U.S. to shorten length of visas for some Chinese citizens: White House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - The U.S. government plans to shorten the length of visas issued to some Chinese citizens as part of a strategy to prevent intellectual property theft by U.S. rivals, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Chinese tourists take photographs outside of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

The U.S. State Department will implement measures from June 11 to “enhance security for some Chinese visa applicants,” the official said.

The change would come as President Donald Trump’s administration attempts to crack down on what it says is theft of U.S. intellectual property by China.

“Going forward, a reduction in validity of some newly issued visas is part of the National Security Strategy to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors,” the official said, referring to a document issued by the Trump administration in December.

The document said officials would consider restrictions on visas for science and technology students from some countries to ensure “intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors.”

A State Department official said the visa application process had not changed but that consular officers may limit the validity of visas for some Chinese applicants on a case-by-case basis.

The Associated Press, which first reported the new policy, quoted a U.S. official as saying Chinese graduate students would be limited to one-year visas if they are studying in certain fields, such as robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing.

Those are areas Beijing has said are high-priority goals for its manufacturing sector.

According to AP, the official said the instructions also stated that Chinese citizens seeking visas would need special clearance from multiple U.S. agencies if they work as researchers or managers for companies on a U.S. Commerce Department list of entities needing higher scrutiny. Those clearances are expected to take months for each application, AP cited the official as saying.

Earlier on Tuesday, Washington said it was still considering slapping 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods in retaliation for what the Trump administration says are China’s unfair trade practices.

Reporting by Jeff Mason in Nashville, Tenn.; Additional reporting by Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney