To obtain a Chinese visa, your passport must be valid for more than six months after the expected expiry date of your visa, with at least one blank visa page. For multiple-entry visas a longer validity period may be required.
If you are planning to stay for an extended period of time it is advisable to register your passport with your embassy. If you loose your passport while in China this will make the process of getting a new one much easier. You will require some form of identification in order to get a new passport. ID cards with you photo may be useful as would an expired passport.
How to Apply?
You should present your passport, a completed visa application form (The People’s Republic of China Visa Application Form) and one recent passport photo (black and white or colour) to your local Chinese embassy. Your travel agent may also be able to help you organize your visa. You should apply for your visa about one month before you intend to leave, although it should only take a week for your visa to be processed. Visas may be obtained more quickly but additional fees may be required. The cost of the visa will depend on your country and the length and type of visa you are applying for. Contact your local Chinese Embassy/Consulate for details.
Types of Visas?
The following are the most common types of visas:
- L Travel/family visit visa (luxing)
- F Business (fangwen)
- D Resident (dingju)
- G Transit (guojing)
- X/F Student (liuxue)
- Z Working (renzhi)
Tourists / family visit (L Visa)
For most tourists a single entry 30 day L Travel visa is appropriate. Depending on the policy of your local embassy you may be able to obtain a 60 day tourist visa if you specify multiple cities to visit. Once you are in China you may extend your visa for a maximum of 90 days (30day extensions). To obtain a tourist visa you may be required to present a travel itinerary, airline tickets, or an invitation from relatives to be visited. Additionally you may be required to provide actual airline tickets showing departure from China. A single entry, or a multiple entry visa can be obtained.
Business / Official visit (F Visa)
In order to obtain a Business visa, you require an official invitation from a Chinese government department, Company or organizations that has received authorization from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only an official invitation accompanied by a letter from the company will suffice. An invitation that has not received the official “stamp” will not be accepted. You may apply for a single, double or multiple entry visa.
Resident (D Visa)
Applicants for resident visas must apply for residency by themselves or through their relatives in China. The application for residency should be made to the local Entry and Exit Administration division of the public Security Department in China, so if you are applying by yourself you will probably have to travel to China to complete the application. The process is quite complicated and lengthy, so if you are not completely familiar with China and the language, you would be well advised to gain the assistance of a local Chinese person.
Transit (G Visa)
A valid visa for the country of destination or an invitation, and an airline ticket/travel itinerary showing transit through China is required.
Student (X / F Visa)
Along with the visa application, you must provide an approved JW201 or JW202 (Foreign Student Visa Application Form) issued by the State Education Ministry of China, and an enrollment letter from the receiving university. An F visa will be issued for those who study for less than 6 months, and X visa for those who study in China for longer than 6 months. Only single entry study visas are available.
Working / Employment (Z visa)
Obtaining a work visa is quite a detailed process requiring approval from a number of Chinese authorities. Your employer in China should visit the Labour Office to obtain appropriate application forms and instructions. It may take several weeks to get all the forms signed and sealed. An official invitation from the government will be issued which must be taken to a Chinese embassy/visa office in a foreign country in order to obtain a working visa. Once you arrive in China you will be required to register with several government agencies and the police department to obtain the official working and residence permit. You may then continue working almost indefinitely given you have a contract with the company and regularly extend the relevant documents. Note: For foreigners staying in China longer than one year must also submit a notarized health certificate as part of the working visa application. This can be obtained within China or obtained overseas and notarized. Details of the requirements can be obtained by contacting the local Chinese Labour Office.
How to Extend Your Visa?
Theoretically you should be able to get an extension by simply visiting the Public Security office in any Chinese town, and filling out a visa extension form. However, Chinese visa officers can be remarkably pragmatic. Depending on your luck it may simply involve filling out a visa extension application form, or they may demand some sort of “evidence” to support your application. This may include a plane/train ticket, or a letter from a Chinese friend/company. Some Public Security (Police) departments will require a letter explaining the reason for your wish to extend the visa. You may have to gain the help of a Chinese friend to write a letter explaining the reasons for you extended stay in China. The process of applying for and extending visas is becoming a lot easier, but depending on where you go it can still be a confusing and frustrating experience. Please note that a tourist visa is only extendable up to a maximum of 90days, after which you must leave the country.
The above information is only a guide. Please contact your local Chinese Embassy or us for more details.