Travel to China
A new nationwide travel ban by China took effect January 31, 2021, imposing certain regulations on all travelers to the Chinese mainland from the United States and other Western countries. This ban, which took effect immediately, was only for non-Chinese citizens who were present in China within the previous fourteen days and weren’t immediate relatives of U.S. residents or permanent resident citizens. It does not apply to visitors or tourists. There are many other countries, however, that are affected by this ban. The overall impact, however, is to reduce the flow of cheap travel to China.
One of the primary reasons for this travel ban was the implementation of a new visa system that will require all Chinese citizens applying for a visa to come over to the United States to be registered with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will then deny any application from a foreign citizen who does not meet these minimum residency requirements. This measure, which is in effect now, affects all tourists, no matter how long they’ve been visiting China or how many Chinese citizens live in the United States or other western countries. Chinese citizens who wish to visit the United States can still do so, but they must meet the Ministry’s minimum requirement of being registered with them. If they happen to have a family member in the United States or another country, they may still be denied entrance.
This new international travel ban by China does not affect citizens of Canada or Australia, who can still freely travel to China. However, any traveling to or within South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, or Hong Kong will be accompanied by additional inspections. For people who have lived in these areas for five years or more, they will also need to apply for a visa before boarding a plane to leave.
The United States was one of the first countries to notice the new Chinese immigration restrictions. The U.S. State Department released a statement saying that they are “deeply concerned” about the new travel ban. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his desire that the new restrictions will not change the ability of visitors to the United States. He also called on all foreign nationals currently traveling to China to ensure they will return home safely.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that all non-essential Chinese airlines must suspend all scheduled flights to and from the United States between now and February 14th. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson says that the move is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to prevent illegal travel across the border. There are no definite plans to fully lift the ban, but Chinese airlines are feeling the heat and are preparing for more restrictions on traveling. Many Chinese airlines are reporting major increases in flight cancellations as a result of the new measures.
It appears that the Chinese government may be trying to reduce the effect of President Trump’s executive order by implementing stricter visa requirements. Many Chinese citizens are required to obtain a visa prior to travelling to the United States, or else face penalties ranging from a large fine to immediate deportation. This is especially true for people who have family in the United States and want to visit either parent. Many of these citizens are planning to visit relatives only during the months of January and February and will therefore need to apply for a visa before leaving for China.
The U.S. airlines have issued a level 3 China travel advisory against travelling during the upcoming January and February calendar years. The level 3 China travel advisory from the airlines advises passengers travelling between now and February to book their flights early to avoid facing difficulties when applying for visa documentation. They advise frequent travelers to leave immediately and to make no plans to travel during the period of January to February. The advisory cautions that many Chinese tourists will be vacationing in the United States during this period, which could increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting the United States, making the issue of visa falsification more significant.
The level 4 Travel Ban has also been issued against January and February. The level 4 Travel Ban prevents people with valid passports from travelling to the U.S. based on the basis of whether they have obtained a Level 3 Visa, unless they can clearly demonstrate that they have a need to enter the United States for a visa. The travel advisory warns that as soon as a person reaches level four in the Chinese rankings, they will be required to get an immigrant visa from the US based on the dependability of their family. This level four procedure is similar to the procedures followed in the United Kingdom and Australia.