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China: New Visa-Free Policy for Hainan Island

(Apr. 30, 2018) On April 18, 2018, China’s newly created State Immigration Administration (SIA) issued a circular announcing a new visa-free policy that will allow visitors from 59 countries, including the United States, to enter Hainan Province and stay for 30 days without obtaining a visa. (Guojia Yimin Guanli Ju Gonggao [State Immigration Administration Circular] (Apr. 18, 2018), SIA website (in Chinese).) The new policy will take effect on May 1, 2018.

According to the SIA circular, these visitors must be traveling to Hainan for sightseeing on an ordinary passport and be received by a travel agency incorporated in Hainan. After entering Hainan, they are permitted to stay only within the jurisdiction of the province without going to other areas of China. (Id.)

The new visa-free policy aims to nurture the tourism industry of the island province, which is also China’s southernmost province. Hainan currently has a visa-free policy in place that allows group visitors from 26 countries to enter Hainan and stay for 15 or 21 days, depending on the country of origin. (Cui Jia, Hainan to Offer 30-day Visa-Free Period for Visitors from 59 Countries, CHINA DAILY (Apr. 18, 2018).)

The SIA was officially established on April 2, 2018, as part of the major plan to restructure China’s central government that was announced in the March 2018 National People’s Congress session. Under the management of the Ministry of Public Security, the SIA is assigned the functions of immigration and border control, including making and implementing immigration policies; exit and entry control; and foreigners’ stays. (Zhang Yan, New Immigration Department Set Up, CHINA DAILY (Apr. 3, 2018).)