China to introduce US style visa rules for foreigners

PTI - Dec 27, 2011 - Beijing: China will introduce US style visa rules for foreigners, which included procedures like finger printing, to put in place biological identification data in order to "curb illegal entry" in the country to seek jobs.

The draft law on entry and exit procedures, currently under consideration by China's legislature, National People's Congress, for the first time, allows the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put in place a system to gather biological identification data, such as fingerprints, on foreign visitors.

The draft also stipulates that foreigners should be fingerprinted by public security departments when they apply for a residential certificate, official media reported today.

China already has stringent rules for resident permits which are given every year for foreigners working here.

All foreigners including the journalists have to under go health checks on arrival before getting resident visas and have to report to nearest police station within 24 hours.

Till last year China stipulated foreigners to undergo mandatory AIDS tests before they arrive to seek resident permits. It was done away with following criticism that it discriminated people with HIV.

The regulations currently stipulate that foreigners staying for longer than a year should apply for a residential certificate, while the proposed draft requires visitors to do so within a month after entering China, "if their visa requires".

Yang Huanning, vice-minister of public security, told lawmakers at their bimonthly session that fingerprints and other biotechnology information are "effective measures" in identification and can speed up arrival and departure procedures at customs.

The draft, an integration of the current separate rules for foreigners and Chinese citizens, aims to "facilitate exchanges while making sure that those who should not enter are kept out", Yang said.

In addition, the proposal said foreigners being suspected of illegal entry, stay for employment, or those suspected of threatening national security, can be detained for up to 60 days for investigation, if the case is "complicated".

China recorded 260 million arrivals and departures from January to September, according to state-run China Daily. This represented a massive increase from 12.1 million in 1980.

The number of arrivals and departures has been increasing by 10 per cent annually since the 1990s, according to the ministries of public security and foreign affairs.

The Ministry of Public Security said that although the number of illegal aliens was generally "stable", it is essential to improve the "management and control system" for foreigners. The draft also prevents foreign businessmen who do not pay wages from leaving the country.

It also said foreigners undertaking a job without a work permit, or overseas students working longer than the allocated time, are defined as "illegal employees".

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