US: New visa update system for Chinese nationals

Effective November 29, Chinese nationals with a B-1/B-2, B-1 or B-2 visitor visa valid for 10 years will be required to enrol in the new Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before travelling to the United States for business or tourism.

EVUS is a joint program established by new regulations from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the State Department  to maintain current information on U.S. visa holders.  Though Chinese nationals are the first group to be subject to the new requirement, the regulations give CBP broad authority to require additional classes of nonimmigrants to enrol their visas before travel to the United States.

EVUS is expected to be available for early enrolments soon.  Chinese nationals subject to the new requirement must enrol before travelling to the United States on or after November 29.

Who Must Enrol in EVUS?

In the initial phase of EVUS, only those travelling on a passport issued by the People’s Republic of China and a 10-year B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visa will be required to enrol. Those with a Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR or Taiwan passport are not subject to the new requirement. 

After November 28, Chinese nationals travelling on a 10-year visitor visa will not be permitted to board a carrier to the United States or enter at a land port of entry without proof of compliance with EVUS.

When Must Enrolment Take Place?

If you are a Chinese national with a 10-year B-1 or B-2 visa issued before November 29, you must enrol in EVUS by December 14, 2016, or earlier if you plan to travel to the United States before that date.

If you are issued a B-1/B-2 visa on or after November 29, 2016, you must enrol when you receive your visa and before travel to the United States.

After you enrol initially, you must update your enrollment if there is a change in your name or a change to any of your answers to the eligibility questions in the system.

Failure to enrol or re-enrol will result in an automatic provisional revocation of your visa.  The visa may be reinstated once you successfully enrol in the system.

How to Enrol

To enrol, visit www.evus.gov and enter the requested passport, visa and other biographic information.  The system will take up to 72 hours to adjudicate your enrolment, though most enrolments are expected to occur shortly after submission. If enrollment is successful, CBP will issue a notification of compliance valid for two years or until your passport or visa expires, whichever occurs first. Enrolment does not guarantee that you will be admitted to the United States, but will allow you to board a carrier or apply for admission at the U.S. border.

You may complete the process yourself or designate someone to do it for you, but you remain responsible for the truthfulness and accuracy of the information submitted on your behalf.

What This Means for Foreign Nationals

If you are a Chinese national planning business travel to the United States on or after November 29, you must enrol your visa in advance of your travel date to minimise the risk of delays.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK