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                      Home Legal Related Visas for Foreigners in China
                      Visas for Foreigners in China
                      Legal Related

                      Chinese visa is a permit issued to a foreigner by the Chinese visa authorities for entry into, exit from or transit through the Chinese territory. The Chinese visa authorities may issue a diplomatic, courtesy, service or ordinary visa to a foreigner according to his identity, purpose of visit to China and passport type.

                      The first thing you need to organize for making your move to China is to get a visa. Unless you only need a tourist visa, you should leave plenty of time for gathering all the documents you require. Two months is a safe bet, although the process can take longer.

                      Typically the Chinese embassy will take a week to process your visa application providing all documents are satisfactory and there are no further questions. However be aware that Chinese visas are only valid for entry within 3 months of their issue date, therefore although it is necessary to leave sufficient time to obtain your visa it is also important not to get your visa too far in advance either.

                      Types of visas

                      Chinese visas are classified according to the purpose of your stay in China For a long-term stay in China, you need documentation from an organization, which is necessary to prove to authorities that you will not be staying in China longer than your visa allows.
                      • L – Luxing (Travel): L visas are tourist visas that typically allow you to stay in the country for 30 days, although longer requests may be granted. You can also get a multiple-entry L visa, but this is more difficult to obtain.
                      • F – Fangwen (Visit): F visas are for short-term studies or business visits. To obtain an F visa, you need an invitation from a Chinese institution or host company. Most F visas are only valid for stays up to 6 months, however there are also longer-running F visas and multiple-entry F visas available.
                      • Z – renZhi (Job/Post): Z visas are issued to those who come to China for employment. To obtain a Z visa, you need a letter of invitation from your employer and a work permit or foreign expert licence obtained by the company you will be working for.
                      • X – liuXue (Long-term study): X visas are issued to long-term students and interns staying in China for more than 6 months. They require an enrolment letter and an application form from a Chinese school or a Chinese company.
                      • D – Dingju (Residence): D visas are residence visas for stays of up to 10 years and are issued to those expecting to permanently reside in China. D visas are extremely difficult to obtain and are normally only rewarded to those who have already lived in China for some time and have made significant contributions to the country. To obtain a D visa, you must first get a permit from a local government in China. You will also have to submit a considerable amount of paperwork and amongst it a physical exam certificate.
                      • J – Jizhe (Reporter): J visas are issued to foreign journalists and are available in short-term (J-2) and long term (J-1) versions. They require a letter from both an employer and from the Foreign Affairs Office. Engaging in any journalistic activities without a J visa may result in being sent to prison.
                      • G – (Transfer): G visas are transfer visas and only allow you to pass through a Chinese airport on your route to another country. 
                      Applying for a Chinese visa

                      Visa applications must be submitted to your nearest local Chinese embassy or consulate. You will need some or all of the following documentation for your visa application:
                      • A passport with at least 6 months validity
                      • A formal application form
                      • A passport photo
                      • A letter of invitation from your host institution or company
                      • A medical examination certificate
                      The exact documentation depends on the type of visa you apply for; check beforehand what you need as exact requirements are subject to constant change. Besides your documents, you will also have to pay a fee for your visa application, which will be dependent on the type of visa you apply for.

                      Visa Renewal

                      If you enter into China on a tourist (L) visa, a business (F) visa or a work (Z) visa, and want to stay in China for longer than the stay time limit or validity period specified on the current visa, you can apply for the newel of your visa at the Ministry of Public Security and its affiliates at the provincial or city level, these affiliates are collectively known as Public Security Bureaus (PSB). There are some types of renewals you can choose, also there are some restrictions you may need to know when you apply for the visa renewals.


                      Renewal of L visa

                      Renewal of F visa

                      Renewal of Z visa

                      Type of renewals

                      ? 30 days with zero entry
                      ? 30 days with single entry
                      ? 6 / 12 month with 0/1/2/M entry(restrictions applied)

                      ? 30-90 days with 0/1/2 entries
                      ? 6 month with multiple entries
                      ? 12 month with multiple entries

                      One year multiple entry

                      Documents required

                      ? Passport
                      ? Photo
                      ? Residence registration certificate

                      ? Passport
                      ? Photo
                      ? Residence registration certificate
                      ? Documents from your host in China.

                      ? Passport
                      ? Photo
                      ? Residence registration certificate
                      ? Documents from your work unit in China.

                      Restrictions and Notes

                      ? L visa can be renewed for at most twice at each entry.

                      ? To apply for 6 or 12 month, you need to have a Chinese spouse or natural born Chinese relatives.

                      ? The times of F visa renewal is no limited, but (consecutively) staying in China on F visas can not be more than 365 days at each entry.

                      ? To apply for F visa renewal, you need a host unit in China.

                      ? To renew a Z visa is actually to renew your residence permit. The Z visa is only used to enter into China, then replaced by residence permit.

                      ? To apply for Z visa renewal, you need documents from your work unit in China.

                      Changing visas

                      It is illegal to work in China on an L or F visa, so students or tourists are not permitted to take up employment. If discovered, you will be fired, fined and often deported, so don’t take the risk. However, you can change visa types if you happen to find a job in China. In most provinces, you can switch visa directly at the local PSB (Public Security Bureau). Although some local PSB's may require that you leave the country to obtain a new visa.

                      Family members

                      Spouses and children receive the same type of visa and residence permit as the person who will be employed or studying in China, but they have to fill out an individual application form and pay the application fee. Note that China does not recognize any gay or lesbian unions.

                      Professional visa services for China

                      If you have difficulty obtaining your visa for China, it is possible to hire a professional visa service, many of which are based in Hong Kong. Though expensive, they can sometimes work miracles.

                      China Yellow Pages