A group of Republican senators led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), introduced legislation on Feb. 25 to revoke Chinese nationals’ access to 10-year multiple-entry visas, a policy they argued has allowed free and unchecked entry of Chinese who caused enormous national security risks.

The 10-year visa program, first implemented in 2014 during the Obama administration, grants citizens who benefit from it an unlimited number of visits as long as the permit remains in effect. 

Republican Sens. Cotton, Rick Scott of Florida, Marsha Blackburn Tennessee, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida, introduced the Visa Security Act, seeking to end the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unrestricted access to this type of visa. Cotton advocated for a similar provision in his recently released report, Beat China: Targeted Decoupling and the Economic Long War.

The bill calls for the U.S. government to revoke the privilege and revert to the previous one-year visa unless the CCP ceases its “malign activities,” its military provocation toward Taiwan; oppression of Hong Kongers, Uighur Muslims, Tibetans, and hostage-taking of foreign nationals. The legislation does not apply to Taiwan or certain Hong Kong residents.

“Until the Chinese Communist Party ends its systematic violations of human rights and religious freedom, the United States cannot remain complicit by offering 10-year multi-entry visas to Chinese nationals,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn went on to argue that only by implementing an act such as the one proposed will it stop the revolving door that the CCP has used for so many years, while also demanding accountability in the global human rights effort.

As the senators themselves argued, the CCP has taken advantage of the preferential visa policy for its own benefit by sending agents who conducted espionage work against the United States.

“Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party has had access to 10-year business and tourist visas, which allow Chinese citizens to enter and exit the United States as they please. In issuing these visas, the U.S. has welcomed the CCP, its intelligence agencies, and those they have coopted with open arms. This was a bad decision in 2014 and it’s time we fixed this error,” Cotton said in a statement.

The Justice Department has prosecuted dozens of people linked to China. In 2020 alone, prosecutors identified six people who hid their Chinese military ties to study in the United States. Arrests of undercover Chinese military officers led to more than 1,000 such researchers to leave the United States, a senior Justice Department official said in December last year.