New requirements will soon apply to Chinese nationals holding B-1 temporary business visitor visas, B-2 tourist visas, or 10-year B-1/B-2 visas before traveling to the United States.
Beginning in November of 2016, travelers holding People’s Republic of China (PRC) passports with B-1, B-2, or 10-year B-1/B-2 visas will have to enroll in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) in order to be admitted into the United States. While the visas remain valid without enrollment, travel to the United States will be delayed until the traveler has complied with the new EVUS enrollment prerequisite.
The EVUS requirement arises from a November 2014 reciprocal arrangement between the United States and China whereby the two governments agreed to issue 10-year visitor and business travel visas and require periodic online updates to the travelers’ visa information. EVUS was established to provide travelers with an online forum to facilitate compliance with the update requirement.
EVUS will affect both current visa holders and new applicants. Applicants for new B-1, B-2, or 10-year B-1/B-2 visas after November 2016 will be required to enroll in EVUS prior to using their visas to enter the United States. Similarly, Chinese nationals already in possession of B-1, B-2, or 10-year B-1/B-2 visas will be required to update their biographical information using EVUS prior to traveling to the United States after November 2016. To avoid delays, travelers must have valid EVUS enrollment prior to traveling, including before arriving at the airport.
An EVUS information update is referred to as an “enrollment.” A traveler’s enrollment will expire after two years, or on the date the traveler’s visa or passport expires, whichever occurs first. Travelers using EVUS will also incur a nominal fee to enroll in the system, but the amount has not yet been announced by the U.S. Government. EVUS enrollment will require a traveler to update various information including the visa holder’s name, birth date, passport information, biographical information, and employment information. Even if the traveler’s information has not changed, the traveler will still be required to enroll in EVUS and verify that the biographical information in the system is accurate and up-to-date.
The EVUS website is available in both English and Mandarin Chinese, but all answers to EVUS questions must be in English. Chinese nationals may comply with the EVUS requirement by completing the online form on their own or by having friends, relatives, professionals, or third parties submit the required biographical information and fees into the system on their behalf. If information is submitted by someone other than the traveler, the traveler is still responsible for the veracity and accuracy of all the information submitted on his or her behalf.
The EVUS requirement affects only individuals traveling on People’s Republic of China (PCR) passports with B-1, B-2, or 10-year B1/B2 visas, and applies regardless of the traveler’s current residence. Travelers using other travel documents such as Taiwan passports, or passports issued by Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR, will not be subject to the new EVUS requirement and may continue to travel to the United States without enrollment.
Ogltree Deakins will continue to monitor developments with respect to the EVUS program and will provide updates as further information becomes available.
Bernhard Mueller is a shareholder in the Columbia office of Ogletree Deakins.
James N. Garilas is a 2016 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and is currently awaiting admission to the state bar of South Carolina.