moritorium and 2011 legislation ban nationals of China and several other countries from NASA facilities, in the wake of espionage allegations. As a result, Chinese researchers will be unable to attend a November conference on alien worlds at NASA. Some condemn the ban as improper discrimination. Several prominent American researchers are boycotting the conference in protest.

NASA Ban on Chinese Scientists ‘Inaccurate’: Lawmaker (Pys.org, Oct. 8, 2013): The member of Congress who sponsored 2011 legislation says it bars Chinese officials but not all Chinese nationals from multilateral meetings at NASA facilities.

Growing Number of African Entrepreneurs Thriving in Southern China (South China Morning Post, Sept. 21): Guangzhou is home to at least 20,000 Africans–or possibly as high as 100,000 counting visitors and those without valid visas. Some of them have become successful in business by exporting electronics and clothes to Africa. However, the increasing clampdown on visas is a serious problem for the community. / Reciprocal treatment could become an issue given the million Chinese now living in Africa.

In China, Mixed Marriages Can Be a Labor of Love (Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 21, 2013): In Guangzhou, a growing number of African traders are marrying Chinese women. Yet, many have to renew their visas every few months and live under constant threat of separation from their families. Also, if their children apply for a foreign passport then they are ineligible for a Chinese hukou and ineligible for benefits such as attending public school, unless they pay a hefty tuition. The community has been trying to start an African-Chinese school, and even has a building, but the school hasn’t been approved by government authorities.

Non-residents Face Hard and Costly Road to Get around the Hukou Barrier (South China Morning Post, Sept. 24): Chinese migrants to Beijing have a hard time getting a hukou, the right to permanently reside in the capital. The hukou controls access to more than 80 welfare services in Beijing. For example, to buy a home those without a hukou must show tax documents going back five years and proof of social security payments. Similar restrictions apply to qualifying for low-income housing, buying cars, schooling, and pensions. There’s a black market in Beijing hukous. / This story is about China’s internal migrants, not foreign immigrants. Almost 13 million of Beijing’s population of 20 million have no hukou. It puts into perspective the difficulties of China’s 630,000 or so foreign residence permit holders.

House Immigration ‘Gang of 7′ Loses Two More GOP Members (CQ Roll Call, Sept. 22): Comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) efforts have been stalled in the House since the Senate passed a bill (S.744) in June. Texas GOP Reps. Sam Johnson and John Carter have left the “Gang of 7” bipartisan group attempting to draft bipartisan immigration reform legislation in the House. With the prior departure of Raul Labrador (R-OH), that leaves just one lone Republican, Mario Diaz Balart of Florida.

House Republicans Say They’ll Act on Immigration Reform This Year (Washington Post, Sept. 23): House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) says immigration legislation remains on the agenda despite a crowded calendar. And Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) says his committee is still working on immigration legislation. Reportedly, he and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are working on some version of the DREAM Act to grant legal status to young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Nancy Pelosi Plans to Introduce Immigration Reform Bill (Politico, Sept. 23): House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may introduce in the House the comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) in the form that it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee–not the final version that subsequently was passed by the full Senate. The piece of the final bill that she wants to strip out is controversial border-security provisions that were inserted into the legislation in the final days of floor debate in order to gain Republican support. The amendment, drafted by Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), would double the number of agents on the U.S.-Mexico boundary and included requirements to finish a 700-mile fence along the border. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently said that “we don’t need [the] 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents” the Corker-Hoeven amendment would require.

More Foreigners Get Residency Permits (China Daily, Sept. 16): Despite the title, this article is about permanent residents (永久居留证), i.e., green cards, as opposed to residence permits (居留许可). (The latter allow a foreign national to live in China for a period of 1/2 a year to 5 years for purposes such as work, study, or family reunion.) The Ministry of Public Security issued 1202 green cards last year, more than half to family members of PRC citizens. The Ministries of Public Security and Foreign Affairs are drafting rules that may make the application process easier. By the end of 2012, there were 633,000 foreigners living in China. / This means only about 1 in 100 had a green card.

Exit and Entry Management Undergoes Several Changes (China Daily, Sept. 16): Interview of ZHENG Baigang, head of the Ministry of Public Security’s Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration, regarding the new regulations effective Sept. 1.

China’s New Visa Regulations Benefit Foreigners (Global Times, Sept. 17): This op-ed responds to “grumbling” by foreign nationals and their employers about how increased residence permit processing times (now 15 work days) are interrupting business travel, as reported by Reuters and others. The op-ed’s position is that longer processing times are required for “stricter scrutiny” to manage the “daunting task” of managing foreign nationals in China.

Immigration Reform podcast (Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 11): Edward Alden, a senior fellow at CFR, leads a conversation with professors and students on U.S. immigration reform. / There’s a lot of bitter partisanship about comprehensive immigration reform. This talk is level-headed analysis to help get your head around the complex proposed legislation.