Multiple-entry visas issued before March 28, 2020, can now be used once again as long as they have not expired, Chinese authorities announced this week, following a suspension of these during the pandemic.
The country began reissuing single-entry business visas in July 2022, but individuals hoping to obtain these would need to forfeit any existing multi-entry visas, submit their passports to the embassy and secure references.
This deterred university recruitment teams in North America, who commonly hold 10-year visas, from returning to the country, according to David Weeks, co-founder and COO at Sunrise International.
Weeks predicted a return of university recruiters to China now that the restrictions have been lifted.
“This is immensely helpful because it removes cost, uncertainty and one more barrier for travel.”
“There are lots of recruitment events in March, April, May and then even more in the fall,” he said.
“It’s not like you’ll see the faucet turn on, but I do think that, particularly for universities in Canada and the US who don’t have in-country representatives, this is immensely helpful because it removes cost, uncertainty and one more barrier for travel.”
China has also resumed issuing tourist visas, marking the end of the stringent travel restrictions put in place during the pandemic.
“The symbolic importance is big in that this conveys that China wants to bring people-to-people exchanges back,” Weeks said.
He emphasised the importance of face-to-face recruitment in the China market.
“China is a lower trust society in many ways than those in the EU, in North America. And I think that one of the ways that you create trust is through in-person interactions and shaking hands,” he said.
Weeks added that in-person meetings can also help counteract parents’ concerns about safety and diplomatic tensions.
The latest US higher education data showed a sharp drop in the number of Chinese students in the country, decreasing by 9% in 2021/22 compared to the previous year.
Speaking at the release of the data in November, Ethan Rosenzweig, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the US State Department, said recruitment from China was a priority, adding that he was “looking forward to the PRC opening its borders for US universities to recruit in-person”.