The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
At a Glance
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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an economic forum comprised of several countries across several continents. The agreement affords nationals of APEC member countries, who hold a valid APEC Business Travel Card, the ability to travel visa-free and to have faster immigration clearance in designated ABTC lanes when traveling for ordinary business purposes to participating APEC countries.
The APEC Member States
APEC currently has 21 members and most members have coastlines along the Pacific Ocean. The members are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
Assessing Travel and Visa Obligations
APEC Business Travel Cards allow pre-cleared business travelers visa-free travel for the purpose of conducting ordinary business activities in member countries. The ABTC removes the need to apply for visas or entry permits for participating member countries (excluding the U.S. and Canada) and authorizes multiple entries into participating countries for the duration of the cards validity.
ABTC holders also benefit from faster immigration processing on arrival via special fast-track entry and exit lanes at participating airports.
APEC member economies fully participating in the scheme include Australia, Brunei, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Thailand and Vietnam.
Canada and the U.S. are transitional members of the scheme.
Business travelers with a valid ABTC are only eligible to participate in visa-free travel to APEC countries that are listed on the ABTC. If the business traveler is authorized to enter a country on an ABTC card, the card will explicitly state that country’s code on the card. If the country code is not listed on the card, the traveler is not authorized to enter that particular destination with the ABTC.
How long can I stay in the APEC Region?
The immigration regulations of each APEC country will determine the duration of time foreign nationals are allowed to remain in country. ABTC holders who are granted pre-clearance will be able to enter and undertake legitimate business activities in participating countries for a minimum of two months. The maximum period of stay granted to a cardholder is three months.
Working under APEC
The member states of the APEC region remain sovereign and the specific rules regarding working in a specific country vary considerably. The ABTC only authorizes visa-free travel for ordinary business purposes and regulations regarding work activities should be reviewed on an individual basis.
Copyright © 2018 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.
Updated Nov. 13, 2018.
At a Glance
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