China Visa

A Comprehensive Guide for 2018
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Posted by HAOrealty on June 17, 2018
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China’s 72 hour visa –  the 144 hour Chinese visa –  a 10-year China visa –  extending your visa… understanding the Chinese visa process isn’t simple! It’s hard to gather all the data you will need, even more so conveniently in one place. There’s plenty to consider while applying for your visa to China and we would like to walk you through the different processes, so that you will know well in advance what to expect.

Whether you’re going for business, fun, teaching or seeing family, there is no way around a Chinese visa.

Hence, how and where does one get a China visa, how much will it cost, and what sort of visas are there?

This procedure may seem overwhelming and the first step should be to get a full overview of options and requirements.
If you are just here to find the answer to a single questions, you might want to jump straight to the desired section:

I am from [country]. Do I need a visa to visit China?
Where can I get a Chinese visa?
How much time does the China visa process take?
How much does a Chinese visa cost?
Which visa category is suitable for my situation?
Can I extend my visa? How?
What is the 10-year visa?

I am from [country]. Do I need a visa to visit China?

Most likely: yes. Most non-Chinese people need a visa to visit the Middle Kingdom, although there are a exceptions. You might not need a visa if:

  • You are simply going/transfering through China on your way to another country and and you will not be in the country for more than 24 hours. If this applies to you, you should stay in your area of transit (probably airport, train station, or port). Without a visa you are not allowed to leave the transit zone!
  • You are remaining in one of the fifteen cities that have a visa on arrival policey which enables travelers to remain for 72 or 144 hours (varies by city – conduct research regarding the current regulation beforehand) on their way to another country. These 15 cities will allow you to travel around the city without a visa, however there are significant results in the event that you overstay the 72 or 144 hour limit.
These 15 cities are: Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guilin, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Shanghai, Sheyang, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, and Xi’an.  
  • You are from Brunei, Singapore, or Japan and plan to conduct business, to visit family members, or to travel for under 15 days. It is recommended to contact your consulate or the Chinese one in your home country beforehand.
  • You are heading out to Hainan with a tour group of at least five individuals and plan to remain for less than 15 days.

 

Where Can I get a Chinese Visa?

Where and how you apply for a Chinese visa changes based upon where you live. In nations, for example, Denmark, Canada, and the United Kingdom, one can apply for a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center or CVASC. If you live in the United States, you should apply at the Chinese Consular Office responsible for your state.
Applications should be sent to the CVASC or Chinese Consular Office. On the off chance that it is not possible to hand-convey your application yourself, you may have somebody convey it on your behalf, for example a friend or relative, a visa agency, or a travel agency.
Additionally, it’s note-worthy that the consulate can require either an invitation letter from a business/organization or verification of round-trip flights and hotel bookings with a coherent with your travel plans as indicated on your visa application form.

How much time does the China visa process take?

Usually it takes around 4 business days to process an application given that you have the correct documents. A passport that has at least half a year validity remaining and two blank pages is required, as well as a passport-sized picture (more requirements regarding the picture can usually be found on the consulate application service center’s website).
In some countries and for some nationalities, an option exist to order express service for an additional fee, and to have your visa ready within 1 to 3 days.

How much does a Chinese visa cost?

Fees can fluctuate between service center location, your nationality, and the number of entries you need. Usually you pay somewhere in the range of US$30 to US$140.
Nationals from a small number of countries, e.g. Albania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria won’t be charged anything, however if you are from the United States or United Kingdom, you will most likely pay the highest rate (since these countries themselves charge Chinese nationals a very high fee for their visas).

Which visa category is suitable for my situation?

There are currently 11 different Chinese visas categories, some with subcategories for stay durations longer than 180 days. Which one you pick fully depends upon your reasons for coming to China. When applying for any visa it is critical to have a completed application form with a suitable photograph and a passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity remaining. Recorded here are the diverse kinds of visas and the necessities for getting them.

L: Tourist Visa

The Chinese L Visa is the most common visa and the one that tourists and travelers will get.
If you are intending to travel or visit family in China for a short period you will get a tourist visa. This is the typical visa that an individual can apply for without assistance from a business, school, or government office.
In case that you will go with a travel group, the agency may acquire a L Visa for the whole group instead of everybody having their own individual visas. For this situation, you will handover your data to the travel agencyand they will deal with the paperwork for you.
If you are traveling alone, you will have to give your travel to the consular office. If you are not staying with a person who is legally residing in China (family member on work visa, Chinese friend, etc.) you will need to produce photocopies of airplane or train tickets and hotel reservations. If you stay at the home of China resident, be it a foreigner or Chinese, you’ll need a signed invitation letter incl. their address from them along with passport or ID copy.
The Single Entry Tourist Visa is the most common among visitors and allows you to stay 30 days (not 1 month – count the days!) in China. Single entry means after leaving you will need a new visa before entering again, no matter how short your first stay was! If your travel plans require, you can also apply for a Double Entry Tourist Visa which gives you 60 days in total, with 2 entries and each stay for not more than 30 days.

