China has eased border entry restrictions for international students and business travelers starting on Wednesday as part of broader steps to facilitate greater cross-border travel and exchanges more than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China's embassies in a number of nations have announced the new policy that resumes the issuance of visas for international students receiving academic education in China, known as the X1.
Applicants can apply for the X1 visa by submitting the Visa Application for Study in China form and an admission letter or certificate for returning to campus issued by Chinese institutions, according to a statement issued by the Chinese embassy in Pakistan.
Under the latest policy, foreign students with valid residence permits for study can enter China without requiring a visa starting from Wednesday.
The visa-free policy will also apply to holders of the APEC Business Travel Card, a travel document issued to business travelers who are citizens of APEC participating economies. The document eliminates the need for its holder to possess a visa when visiting other APEC economies.
China requires those arriving from abroad undergo a 7-day quarantine at a hotel and 3-day health monitoring at home as part of measures to prevent imported COVID-19 cases.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a news briefing on Friday that China welcomes the return of international students to China to resume their studies.
"We have made active arrangements for this purpose and will continue to do so," he said. "With a science-based and prudent approach, we have improved visa and other policies to better facilitate cross-border travel and exchanges and cooperation with other countries."
The latest visa policy change has been welcomed by international students who were looking to continue their studies in China, as well as members of the business community.
Jaloliddin Jaloliddinov, a Pakistani student who was pursuing a degree at University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the latest policy change was great news for him as he has been eager to return to China to continue his studies after having been stranded in his home country for over two years.
Nick Coyle, an Australian who has worked in China for 13 years and is a holder of the APEC Business Travel Card, said the latest visa policy changes are "a terrific step in the right direction" to facilitate easier business travel to China.