More Chinese embassies ease visa restrictions as intl students prepare their return to universities in China
Published: Aug 24, 2022 11:19 PM
International students take pottery class in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on March 28, 2019.Photo:IC

International students take pottery class in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on March 28, 2019.Photo:IC

China continues to ease its visa restrictions for foreigners, with dozens of Chinese embassies having resumed another two types of visa services for foreigners, after it largely suspended issuing visas to foreign students and others more than two years ago at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting on Wednesday, holders of valid APEC Business Travel Cards or study residence permits are allowed to enter China, according to dozens of Chinese embassies including those in the UK, US, France, India, Pakistan and Japan.

Also, long-term overseas students who are coming to China for educational purposes can submit their X1 visa applications to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center. Families of students studying in China can apply to live with or visit their relatives in China. 

Visa applications from short-term overseas students for the non-academic education (X2) visa are not accepted at the moment, according to an announcement by the Chinese Embassy in the US on August 19. Many other embassies also have released a similar statement.

The Chinese Embassy in Serbia confirmed to the Global Times on Wednesday the news about the visa and travel policy adjustment. The Chinese Embassy in Serbia also stated that those who met the requirements of the visa waiver agreement between China and Serbia could travel to China if necessary.

International passengers need to take two PCR tests for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their departure, the second of which must be within 24 hours of their departure.

International students reached by the Global Times are thrilled to hear this update. Some are preparing their visa applications in the hope they can return to their universities in China as soon as possible.

An international student from Pakistan on Twitter on Wednesday shared her joy and expressed her hope to come back to China as soon as possible after she successfully applied for the visa. The student, who studies at a university in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the application process was smooth and quick.

Also, COVID-19 rules on overseas flights have also been relaxed. Starting from August 7, any flight with five detected COVID-19 cases will be suspended for one week if the confirmed cases account for 4 percent of all those onboard, and for two weeks if the confirmed cases account for 8 percent, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

From August 1 to Wednesday, a total of 685 inbound passenger flights arrived in China, an average of 200 flights per week, an increase of 16 percent compared with the daily average in July. More than 30 percent of the flights were from South Korea and Japan, data from information provider VariFlight sent to the Global Times on Wednesday showed.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which resumed passenger flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing in June, has one direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Beijing and Shanghai per week. The company told the Global Times on Wednesday that it may increase services between the two countries.

As more foreigners are allowed to enter China, Chinese cities and regions, especially those providing inbound passengers with quarantine services, face pressure in preventing inbound epidemic.

It is a general trend that China is easing its border restrictions and quarantine requirements while sticking to the dynamic zero-COVID policy, Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based medical expert who closely follows public health issues, told the Global Times on Wednesday. He noted that this cannot be achieved overnight due to potential surge of COVID-19 cases.

The most practical response to the potential inbound infections would be detecting them and isolating them as soon as possible, and tracking the infection origin in a timely manner, so as to prevent sporadic infections from developing into a large-scale outbreak, Zhuang pointed out.

Zhu Haoning and Huang Ziting contributed to this story