Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J-category visas (students and exchange visitors), are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program. U.S. citizens visiting China for business or tourism should also receive multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years. U.S. students may receive student residency permits valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program.
The changes will have huge benefits for travellers using any of the affected visas. Up to now, each visa was usually issued for just a few weeks or months, and valid for just one entry. That meant, for example, that a US national who visited China every 3 months for business had to apply at the Chinese consulate for a new visa for each trip. Chinese students who came to the US to study could not leave the US, including to visit family in specially onerous since each US visa application involves a personal visit to the consulate (Chinese visitor visa applications can be done by mail).
The Press Release from the US State Department notes the following as background to the changes:
See also the White House Fact Sheet here.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.