F & M: China Business Visas

The F visa is for people who are invited to China for examinations, non-business trades, education, science related endeavors, and health reasons.
You will need an invitation letter from a business or education organization to acquire this Chinese visa.
The M visa is for persons who enter China for business. This visa does not enable you to work or be employed in China, which many foreigners assume. Even for short-term work you have to apply for a work permit and a Z visa. The M visa only enables you to conduct business activities like attending trade fairs, or negotiating contracts. This visa requires an invitation from a Chinese association or organization.

X: Student Visa

There are two distinct kinds of study visas, X1 and X2. X1 enables students to stay in China for longer than a half year while X2 just allows a student to stay for half a year or less.
The two visas enable students to study or to perform study-related fieldwork in China. The association you are working with will send you a JW202 or JW201 form and a letter of admission. X visas don’t allow you to work in China unless the university has approved the work and the hours worked are low.

Z: Work Visa

If it’s your plan to work in China and to get paid, you need a Work Visa. It’s vital that the organization you are wanting to work with is authorized to employ foreign specialists and that you meet certain requirements that qualify you as a specialist in your field of work.
Keep in mind: It is in fact illicit to work for pay in China without a work visa and you can get deported for doing so.
Your Chinese employer has to send you the correct documents, such as a Visa Notification Letter and Employee Permit. The visa you get allows you to enter China and stay for 30 days. During this period you will have to go through the immigration process with the goal to finalize your work and long-term residence permit.

S & Q: Private Visits and Family Reunion Visas

The S visa or Private Visit Visa is relatively new and allows family members to visit relatives who are working or going to school in China. Siblings, spouses, in-laws, children, parents, and grandparents can make use of this new visa.
Two different types of S visas exist: the S1 and S2. S1 permits family members to stay for more than 6 months while S2 is for shorter stays. If you are planning to stay for longer than 6 months you will need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit shortly after you arrive.
The Q visa or Family Reunion Visa is for those wishing to visit family members who reside in China for a long period of time. The Q visa is for foreigners who have relatives who are Chinese citizens or have permanent residency. This visa can also be used for individuals who are planning to participate in foster care or adoption.
The length of this visa can range from 30 days to 180 days although you will have to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit if you wish to stay longer than 30 days.

D: China Resident Visas

Resident Visas are extremely hard to get. To apply for this visa you need to have lived in China for at least 5 years and contributed significantly cultureally or economically.

J: Journalist Visas

There are 2 types of Journalist Visas, J1 and J2. J1 is for journalists who will be spending a substantial amount of time in China while J2 is shorter term. It’s a long process to get this visa which requires you to have a personalized invitation from the Chinese media and if you plan on bringing your own camera equipment, you can expect to jump over multiple hurdles.

 

Can I extend my visa? How?

If you wish to change visas in China (for example, from a tourist visa to a work/student visa) you can do so without leaving the country but it will need to be done well before the expiration of your current visa. You will need to apply for this at the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Administration Office or PSB.
When applying to extend your current visa – for example if you want to add another 30 days to your tourist visa – you will be required to supply a number of documents including a Health Certificate that was issued to you by HK hospitals, the China Entry-Exit Inspection, or the Quarantine Bureau. Tourist visas cannot be extended more than 30 days without leaving the country.

What is the 10-year visa?

The 10 year visa is new as of 2014. Those with a U.S. passport are now able to obtain a 10 year visa for both tourism (L) and business (M). This visa allows you to enter and leave China as many times as you want within the 10 year period. If you wish to apply for this visa, you need to have no less than one year validity on your passport. For those who don’t have a year remaining, you will be given a Chinese visa that is good for 1 year or less.
Once you have obtained the visa you are able to renew your passport if needed with no issues. While most people who apply for this visa will be able to get it with no difficulties, the Chinese Consulate has the ultimate say in who gets it and the exact length of time the visa is good for.
The process of applying for and obtaining a Chinese Visa can be challenging and time consuming but knowing the necessary information can ease stress and help the process along.
You can learn more about the China 10-year visa here, but we recommend applying for it even if you don’t have any intention of returning to China. It’s the same cost and it could come in handy years down the road if you unexpectedly find reason to return.

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