China is reopening for business travel, but there is still so much we don’t know – and so much misinformation out there. Colleen Black, VP of Partnerships and Business Development at Tripkicks sat down with Nan Park, VP of Client Solutions at CIBT, the leading global visa and passport provider, to help clarify the situation and provide an understanding of the current state, and the possible upcoming changes. Below is a summary of the discussion.
What has recently changed with China’s reopening?
The major change for US business travelers is that China has removed foreign arrival quarantine requirements which makes business travel to China much easier and more affordable (since it removes the cost related to quarantine). China previously required travelers to quarantine in a government facility for an extended period. There are still mandated covid testing requirements. In the past 3 years, entry to China has been difficult, and now anyone who is conducting business can enter without a complicated process, before they engage in business activities.
Are there changes to the US visa requirements?
Everyone traveling to China for business needs to apply for a new Visa. This includes people who had 10-year Visas that appear to have an expiration date in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that not all travel purposes are open from a Visa perspective. There are work purposes, business purposes, certain technical flight-crew categories, but tourist purposes are not available yet. We are expecting the government to announce something around that in the near future.
Are visa requirements similar for non-US travelers?
Every country will have its own unique nuances. Most European companies have some level of shorter validity as compared to the US. www.CIBTvisas.com/blog is where you can see new information for specific countries.
What is the most important thing for a Travel Manager to understand before they allow travelers to book travel to China?
Travel Managers need to consider where their travelers are based. Not all locations are going to have a similar process.
It’s also important to understand the processing time before you book travel, since this will impact the planning process, and dates. Processing times can be found on the CIBT site.
How will processing times impact employees who are looking to travel to China?
The processing time for a US citizen is between 2-3 weeks at the moment. But, since the flight availability is still being restored (and daily flights are not common from all major locations), travelers need to look at how long they’ll need to obtain a visa, and then when the next available flight may be. This is an area where Travel Managers may need to help guide employees .
Are the rules different for immigration into China?
Immigration has not really been impacted, because visa policies are geared towards short-term stays. However, we do expect to see a shift with the duration of stays. Over the past few years, if a traveler visited China, they would quarantine for 3- 4 weeks, it was not possible to go for quick business meetings. Now, with the quarantine lifted, companies will begin to shift from longer-term trips to ones with shorter durations, which will also help to control associated costs. As flight availability picks up, we expect to see more short-term business travel, which mirrors the pre-pandemic trends.
In this rapidly changing environment, what should we all keep an eye on?
Know the source of truth to get the most up to date requirements. Whether it’s through CIBT directly, the CIBT integration into Tripkicks, or your specific provider. Right now, policies can change every few days, but we expect some stabilization in the coming weeks. CIBT is there as a resource to support you.
What is the most important thing for Travel Managers to communicate to its travelers about these changes?
The most important message for a TM to communicate is that everyone needs a new Visa. An employee may have a visa with a future expiration date – but it is actually not valid, since those visas have been suspended.
To hear the latest on China’s reopening, register for the CIBT webinar on Tuesday, January 24th.