No, China Has Not Banned Visa Agencies

By Jonathan Zhong, October 30, 2018

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On October 23, a notification was issued by China’s National Immigration Administration, stating that from November 10 of this year the country will cancel all existing operating permits for visa agencies. 

While the wording of the announcement initially caused some confusion, expats need not worry about a dearth of visa agencies going forward. In effect, what the announcement means is that visa agencies are no longer required to apply for operating permits in order to do business. 

Under the new regulations, these agencies are required to only have a business license. The move is seen as a step towards simplifying application processes for visa agencies operating within the country. 

The notification follows on from the country’s previous drive for the ‘Reform Towards Separating Business Licenses and Permits,’ which was piloted in Shanghai in 2016. These new rules also seek to negate the need for operating permits, allowing businesses to operate on a business license alone.

The changes also fall in line with China’s policy of ‘Streamlining Administration and Delegating Authorities,’ which was launched in 2014 by the Chinese State Council in a bid to improve on efficiency and cut down on red tape within the government.

While this is certainly good news for prospective visa agencies, it begs the question as to how visa applicants can now discern between legitimate and illegitimate companies providing these services. For nearly two decades in China, the operational permit for visa agencies has been regarded as an easy criterion for customers to identify whether a visa agency is legitimate or not. 

[Cover image via Torbakhopper/Flickr]

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