China to launch US style visa rules for foreigners

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

Last Updated: Dec 27, 2011, 13:16 PM IST

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 undergo
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".

PTI