Everyone, who visited China in the last years, is well aware that in order to pass the customs and enter China, a valid visa is necessary. The whole procedure may not be complicated and you can always ask some specialized company for help, but it takes time and money: filling the form, preparing the documents, delivering them to the embassy or consulate, waiting for decision – surely, nobody enjoys those.
The new trend in chinese visa policy
The major change in this policy occurred on 1 January 2013 – Beijing and Shanghai municipalities declared that transit passengers have right to spend 72 hours in those cities without visa. Necessary documents include: a valid passport, air tickets and destination country visa (if applied). The countries that are eligible for the 72-hour visa-free transit policy are as follows: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Since August, the next city which allowed transit passengers to stay without a visa is Guangzhou. It is likely that it will be accompanied by the quickly developing Shenzhen very soon.
The 72-hours period starts as soon as the permission is issued. You should possess the air ticket to the third country (which may include Hong-Kong or Macau), so it is impossible to travel on a route such as London-Beijing-London. For someone, who is going to some Asian country and is changing flights in Beijing, the new law is very convenient and allows to spare money and time.
The direction of changes in China’s visa policy is very obvious. Obtaining a long-term residence permit is difficult, not to mention the formalities, which you have to face when applying for work permit. The government is obviously aiming at protecting job market and keeping troublemaking foreigners out of the country, with the exception for a few specialists in demand. As for the short stays, the regulations are getting more liberal. Maybe we will be able to travel to China without visa quite soon.