As part of the group of landmark agreements to come from President Barack Obama’s recent meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Obama announced Nov. 10 that validity periods for tourist and business travel visas for Chinese nationals would be extended from one to 10 years, which will significantly widen business channels between Houston and China.
The Chinese government is expected to announce the same change to its own visa-validity periods any day now as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this program would be absolutely reciprocal.
The process for Chinese nationals to set up business operations in Houston can span a longer period of time than the previous one-year visas allowed for — meaning business owners would have to reapply for visas in the middle of setting up a Houston-based venture and even risk denial, said Kathryn Karam, Houston immigration lawyer who deals with many Chinese clients.
“Having a visa that’s going to allow them to go back and forth for over the span of a year is really helpful,” said Karam.
Conversely, Houston entrepreneurs will also benefit from being able to send their people to China to oversee operations with more frequency and for less time and money.