Extended durations will enable Chinese travelers to have easier access to the United States, but could also result in a surge in wealthy nationals moving away for good, as Wang Qian reports.
Improvement in visa regulations for Chinese tourists is a good idea to boost the Chinese outbound tourism to the US but it may trigger a rise in rich Chinese leaving China.
On Sept 8th was held in Xiamen the China International Fair for investment and trade. The flagship of this fair was undeniably the new EB-5 Visa program. The US Immigration Services explained that this program is for anyone who has made an investment of at least $500 000 and created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs. Should they fulfill those requirements they will be granted permanent residence in the country with their family.
Where US – China had their Visa relationship modified
This is quite an investment, even for people who have the means to do it, simply because going to a foreign country without knowing anything about it is often a daunting task. Uncertainties of having the same wealth as in China, adjusting well to the country, the language barrier and the cultural differences are so many obstacles immigrants need to overcome, even the richest.
The big change in visa regulation.
Recently a change announced by US president Barack Obama seemed to wash away those doubts for many wealthy Chinese.
The new visa regulation is as follow :
Under the mutual agreement that came into effect November 12th, the following visas have been changed in China and the US and their citizens
- Multi entry visa
- Short term
- Business visas
They all can be extended from one to 10 years. This new regulation changes everything. Indeed, since for Chinese citizen it is apparently much easier to come and go between both countries they can take their time to adjust to the country they want to emigrate to and jump when they are ready. Chinese investors will have the time to make a well documented decision before jumping off the boat according to the Global Investment Lawyers Association.
As stated earlier, it all seems almost too easy. When asked further questions about this, American Immigration Services clearly state that new programs may come but the eligibility standard stay the same. So the Customs and Border Protection officers will still carefully examine who enters and who doesn’t.
As a consequence, people rushing to the US thinking that they can easily make it will be sorely disappointed if they don’t build a strong case for themselves.
In theory EB-5 program is for all but in practice mostly Chinese do use it.
Among the 10600 EB-5 visas delivered from October 2013 to September 2014, more than 9000 were for Chinese passports.
Why such success?
Simple, Chinese who have the buying power wish for a better education for their children and a less polluted environment and China doesn’t rank well for these. In addition Chinese hugely distrust food and water in China because of the many scandals that have happened these past few years.
Given that the living conditions in the US are much better, they want to go where the grass is much greener, the US.
Analysts state that whether the US seems to have a more Chinese friendly regulation, it has little effect to cause a surge in Chinese immigration. What is driving Chinese citizens away from their country are the bad living conditions. As long as they stay the same, an increasing number of Chinese residents will do their best to leave their home country for good.
After the announcement of these new visa policies, opinion in the American inbound tourism industry diverged. Some believe that there will definitely be a surge of Chinese tourists in the US while others remain highly skeptical.
Ctrip international has released figures showing that there has been a significant rise in asking about trip to the US from their Chinese customers. Other agencies have insisted that not only will it make life much easier for tourists but also for students and businessmen as well.
Travelling when you are Chinese becomes easier than ever.
Putting the recent huge increase in flights and the new visa regulations for Chinese tourists and the result has to be a great increase in the outbound Chinese tourism market in the US. It is now up to American traveling agencies to be ready to welcome this new tidal wave with compelling product offer.
Indeed, let’s not forget that in 2013 they had already spent a whopping $21 billion and helped support more than 100 000 jobs. This is not something a country can miss, especially given the US economy these days.
There is even better news: Chinese average income is rising, which means that within the next few years there will be more people able to afford a trip abroad. This may trigger a big change compared to what the situation is now since only a “small number” of Chinese can afford this.
Forecast are hard to trust but most experts in the tourism industry agree that Chinese tourism in the US may very well go past the 7million landmark by 2020 translating into a $85 billion per year spent in the country. It goes without saying that the number of jobs related to this will also explode and probably go up to about 400 000
Chinese invest in US real estate.
In China, not only there is a high pollution, a very unattractive education system to say the least but also real estate prices rising to the stars, especially in first tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing. In these conditions, Chinese increasingly contact real estate agencies to acquire properties in the US for them or their children going to study there. Chinese bought properties amount to a total of 22 billion dollars and 25% of the global international sales. This may seem huge but it will keep increasing as more wealthy Chinese will leave China.