A busy day for immigration officials at the Shanghai exit-entry bureau
After COVID-19 was downgraded to Category B, residents in Shanghai can now renew and apply for passports and other exit-entry papers.
Around 10am on Monday, the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau's waiting hall was packed with people who had made online appointments.
"I made a reservation on Friday," said a woman surnamed Xu. "My passport has expired for more than two years; I'd like to renew it today because my husband and I are planning a trip to Japan in the spring."
According to the bureau, exit and entry services such as passport applications and permits to enter Macau and Hong Kong for travel purposes have gradually resumed since Monday, the first working day after the National Immigration Administration announced the relaxation of immigration control measures.
The bureau has improved the application procedure and expanded manpower to deal with the application and reservation influx.
"We have set a limit for reservation according to our maximum capacity," said Shen Qiang, an official with the bureau.
"The first day is fully booked. We will release the reservation quota based on the demand."
Currently, around 150 windows in the 20 exit-entry offices are open in the city.
All online reservation channels, such as the Suishenban app, the NIA app, as well as the mini-programs on WeChat, are available for services.
"I took my daughter to renew her passport," said a woman surnamed Guo.
"I learned about relaxed controls for travel a few days ago. So I brought my daughter here today," she said.
Guo and her family intend to visit Thailand over the upcoming weeklong Spring Festival break, which begins on January 21.
Visa and resident permit services for expats are also in place, including the extension, renewal and re-issuance of documents.
"As of now, the volume of foreigners' applications and reservations has been stable," said Wan Yi, deputy director with the visa department, adding there are no big fluctuations in recent days.
Wang reminded that expats need to make online reservations in advance and hand in documents to the designated window according to their booked time.
"We anticipate a peak later this year as more foreigners arrive in China and require more immigration services," Wang said.
Navin Alwani, an Indian businessman who has worked in Shanghai for 21 years, was one of a dozen foreigners in the visa section on the third floor of the agency.
"I'm here today for some information," Alwani said. "Relaxed COVID-19 restrictions will benefit cross-border tourism and businesses, so that more people can come to China in the future."