1. China Tourist Visa (L)
The tourist (L) and transit (G) visas are the only ones that you can apply for without assistance from a business, government or academic institution.
Most visitors to China will only require a tourist L which will allow them to travel freely in most parts of China as tourists. If your situation is not described by one of the other visa types, then this should be the one you need.
How to Apply
You can come to the Chinese Embassies, Consulates and other Chinese diplomatic missions to submit application in person; if you can’t come personally, you can entrust someone else, a travel agency or a visa agency to act on your behalf. No appointment is required. Applications by mailing are not acceptable and will be refused at most of Chinese embassies or consulates.
It regularly takes 4 working days for processing. For express service, additional fees of US$ 20 will be charged for second or third working day releasing. For rush service, additional fees of US$30 will be charged for the same working day releasing.
The fees vary enormously depending on your nationality and number of entries. However, according to the Visa Fee Abolition Agreement, the nationals of following seven countries are free of the fees, but they need pay for the express service, rush service or mail service: Pakistan, Maldives, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia and Micronesia. Application by mail is not accepted by most Chinese embassies or consulates, but in countries with the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC), applicants may be able to apply by post, or submit applications based on online appointment via CVASC’s website.
2. China Business Visa (F/M)
The required documentation to support your application differs according to the visa you are seeking. Here we explain some of the requirements though it is not your responsibility to organize all of them, the organisation you will be dealing with will need to arrange the ones special to your visa type, except for tourist visas, of course. Naturally, you should assist where required by providing information. Preparing the documents can take some time, from a couple of weeks to months, as many bureaucratic procedures are involved. It is a good idea, however, to keep checking back with them that they are getting on with it as sometimes matters can slip.
Non-business Exchanges and Visits (F Visa)
F is issued to foreigners invited to China on a noncommercial exchange, investigation or visits for scientific-technological, education, cultural exchanges, health or sports activities. In some situations overseas businessmen with a need to travel frequently in and out of China over a longer period may be granted a 12 month multiple entry F.
The F type has over the years been used as a ‘catch all’ option. Consular offices seem to have been willing to issue them relatively easily and often for longer durations than a tourist L. It is not permitted to work as an employee of a Chinese business in China while on an F (there are a few exceptions such as working for a company funded from overseas), but many people have done so, often with the full knowledge of local officials, but on the other hand some people have been expelled!
Business or Trade Purposes (M visa)
M is a new business visa category from 1st Sept 2013, which is issued to foreigners coming for commercial and trade activities.
How to Apply
You can submit your application to the consular office of Chinese embassies or consulates by yourself, or ask someone else (such as your friends, relatives) or entrust an agency to do so on your behalf. The power of attorney is not required.
It regularly takes 4 working days for processing the application. However, the express service and rush service are also available if you want to pick up your visa earlier. Extra US$ 30 for the same-day collection; and additional US$20 for the second or third day collection.
The fees vary according to your nationality and number of entries. Generally speaking, the fee is higher if the number of entries is more.
3. China Student Visa (X)
Student Visa is divided into X1 and X2. X1 is issued to aliens who come to China for study, advanced studies, or fieldwork for more than 6 months. X2 is issued to aliens who come to China with same purpose but for a period of less than 6 months.
The organization must be accredited for offering courses or internships to foreigners. They will send you a JW201 or JW202 form and an admission letter. Submit these with photocopies with your application.
You are not permitted to work on the X type visa. But part-time work and internships off campus may be authorized in near future. You should contact you university or employer after you have settled in to see what can be arranged. For foreign students who work in violation of the regulations on the administration of foreign students working to support their study in China and work beyond the prescribed scope of jobs or prescribed time limit, they shall be deemed unlawful employment and will probably have to stop or be expelled.
How to Apply
1. You may submit the application to the consular office of the Chinese Embassies or Consulates in person.
2. Or you can entrust someone else (e.g. friends, relatives), a travel agency or a visa agency to act on your behalf if you can’t come personally. Power of attorney is not required.
3. Mailed applications are not accepted and will be refused by most of Chinese embassies or consulates.
4. Appointment is not required by most embassies and consulates. But if you are required to submit application to CVASC, you may need to make an online appointment via CVASC’s website.
The regular processing time is 4 working days. If you want to collect your visa earlier, the express service and rush service are available. Express Service: 2-3 working days processing; extra US$ 20 will be charged. Rush Service (for emergencies): 1 working day processing; extra US$ 30 will be charged.
