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Starting from 12 November 2014, new student visas will start to be issued in accordance with the new reciprocal agreement between the US and the People’s Republic of China. The agreement includes a reciprocal visa arrangement among the two countries that will increase the validity of student and exchange visas from one to five years and that will permit multiple entrances. Students will however continue to be subject to all the same legal and security reviews that were previously applying to visa applicants.
The initiative comes within the broader framework of visa validity arrangement where both countries have agreed to increase the validity of short-term tourist and business visas from one to ten years (the longest validity possible under US law). The purpose of the initiative is to make foreign study a more attractive option, as well as to increase opportunities for people-to-people ties, and boosting mutual understanding. Also, he measure is meant to improve trade, investment, and business ties among the two countries, by offering easier access to both economies. In particular, the extended validity visas for students and exchange visitors will boost the bonds between Chines and American students, who will be allowed to more easily travel back and forth.
The measure arrived timely to reflect the growing pre-eminence of Chinese students for the US academic system. In fact, 28% of all foreign students and exchange visitors in the United States originate from China and, according to the latest IIE Open Doors’ report (see ACA Newsletter 'Education Europe', Edition November 2014) they account for almost 60% of the foreign-student growth at American colleges. Translated in monetary terms, this means an annual spending of UDS 8 billion provided by Chinese students in the year 2013, with an increase of nearly 24 % over the previous year.