Israel and China signed a ten-year multiple entry visa agreement, making Israel the third country, after the United States and Canada, to have such an arrangement with China. The agreement was ratified by the Israeli parliament (Knesset) earlier this week.
What are the terms of the new agreement?
Until recently, both Israeli and Chinese tourists and business visitors were required to obtain a single-entry visa which only lasted the length of the visitor's stay in the country.
Under the new visa program, Chinese business travelers and tourists will be allowed to enter Israel multiple times with the same visa, which will be valid for ten years. The same will apply for Israeli citizens visiting China.
The duration of visits in Israel will be limited to three months at a time, subject to the discretion of the border authorities.
This new ten-year multiple entry visa does not allow any work to be done in Israel. Senior officials at the Ministry of Interior have clarified upon announcement of the new agreement, that any unauthorized employment under this visitor visa, regardless of the duration of the work and place of salary payment, constitutes a criminal offence.
Applications will have to be submitted at the relevant consulates. Regulation regarding the visa processing at the consulates are expected to be published soon by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This new visa agreement is expected to facilitate travel between China and Israel, encourage Chinese business travelers and tourists to visit Israel, and save time and money. According to official statistics, 70,000 Israeli nationals visit China every year, compared to 33,000 Chinese nationals who visit Israel.
The state of Israel has five diplomatic missions in China: The Israeli Embassy in Beijing, the Consulate General in Shanghai, and consulates in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.