In the latest step to open exchange and travel between China and countries in the Americas, China and Canada have reached a reciprocal agreement to provide 10-year, multiple-entry visas for citizens traveling between the two countries.

The visas will increase business, tourism and travel between the two countries, as well as benefiting students, faculty and educational institutions. They went into effect on March 9.

Universities and prospective students are already eyeing the new opportunities the visa will offer for study, exchange and research abroad, as well as collaboration between academics in the two nations.

“It’s a great step forward and will make it much easier for international education professionals, faculty and students from Canada to travel to China,” Jennifer Humphries, vice president for membership, public policy and communications at the Canadian Bureau for Education, told The Pie News.

“Most likely it will increase the frequency of visits because Canadians will no longer need to go through processes and fee payments on a regular basis,” she added. “I would imagine that the change will lend impetus to collaborative academic projects and enhance the attractiveness of bilateral study and research exchange.”

Chinese ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui praised the new visa rules in an op-ed in the Globe and Mail newspaper, highlighting the various ways it would benefit Chinese and Canadian students, travelers and tourists.

“This arrangement will further promote people-to-people exchanges,” wrote Luo, citing the 230,000 visas China issued to Canadian citizens in 2014, with 80 percent of them for business purposes, tourism and family visits.

He also pointed out the benefits for Chinese students, the largest group of international students in Canada, with more than 32 percent of all international students as of 2013. Luo said the more than 100,000 students currently enrolled in academic institutions in Canada as well as the 1.5 million Chinese living there were “eagerly looking forward to receiving long-term and multiple-entry visas”.

Canadian organizations also applauded the development. Stewart Beck, President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said in an official statement that the arrangement would “help build Canada’s bridges with Asia.”

According to Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, more than 2,000 people travel back and forth between the two countries every day.

The Canada agreement comes just a few months after a similar policy was implemented with the United States, extending short-term and tourism visas to a maximum of 10 years and allowing the expedition of student and exchange visas for up to five years for Chinese and US citizens traveling between the two countries.

Travel and business agreements have been increasing in recent years, with Western governments and companies aiming to increase trade with China. Chinese students account for the largest populations of international students in English-speaking countries like Canada and the United States, and Chinese tourists spend billions of dollars on international travel each year. 

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