A Foreign Ministry official in charge of consular affairs said that the China-US long-term visa facilitation arrangement "has not been nullified and will continue to be valid". The official made the comment when dismissing online speculation that the China-US agreement on 10-year visas was nullified.
Massive online discussions were triggered after the US Customs and Border Protection agency said Chinese travelers will be required later this year to complete an Electronic Visa Update System to gain entry to the US if they have a 10-year visa.
According to a March 4 release by the official website of the ministry, the official said the recent measure adopted by the US "does not require another visa application, it makes no difference to the visas' term of validity, and the relevant visa holders are not required to go to US embassies or consulates".
The official noted that in November, 2014, the governments of the US and China entered into an agreement on a reciprocal basis, to issue visitor visas with 10-year validity. Countries also consider safeguarding national security when offering visa facilitation, and individuals of countries enjoying US visa exemption are also required to fill in similar forms before their admission to the US, the official noted.
The Chinese side will follow the principle of reciprocity and "make according arrangements at an appropriate timing", he said. Technically speaking, the timely update of information "will be conducive to making the visa arrangement closer to perfection and sustainability", he added. As the China-US Year of Tourism has started, the cultural exchanges will be expanded between China and the US, the official said.
According to answers released on the US department's official website to frequently asked questions about EVUS, the system will be "used by nationals of China holding a 10-year B1/B2, B1 or B2 (visitor) visa periodically to update basic biographic information to facilitate their travel to the United States".
In addition to a valid visa, travelers will be required to complete an EVUS form to be admitted into the United States "starting in November 2016", the website said.
"Enrollments generally last for two years or when the traveler's visa or passport expires, whichever comes first," it said. "Completing this form will help facilitate the admission of Chinese travelers into the United States," it added.
As for whether someone else could update information in EVUS on a traveler's behalf, the website said "Yes".
"A friend, relative, travel industry professional, or another third party may submit the required information to EVUS on a traveler's behalf. A third party may also pay related fees on behalf of the traveler," it said.
When asked "do other countries have this requirement", the website said this requirement is new, and the US government "expects that this requirement may be applied to additional countries in the future".