Imagine no more last-minute scramble for expedited visa applications before an emergency business meeting or event.
The United States and China now offer 10-year multiple-entry visas to business travelers and others, a big step up from the previous one-year maximum term.
“U.S. and Chinese citizens who regularly travel back and forth between the U.S. and China will benefit from the longer validity by not having to apply and pay the application fee every year,” the U.S. Department of State says on its website.
The rules, which first took effect in November, might make it easier for Americans to attend Chinese events like Chinaplas — and for Chinese citizens to participate in U.S. events like NPE.
Michael Taylor, senior director of international affairs and trade at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., said he has organized workshops in China on how to make it easier to get a visa for NPE.
Regarding the extension of the visa term, he wasn't sure it would immediately boost Chinese attendance at NPE.
“The general difficulties are still the same, the wait times are the same, the [in-person visa] interviews are still basically the same,” Taylor said.
And he's probably right. In fact, a few Chinese sources told me at NPE that their colleagues' U.S. visa applications had been rejected, so they couldn't make it to the triennial trade show in Orlando.
But for those who got one of the new visa, now they are good for 10 years and they don't need to worry about it again for a long time.
Taylor put it this way: “The real advantage is going to be [for] companies coming to NPE this year, they get the 10-year visa, and they can potentially — if they haven't already entered the market, maybe NPE allows them to explore and decide how to enter it — then they are going to be coming more frequently over the next few years to get the business up and running; or to expand something. Maybe they had an office somewhere and a representative, but they haven't really been penetrating the market. That's going to require more frequent travel.”
Chinaplas organizer Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd. also sees the potential benefits.
“It's a good thing,” Chairman Stanley Chu said at Chinaplas.
He added that he hopes to see further simplification of the visa process between the two countries to smooth the exchange.