China to give 10-year visas to Canadians

Updated: 2015-03-10 11:22

By Paul Welitzkin in New York and Rena Li in Toronto(China Daily USA)

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China to give 10-year visas to Canadians

Xue Bing (right), the Chinese consul general in Toronto, issues the first long-term, multiple-entry visa to Canadian citizen Timothy Mark Hay at the Chinese visa Application Service Centre in Toronto on Monday. The period of validity of Hay's visa is from March 9, 2015, to March 9, 2024. [Li Na / China Daily]

Canadians traveling to China will now be eligible for a 10-year visa from the Chinese government.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the new visa on Sunday. In addition to being valid for up to 10 years, it will ease travel, reduce costs and cut down on delays and preparation time for trips to China, according to Ed Fast, minister of International Trade for Canada.

"(The) announcement of multiple-entry visas will greatly benefit Canadians, from businesses to tourists to those visiting family members back in China," Fast said in a statement.

"This 10-year visa will be of great convenience to over a million Canadians of mainland Chinese origin in Canada holding Canadian passports and over 300,000 Canadian passport holders residing in Hong Kong who as citizens of Canada require a visa to enter the PRC (under China's Nationality Law, dual citizenship is not recognized, so on acquisition of a foreign citizenship, Chinese citizenship is automatically revoked). Most such people return to China to visit relatives," Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China who is now a professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, said in an e-mail.

"It will simplify the processes involved in travel planning and obtaining visas. It usually takes between two and three days to obtain a visa which includes handing in your passport to a travel agency and or the consulate," said Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council.

"More than 2,000 people now travel back and forth between the two countries every day, which is the number that traveled per year in the 1970s," said Chris Alexander, Canada`s Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) minister. "We know the number will go even further as the result of the multiple-entry visa effective today."

CIC adopted the 10-year multiple-entry visa as its standard visa for every country in February 2014. It allows approved travelers to visit Canada as many times as they want, for up to 10 years, without having to re-apply each time.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that the latest move will further promote exchanges and benefit people in both countries. Gao Ping, consul general at the Chinese embassy in Canada, said China issued 230,000 visas to Canadians last year, with 80 percent of them traveling to China for business, tourism or family visits.

"It becomes so much easier for us to travel to China without applying for a visa each time. Definitely, it has a lot of economic benefits for Canadian who do business in Canada," said Ken Ng, chairman of the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Markham.

"It's probably one of the best announcements between the both countries on the high level," said Senator Victor Oh, who was one of the delegates on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's third visit to China in November 2014. "I'm sure this announcement is going to make more people on the both sides travel now. We look forward to more exchange, more ties, more business and more direct flights between the two countries."

Effective Monday, Canadians may submit their requests for the new multiple-entry visa to Chinese consulates and authorities. China is a priority market under Canada's Global Markets Action Plan, the government's blueprint for creating jobs and prosperity through exports, as well as Canada's second-largest trading partner.

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Yang Feiyue in Beijing contributed to this report.