The fee for X is same to the fee for other types of Chinese visa. Generally speaking, Chinese embassies or consulates only issue single entry X to foreigners. If you apply for it in the United States of America, the fee is US$140 for American citizens, US$30 for other citizens.
4. China Work Visa (Z)
A work visa is required for persons wanting to work in China for pay. It is also issued to aliens who come to China for commercial entertainment performance. It is only granted if you and the employer meet certain requirements. First, the organisation must be accredited to employ foreigners. You must meet the requirements as a ‘foreign expert’ and the employer must obtain a certificate stating that you comply. The most common employment is teaching English for which the minimum qualifications are stated as having English as a first language and having at least a Bachelors degree and two year teaching experience. The age limit for male applicants is 18 – 60, and 18 – 55 for female applicants. However, there is some flexibility in these requirements so if you can find a willing employer they still have a chance of obtaining approvals for you.
The employer will send you a government issued Employment Permit and Visa Notification Letter which you must submit with a photocopies with your application. Accompanying family members should apply for new S1 or S2 visa submitting invitation letter from the relative with work Z in China and a ‘proof of relationship’ i.e. their marriage certificate for a spouse, or birth certificate for a child.
This Z is valid for only 30 days from the date of arrival during which time you and your employer must seek aTemporary Residence Permit for the duration of your contract, to the minimum of 90 days and the maximum of 5 years.
How to Apply
You can go to the Chinese embassy, consulates or other diplomatic missions in person for application. You can also entrust your friends, a travel agency or visa agency to act on your behalf. There is no need to make an appointment. Mailed applications are not acceptable.
It usually takes 4 working days for processing. For example, you submit application on Monday and then you can pick up your visa on Thursday. Additional US$ 30 is charged for 1 working day processing, and US$ 20 for 2-3 working day processing.
The fee is as same as the fee for other types of Chinese visa. Generally speaking, Chinese embassy or consulate only issue single entry Z to aliens. If you apply for it in the United States of America, US$140 for American citizens, US$30 for other citizens.
5. China Talent Visa (R)
Under the regulations from September 1 2013, the R Visa is issued to foreign high-level personnel and much-needed highly talented people who need to stay in China. The measure would complement the existing Work Z Visa that allows foreigners to work in China if they have a work permit or employment certificate issued by the competent Chinese authorities. The Chinese government has shown its sincerity towards global talent with this policy and created a friendlier environment for them to work in China.
How to Apply
Applicants should submit applications to the Chinese embassies, consulates or Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) wherever available either in person or by someone else or entrusted travel agent. Appointment is not required. Meanwhile, mail applications are not acceptable by most embassies and consulates. In cases where application by post at CVASC is available, extra service fee will be charged.
The normal processing takes about 4 working days at the Chinese embassies and consulates. Express/Urgent Processing should be approved by the consular officers whenever available and extra fee should be paid accordingly. For applications by post through CVASC, the processing will take about 10 working days with no express service applicable.
The fee charged for R is the same as the fee for other types of Chinese visa. Generally, it varies according to nationalities, and number of entries.
6. Crew, Resident and Journalist Visa
Crew Visa (C)
Persons arriving as crew on international planes, ships or trains and their family members should apply for it. Clearly they should obtain information and complete formalities via their employers.
Resident Visa (D)
In summary, the regulations state that a person who has lived 5 years in China and is a desirable person may obtain permanent residence status. In practice it seems that very few people are able to achieve this status. China is not an immigrant country (like the USA, Canada, Australia) and does not seek foreign permanent residents. Unless you have made massive investments which have generated substantial profit to China and you have good connections with the establishment, it seems you are unlikely to succeed.
Journalist Visa (J-1, J-2)
The long stay J1 is for resident journalists, the short stay, J2, is for those who are visiting for short term assignments. These are rather specialist visas and there are several extra requirements including approvals, invitations from the Chinese media authorities, or itineraries. There are extra requirements if you want to bring filming equipment into China. You will find the full details on the application form.
The J-1 is only for 30 days from the date of arrival during which time you and your local organisation must seek a Temporary Residence Permit for the duration of your contract, to a maximum of 5 years.
How to Apply
The applicant can submit application in person or ask someone else, travel agency to apply on his/her behalf.
The normal processing time is 4 working days. Extra fees will be charged respectively for rush service (collect on the same day) and express service (collect on the second or third working day after submission).
