Foreigners' original visas will remain valid when they intend to extend their stay in China starting in September, Beijing's exit-entry administration said on Thursday.
Currently, if foreign nationals want to prolong their stays in the country, their original visas, whether expired or not, must be canceled, according to the administration under the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
"It was inconvenient and became the main target of most foreigners' complaints," said Chen Yan, a police officer who processes foreigners' visas.
That problem will be resolved when a revised regulation on exit-entry management for foreigners takes effect on Sept 1.
Under the regulation, if foreigners apply to lengthen their stay in the country with unexpired visas, they can apply for a stay-time extension, "which means they can continue to use the old visas," she explained.
"The original visas will remain valid, and the original entry time will not be affected," she said.
Also, foreigners should submit their passports and be given a receipt as they apply for extensions, changes and replacements of residence visas.
Exit-entry administrations will hand their cases within 15 working days.
The administration will print foreigners' photos on the receipt, helping other departments confirm applicants' identities.
"The receipt will remain valid while police officers process the application," she said.
Chen added that enforcement of the new policy may be similar across the country, but the workload in big cities will increase.
But she said that where the receipt can be used and its effectiveness need further review, "since the matter not only concerns exit-entry administrations, but also other ministries, such as transportation departments," she said.
Henry Manner, a citizen of Finland who runs a business in Tianjin, said he doesn't think the coming regulation will create much inconvenience for him.
"Everyone knows, the faster the better. But if you make plans in advance, it won't affect you much," he said.
To better solve foreign applicants' issues, the administration in the capital has provided weekly training sessions since July, said Liu Xiaozheng, an office worker at the authority's foreign visa department.
"We have posted changes in the coming regulation in English on electronic screens of our administration's hall, and dispatched more police officers to do consultant services," she said.
In addition, the administration's official micro blog will be online starting Sept 1 on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, giving explanations of the new policy and answering questions from foreigners, said Yang Yang, an employee of the administration.
Three police officers, who can interact with netizens in English, will be responsible for maintaining the micro blog, called Beijing Exit-Entry Police, from 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays, she said.
"I hope the micro blog will feature various languages in the near future so more foreign applicants can be served," she added.
Source: China Daily