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Increase in Validity of B-1/B-2, and F-1 Visas for Chinese

In a significant development which undoubtedly strengthens U.S. and China ties, the U.S. government has announced that effective immediately, it will increase the validity period for business, tourist and student visas for Chinese citizens.

President Obama announced the increase in visa benefits during a November 13, 2014 address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in Beijing. Whereas the visas are currently only valid for one year at a time, the new agreement will allow multiple entry business and tourist visas for periods of ten years at a time–whereas student visas will be valid for up to five years. It is important to remember that while a valid visa is a required document for a foreign national entering the U.S., it is not the validity of the visa that determines the authorized period of stay during a particular visit. Rather, it is the validity of the entrant’s I-94 as determined by an officer of Customs and Border Protection that determines the valid period of stay during a given visit to the U.S. The maximum allowed period of a stay on a B-1/B-2 visa is up to six (6) months for each tourism or business visit. Students are typically admitted with a Duration of Status (D/S) period of stay–meaning the student’s authorized stay correlates to lawful maintenance of student status.

The change in visa validity periods does not have any relation to visitors needing a nonimmigrant visa waiver based on a ground of inadmissibility. Visitors issued a 10-year visa should bear in mind that if they are issued a 5 year 212(d)(3) waiver, the waiver is only valid for the period of its own validity, and a new waiver will be needed beyond that period–even if the nonimmigrant visa remains valid.

It is without a doubt that the change is a significant policy decision which have a significant impact on U.S.-China relations, fostering increased tourism and business exchange between the two countries.

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