Fees are paid when applicants pick up their visas. The means of payment are different at Chinese Embassies or Consulates in Different Countries and Regions. The fee varies according to applicants’ nationality and the number of entries. The below table is the fee for application in USA
7. China Private Visit Visa (S)
From September 1st 2013, relatives of foreign residents in China have more opportunities to visit their loved ones under new regulations. The S visa is a new visa type issued to family members of foreign professionals and students in China. Spouses, children, brothers, sisters, parents and parents-in-law of foreigners residing in China all qualify for this S visa, which is much more generous than the international standard limited to only spouses and children.
The S visa has two categories S1 and S2. S1 is issued to “Immediate family members” for purposes of entry and long-term family visits to foreigners residing in China for work or study, and to those who intend to go to China for other private matters.
How to Apply
Applicants must submit applications to Chinese embassies or consulates by themselves or someone else or through a trusted travel/visa agency. A personal appearance is necessary only when consular officials require an interview. Mail and mail-back services are not available at most embassies and consulates. However, for applications through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) wherever available (such as Canada, UK, Australia, France, Germany, India, Singapore), applying by post is an option and applicants can also complete the application form online. An online appointment is required for all applications in person.
Regular processing currently takes four working days at Chinese embassies/consulates/ CVASC. However, there may be some changes under the new regulations. According to an announcement from the Chinese embassy in India in mid July, the normal processing may take one to two weeks and they advise the applicant to plan ahead. Excuses such as air ticket booked and confirmed will not be accepted. So please refer to the websites of the relevant consular missions before application.
The fees including application fee and service fee remain unchanged. It mainly differs for nationalities, number of entries and processing time requested.
8. China Family Reunion Visa (Q)
This visa type came along with the promulgation of the Administrative Regulations of the PRC on Entry and Exit of foreigners on July 12, 2013, which was implemented as of September 1, 2013. Overseas Chinese can expect to benefit from the change when they return to China for family reunions. Depending upon the duration of stay and applicants’ classification, the Q visa is further divided into two subclasses: Q1 and Q2.
How to Apply
Applicants should go to the Chinese embassy, consulates or Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) wherever available for application either in person or by someone else or agent entrusted. Most Chinese embassies and consulates do not accept applications by mail. CVASC in some countries/regions provide service for applications by post, but of course an extra service fee will be charged. Besides, please check the website of above diplomatic missions in advance to see if appointment is required.
Normal processing takes about 4 working days. The applicant should apply one month prior to the intended travel. In case Express/Urgent Processing is approved by the Chinese embassy or the consulate-generals, the applicant should pay extra fee accordingly. Note: From July 5, 2012, express service had been suspended for the passport holders of the following countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and France.
The fee is the same as the fee for other types of Chinese visa. Generally, fees vary according to nationalities, and numbers of entry. But for US passport holders, the fee will be charged as US$ 140 regardless of visa types.
9. Transit (G)
Transit visas are for persons who are staying for a short period while in transit between two other countries. You must have residency in the destination country or have a valid visa for it (if required). The fee appears to be the same as for a tourist L, so check whether you might as well get a tourist L instead.
Some airports do not have an international transfer area and you might have to collect your baggage and exit into the main area so you would expect to need a visa. However, in some instances the airport immigration officials will issue you with a 24 hour ‘Stay Permit’. When you make bookings that look like you will not be checked straight through to your final destination, you are advised to ask the airline or the agent, or contact the embassy or consulate to check if a transit visa is required. See also Airline Regulations
Visa Free Transit
- No visa is required for foreigners who hold tickets to the final destination and have booked seats on international airlines, ships, trains transiting directly through China, and will stay for less than 24 hours and do not leave the specified transit area.
- Passport holders of following 51 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours while in transit via Beijing Capital Airport (PEK), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) & Hongqiao International Airport (SHA), Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (CAN), Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU), Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE), Dalian International Airport (DLC), Xian Xianyang International Airport (XIY), Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL), Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG) and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH):
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States. Read 72-hour Visa-free Transit in detail.
How to Apply
- You can personally submit the application to the consular office of the Chinese Embassies, Consulates and other Chinese diplomatic missions which hold consular jurisdiction over your residence.
- Or you can entrust someone else, a travel agency or a visa agency to act on your behalf if you can’t come in person. Power of attorney is not required.
- Mailed applications are not accepted by most of Chinese embassies or consulates in overseas.
- No appointment is required.
- The regular processing time is 4 working days.
- Express Service: 2-3 working days processing; US$ 20 will be charged.
- Rush Service: 1 working day processing; US$ 30 will be charged.
The fees are subject to your nationality and the number of entries. Please see the below fee table about applying for a transit visa in USA:
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