The visa application process for Germany will be simplified with the introduction of an electronic visa system in May 2015, the director of the visa division at the German embassy in Beijing announced at an annual tourism promotion event held in Beijing by the German National Tourism Board on November 17.
With the system in place, Chinese applicants only need to visit the embassy to provide fingerprints and a photo when submitting visa application for the first time, and this information will be stored in the system for six years for subsequent applications.
Just a day before this announcement, France made a good will gesture in a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jingpin and French Prime Minister Francois Hollande by offering to simplify visa application procedures for Chinese nationals.
In late October, the Delegation of European Union to China announced in its website that the processing of application for Schengen visas would be simplified, effective October 27. Apart from special visa types, Chinese visitors no longer have to submit documents to prove hotel reservations and air tickets when applying, making it more convenient for Chinese to go on business visits, short-term training, cultural or sports activities, and visit relatives. It was welcomed news as the Schengen visa is a “must have” for Chinese traveling to EU destinations.
The UK, France, Germany and Italy had already started to fast-track visas for Chinese even before the EU Commission announcement. Xinhua reported that Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Ramoy told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on his September state visit that Chinese visitors to Spain would enjoy 48-hour express visas processing. Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also agreed to a 36-hour express service on his visit to China in June.
The UK followed suit and shortened processing time for express visas to 24 hours starting last August, for an additional fee of GBP600.
European countries have continued to show good will by simplifying visa processing for Chinese visitors. France relaxed the processing of tourist visas to 48 hours for Chinese nationals in January and Germany agreed to outsource their Schengen visa applications to a special visa center where Chinese can process non-work visas within three working days at no additional cost.
To attract Chinese talents to Europe, France’s ambassador to China Sylvie Bermann said that France is now testing a “Visas for Talents” program that offers faster and simpler application to encourage more Chinese to study in France.(Translation by David)