The visa is a travel document issued by the authorized government department of a country to foreign citizens applying to enter, exit from, or transit through the host country’s territory based on the host country’s laws and regulations.
In accordance with international law and practice, any sovereign state is entitled to decide whether or not to allow a foreign citizen to enter or exit from its territory, and whether to issue a visa, decline a visa application, or cancel an issued visa in accordance with its national laws.
Chinese consular officials have the right to decide on the type, entry, valid period and duration of stay of a visa to be issued based on Chinese laws and regulations, and the right to decline a visa application or revoke an issued visa.
How many Chinese visa types are there?
Chinese visas fall into four types: diplomatic visa, courtesy visa, official visa and ordinary visa. Ordinary visa is further divided into the following categories:
(I) Tourist Visa and Family Visitor Visa (L Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to go to China as a tourist, or for visiting a family member, or for other personal affairs that will last only a short term.
(II) Visit Visa (F Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to go to China for a visit, investigation, lecture, business, technical and cultural exchanges, advanced study and internship via an invitation. The duration of each stay shall be no more than 6 months.
(III) Student Visa (X Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to study, engage in advanced study, or internship in China for a period of more than 6 months.
(IV) Work Visa (Z Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to work, engage in commercial performance, or academic exchanges in China and their accompanying spouses and minor children.
(V) Flight Visa (C Visa): Issued to foreign crew members of international transportation, including aircraft, trains and ships engaged in cross-border transport activities.
(VI) Journalist Visa (J Visa): Includes J-1 and J-2. J-1 is issued to foreign journalists who reside in China and their accompanying spouses and minor children. J-2 is issued to foreign journalists who intend to go to China for short-term news coverage.
(VII) Transit Visa (G Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to transit through China to a third country or region, and stay at the airport for over 24 hours or leave the airport.
(VIII) Resident Visa (D Visa): Issued to foreigners who intend to reside in China upon approval.
What are the valid period, entries and duration of each stay of Chinese visas?
(I) Valid period (“Enter Before”) means the period that the visa is valid, or the period from the date of the issuance of visa to the “Enter Before” date indicated on the visa (Beijing Time). If a visa has unused entries, the bearer can enter China before the expiration date (including this date).
(II) “Entries” refer to the number of times the bearer is permitted to enter China during the valid period of a visa. A visa becomes invalid if there are no entries left, or there are entries left but the visa validity expires. If a visa becomes invalid, its bearer must apply for a new visa before entering China. Traveling with an invalid visa to China will result in refusal of entry.
(III) “Duration of Each Stay” refers to the maximum number of days the visa bearer is permitted to stay in China each time, which is calculated from the date of entry into China.
A foreign citizen who overstays the end date of his/her authorized stay in China without going through extension formalities is subject to fines and other penalties for violation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Control of the Entry and Exit of Aliens and its Detailed Rules for Implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Control of the Entry and Exit of Aliens.
If a visa bearer is to stay in China longer than the duration of stay allowed on the visa, approval must be obtained from local public security authorities above the county level before the duration of stay expires (Please check the website of the local public security authorities for more information). Approval of an extension of stay may or may not be granted. Chinese Embassies and Consulates overseas are not authorized to extend a visa.
The bearer of a Work (Z) Visa, Student (X) Visa, Resident (D) Visa, or Resident Journalist (J-1) Visa must apply for a residence permit at the local public security authorities within 30 days of entry into China. Members of foreign diplomatic or consular organizations in China must apply for a residence permit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or local foreign affairs departments within 30 days of entry into China.
What documents are required for application for a visa?
(I) Passport: Original passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a photocopy of the passport’s data page and photo page.
(II) Visa Application Form: One completed Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China. The applicant of Work (Z) Visa, Student (X) Visa, the third country citizen, and accompanying people shall also fill in one Attached Form of Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China. Please complete and sign the form according to the directions.
(III) Photo: A recently taken 2’ (48 mm*33 mm) color passport photo (bareheaded, full face) shall be attached on the application form.
(IV) Proof of legal stay or residence status: applicable to those not applying for the visa in their own country of citizenship. The third country citizen shall provide valid certificate for stay, work, and study in America, or original and a photocopy of valid American visa when applying for visa in America.
(V) Previous Chinese passports: applicable to foreign citizens who were born in China (including born in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) and have obtained foreign citizenship; when applying for the Chinese visa for the first time, you should provide previous Chinese passport and a photocopy of its time extension page and photo page (if applicable).
(VI) Proof of name change: If your name on the current passport differs from that on the previous one, you must provide an official certificate of name change.
