July 11, 2012

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced an immediate, new biometric and personal appearance requirement for 17 European Economic Area (EEA)nationals applying with any Chinese consular post in the United States for any category of visa. Currently, these requirements do not apply to U.S. citizen applicants unless specifically requested by the Chinese consular post of application.

What’s Changed?

On June 30, 2012, China’s Ministry of Public Security Bureau (PSB) announced a new Exit-Entry Administration Law. While some aspects of this new law are not to be implemented until July 1, 2013, the PSB is already taking steps to collect biometric data from visa applicants. It remains to be seen whether or not collection of biometric data and personal appearance will become standard procedure worldwide.

Certain EEA Nationals Required to Appear in Person/Submit Fingerprints

The MOFA recently issued a directive to all Chinese consular posts in the United States to require personal appearance and submission of biometrics (fingerprints) for nationals of the following countries: Austria; Belgium; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Iceland; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Spain; Sweden and Switzerland.

These new requirements apply when filing any visa application (e.g., “F” business visa, “L” tourist visa or “Z” work/residence visa).

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Given recent news reports regarding alleged breaches of China’s “security” by foreign nationals and a slowing national economy, companies and assignees should be prepared for the Chinese Government to strongly enforce existing immigration compliance laws during course of this and next year.

Please note that “same-day” or “expedited” (i.e., one to two business day) processing will more than likely be unavailable for the above visa-national applicants.

Applicants should include time to travel to the Chinese consular post having jurisdiction over their U.S. residence. It is recommended that applicants arrive prior to the Consulate’s standard hours of operation (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon) as queues could be significant. Applicants may submit proof of requiring expedited processing (such as airline itineraries and/or a letter from the company stating urgent business travel), but should expect visa processing times of at least four to five business days.

Companies considering business travel for the above EEA nationals should confirm that each employee and any accompanying family members hold either a long-stay U.S. visa (e.g., H-1/H-4; L-1/L-2) or U.S. permanent residence card. An applicant’s U.S. immigration status must be valid for re-entry beyond the last date of intended stay in China. “Z” visa applicants should also evidence valid U.S. immigration status at the time of application.

Foreign nationals holding short-term visitor status (B-1/B-2 visas) will be ineligible to apply withU.S.-based Chinese consular posts.

As visa application requirements, protocols and timing expectations may change with little to no advance public notice, it is recommended that companies work with their global immigration supplier to determine the current visa application and processing times when applying to any Chinese consular post

Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management, has written this alert in coordination with our Pro-Link GLOBAL China office.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.