Chinese authorities have tightened visa controls in a bid to tighten security ahead of the Olympics. These include companies now having to obtain an official invitation from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on behalf of employees ahead of visa applications being made.These recent changes apply only to travellers to mainland China, Hong Kong continues to be exempt. They also follow the outsourcing of all visa applications by the Chinese Embassy last month to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC), which has been established to help process the increased number of visa requests. The new visa restrictions are temporary and are expected to be relaxed in autumn.
Hogg Robinson Group’s (HRG) James Stevenson, Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, said, “Under new regulations, all travellers going to mainland China are now required to provide proof of flight and hotel booking prior to their visa application. Companies must now also obtain an official invitation from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on behalf of employees ahead of visa applications being made and explicitly request a multiple entry business visa if required. Without this specification the maximum regular travellers to China can secure is a double entry visa and both trips must be completed within three months.”
“The introduction of the CVASC adds an additional step to the application process and increases the cost of obtaining a visa, which differs country by country. For example, regular applications in the UK increase by £30 +VAT and express services by £40 +VAT. The move to a third party operator is a growing trend amongst embassies, with India introducing the process earlier this year, and Russia set to announce changes in the coming months,” James added.