(VII) Previous Chinese visas: If you are an overseas Chinese with foreign nationality and were born in China, and you obtained a Chinese visa before and want to apply for a Chinese visa with a renewed foreign passport, you should present the original data photo page of the previous passport and the photocopy of the previous Chinese visa.
Where should I apply for a visa?
You can apply for a visa at a Chinese Embassy or Consulate General.
How long before my planned trip should I apply for a visa?
We suggest you apply for your visa a month before your trip to China. If you apply for the visa too early, the visa may have expired before you can use it. If you apply for the visa too late, you may not have enough time to get the visa before you leave.
How long does it take to get a visa after my application?
If you have submitted all the necessary documents, it normally takes 4 workdays. This time frame varies from case to case.
Getting a Visa
Foreign citizens must obtain a Chinese visa before entry into China. Entering without a visa is only applicable to those with relevant agreements or regulations. For information about application documents, how to apply, visa/entry permits for HK/Macao SAR, fees, application forms, and frequently asked questions, please visit the visa section of website of the Embassy of the Peopleís Republic of China in the USA: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/
For more information about China visa application, please visit China Embassy official website: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/
Application form download: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fd/
Adjustment of Visa Application
The Chinese Visa and Passport Office released the 2013 edition of the Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China. The form has been posted at the website of the Chinese Consulate here. The new application form must be completed online and then printed out on letter-sized paper for submission. Incomplete forms, hand-written or altered forms are not accepted.
As of September 1, 2013, the visa application requirements of the People’s Republic of China have been adjusted. To ensure smooth submission of a visa application, please click here to check visa application requirements and get all necessary paper work before submitting your application.
Under the new Regulations, an “R” visa, designed to attract foreign talent, has been added into the new system. The current business visa, the “F” visa, will now be issued to visitors coming to China for non-commercial official visits; an “M” visa has been added for business and trade purposes. Tourists will still apply for an “L” visa, while overseas
Chinese holding foreign passports may obtain a new visa for home visits, with which they may be granted a longer stay than ordinary tourists.
Pay attention to the following when making visa applications:
A. Make arrangements in advance in case the visa is initially turned down or time is limited.
B. The applicant should truthfully and clearly fill out the application form and sign it. The parent or guardian of a minor may sign on behalf of the minor, stating their relationship.
C. The application should be true and complete with required associated documents. Applications will be rejected if associated documents are forged or incomplete.
D. Answer officers’ questions truthfully. In accordance with relevant Chinese regulations and international practice, a consular officer has the right to require all relevant documentation of the applicant and the right to refuse to grant a visa without giving reasons for the decision.
E. The visa officer shall decide the visa type, times, validity period and length of stay in accordance with relevant regulations, after consideration of the applicant’s request.
F. An applicant shall check all details when obtaining a visa, and shall promptly raise any questions.
The applicant is liable for any consequences in the following circumstances:
A. Failure to fill out the application form truthfully or completely can lead to the rejection of the visa application.
B. Failure of the passport or photograph to meet requirements, or failure to provide relevant documentation or information requested by the visa officer, can cause the rejection of the visa application.
C. If the visa is expired, or it is not ready in time, which leads to rejection at the point of boarding for travel to China or at the point of entry to China.
D. The visa is invalid and cannot be used any longer, due to the applicant’s action or omission or due to the actions or omissions of a third party.
E. The applicant is rejected at the point of boarding for travel to China or at the point of entry to China, for any reason related to visa dates, or the validity, length of stay, or dates of a passport.
F. If the visa cannot be used at any point because of the applicant’s actions or omissions.
Please note that the visa information provided by China National Tourist Office are just for your reference. In case of any visa policy and application process changes by China Embassy, please visit or contact China Embassy for most updated information.
The people’s Republic of China currently maintains one Embassy in Washington D.C., but also maintains 5 consulates-general in the following U.S. cities: New York, NY; Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; Los Angles, CA; Houston, TX.
To find out which Chinese Consular post that holds jurisdiction over your area of residence, please visit: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/t84229.htm
72-hour Transit Visa Exemption for Foreign Nationals
There are 51 countries whose citizens can apply for 72-hour visa free status. Travelers from these countries must hold valid international travel documents and air tickets to apply for 72-hour visa free status.
If you are flying in to: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang,Dalian, Xi’an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen or Harbin airports, and intend to visit a third country or region, this visa allows you to stay in specified areas for three days.
The 51 visa-free countries include:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Albania, Belgium, 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.