Putting a bright face on the future of U.S. ties to China, President Obama announced Monday that the two countries would start issuing visas to each other's citizens valid for up to a decade for entrance only. The White House said it hoped the deal would attract more travelers to the U.S. Officials said it could drive up demand that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S., without sacrificing national security. About 100 million Chinese traveled last year, but less than 2% of those came to the U.S. The actual benefits, however, may be modest. The visa arrangement doesn't increase how long an American can remain in China or vice-versa, but rather how long the visa can be used to enter the country. And the same restrictions remain on who is eligible for a U.S. visa, including a mandatory in-person interview that is a pain for those who don't live near a U.S. embassy.
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