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For two years or so UK citizens have been eligible for 2-, 5-, and 10-year visas to China. However, despite knowing a number of people who travel to China regularly, I know no one who has received a 5-year or 10-year visa. In fact, the form to submit at the visa centre doesn't even have an option to request a 5-year or 10-year visa.

The Chinese embassy says this:

"As of Monday, 11 January 2016, in line with the reciprocal visa arrangement between China and the UK, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the UK will issue two-year multi-entry visas to eligible British nationals who intend to go to China for commercial/trade activities, as a tourist and to visit family members/relatives. Five-year and ten-year visas will be issued to eligible British nationals."

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/gdxw/t1330627.htm

How does a British national become eligible for a 5-year or 10-year visa?

  • Perhaps sending an email or contacting the Chinese embassy will be your best option for an accurate answer. – cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer Aug 14 '18 at 8:02
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    In France you can get up to 4 years, but you have to qualify for it: double-entry, one year, two years, and finally four years. It could be that they applied a similar system in the UK. In which case, it could be normal that you don't know anyone (yet) with a 5-year or 10-year visa, as nobody has had the time yet to qualify. – user67108 Aug 14 '18 at 8:12
  • @MusoniusRufus I will be able to get an answer when I visit the visa centre and if nobody else has given an answer by then I will post it. I post the question because I think it is good to have an easily accessible sourced answer online; I know other people have this question. (Also, to find the answer one must go through the visa process; asking at reception at the visa centre is useless, I've tried.) – James Hill Aug 14 '18 at 8:26
  • Take a look at this visa service FAQs. It's a US-based company, but should be the same for UK; official sites don't seem to offer any explanation. And it's not clear whether going through a visa service makes a difference (or just easier). – Giorgio Aug 15 '18 at 14:26
  • @Giorgio Thanks, I can't know if the rules are the same; UK and China signed an agreement 2 years ago which define the current rules. The visa services are not easier if you can get to the visa centre yourself; I work 10 minutes walk away so no problem for me. If you live in a different city it'll be useful (although some people now have to visit the centre anyway for fingerprinting). However, the visa services can be used to obtain visa quickly if the visa centre is booked up and you can't get book a time slot to go in person within the time frame you need. – James Hill Aug 17 '18 at 12:08
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I have spoken to an assistant who accepts visa application forms at a UK Chinese visa centre. She said that the eligibility for 5 and 10 year visas is thus:

  • Visas available are 2, 5, and 10 year multiple entry.
  • After receiving 2 year visa twice, you become eligible for 5 years.
  • After 5 years you become eligible for 10 years.

This visa structure only came into place approximately 2 and a half years ago; I believe early 2016. So nobody (except in some unusual circumstances) will have come to the end of their second 2 year visa yet; so the 5 and 10 visas are still rarely granted.

I submit this as answer because I have been unable to find written confirmation of this; I will not accept it as final answer because I still hope somebody may be able to link to an authoritative source.

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