Beginning November 29 nationals of the People’s Republic of China holding 10-year B visas will not be able to travel to the United States without a valid Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) enrollment. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has designated November 29 as the implementation date for the EVUS. The newly-created EVUS enrollment requirement is mandatory for People’s Republic of China passport holders who seek admission to the United States pursuant to 10-year, B-1 (business visitor), or B-2 (visitor for pleasure) visas. Enrollment, where required, must occur prior to commencing travel. Failure to register will result in denial of boarding or denial of entry by land. Thus, the initial implementation of the EVUS requirement has the potential to create significant disruption in China-US travel for the unprepared.
The EVUS requirement arises from a November 2014 reciprocal visa validity agreement between the United States and China. Under this reciprocal agreement, the maximum B-1 or B-2 visa validity for Chinese nationals increased from one to 10 years. Visas in these categories are often issued as combined B-1/B-2 visa. Under the terms of this agreement, Chinese nationals must update their biographic information periodically in order to utilize the B-1/B-2 visas for US travel during the ten-year validity period. EVUS enrollments will be valid for up to two years, but will not exceed the validity of the visa or passport.
Biographic and Employment Information Required
As of this writing, EVUS registration has not commenced nor has CBP publically released the EVUS enrollment questionnaire. CBP characterizes the enrollment as requiring biographical and employment information, similar to what is required in the form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. CPB targets a mid-October time frame for opening EVUS enrollment. The enrollment fee will be $8.
Who Must Enroll?
There are two simple parameters, both of which must be met, which mandate EVUS enrollment.
- First, the EVUS requirement applies to individuals traveling on a passport issued by the People’s Republic of China. There are no exceptions. The passport governs, regardless of the individual’s current country of residence or country of origin.
- Second, the requirement applies to holders of 10-year, B-1/B-2 visas. Chinese passport holders seeking to enter the United States with visas in any category other than B-1/B-2 do not have to enroll in EVUS. Additionally, Chinese passport holders who hold B-1/B-2 visas issued with a one-year validity do not have to enroll.
Travel and Business Implications: Impacted Travelers Must Enroll Prior to Departure to US
At this time, over 3.9 million Chinese nationals hold 10-year multiple entry B-1/B-2 visas. Businesses that depend upon these individuals and their ability to travel to the United States should be proactive in identifying those who need to enroll in EVUS and facilitating enrollment. Enrollment is required prior to departure, even where the itinerary includes multiple flights. Enrollment will be verified at check-in for the first flight in the trip, and, absent EVUS enrollment, boarding will be denied. As with any technology-based, system, there is a possibility of delay and technical malfunction, particularly at the outset. Thus, the EVUS requirement needs to be considered when timing US travel.