Good news for travelers to (and from) China: The U.S. and China have agreed to issue tourist and business visas that will be valid for 10 years, President Obama announced Monday.
The reciprocal policy extending the validity of visas goes into effect Wednesday.
Chinese applicants seeking a tourist or business visa for the United States will receive multiple-entry visas good for 10 years and vice versa for Americans visiting China.
In 2013, 1.8-million Chinese visitors came to the United States and brought an estimated $21.1 billion to the economy. The "competitive visa policy" in the U.S. could mean as many as 7.5-million Chinese visitors by 2021, bringing an estimated $85 billion to the economy, a White House statement says.
Ten years is the longest period a visa may be valid under U.S. law. Under current policy, the U.S. issues visas to Chinese citizens that are good for one year only.
The statement says the validity change was made in part because "ease of visa policies" was the second most important decision -- after cost -- on where Chinese travelers decide to go.
A State Department statement Monday says the reciprocal visa deal "will increase travel and exchanges, enhance mutual understanding between our countries, and benefit our economies by increasing the ease of trade and investment."