Getting a Visa for China

If you’re thinking of traveling to China or you’ve already begun planning, things can look a little overwhelming. Although it may seem that way, getting a visa doesn’t have to be complicated. Below is a breakdown of visa options, requirements, and procedures to make your travel experience and preparation a great deal easier. These are the four most common visas. There are several others, such as a residents visa, and a transit visa; however, due to their nature one should enquire at a Consulate or Embassy directly as they are highly specialized.

The first thing you have to remember is that all visa applications must be made at either a Chinese Embassy or a Consulate outside of China. It is possible to renew an application while in China, however this document will not provide those details. For this it is recommended that you contact your county’s Consulate in China, or speak with the employer or school sponsoring your visa (if that is the case).

There are several types of visas available. You should choose one depending on your needs and purpose of travel.
1. Business/Official visit Visa (F visa):
This visa is reliant upon an official invitation from a Chinese government department or an organization authorized by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The invitation should come with a company letter. This invitation, along with your visa application will allow you to choose between a single entry, double entry, or multiple entry visa.
These visas are generally used by diplomats, corporate visitors, and even foreign teachers coming in for the first time. (Foreign teachers will later have to apply for a proper working visa, but these are sufficient to get in. The school will generally take care of the rest.)
2. Student Visa (X visa):
The first step is completing the visa application. Be sure to be precise and accurate in your student information. In addition to this every student wishing to enter China must have an authorized JW201 or JW202 form. This is a Foreign Student Application form that is issued by the Chinese State Education Ministry. In addition to these two things, the applicant must also have a letter or enrollment from the University they are going to attend.
These visas are used by students wishing to study in any field in China. They do not allow for the student to work in China, only to study.
3. Employment/Work Visa (Z visa):
As with any of the visas you must provide a complete and accurate visa application. For this visa option you must provide a letter of invitation from the company or agency for which you will work.
This visa is a little complicated as although you obtain a work visa you still are not permitted to live in China. If you are in China on short-term work this isn’t a problem. However, foreign teachers are put onto these visa by the school they work for once they begin and are required to obtain a Residents Permit as well. In most cases the school will complete all the necessary paperwork and arrangements. If you are not so fortunate, you will need a health certificate. This can be obtained in China through a local hospital with an appointment made, or in your home country. Should you opt to do it in your home country, the certification must be notarized, legalized by the Secretary where the document was notarized, and then authenticated by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. Enquire at your local Consulate with any questions.
4. Tourist Visa (L visa):
You can apply for a single entry, double entry, or multiple entry visa. This visa is fairly easy to obtain, however departure airline tickets from China are generally asked for. In addition, you could be asked to provide a letter of invitation from a tourist group or agency, of an invitation from a resident. Be prepared to provide these should it be required. Enquire at your local Consulate for specific requirements.

Visa applications can be picked up at a local Consulate or Embassy, or online through your nearest Consulate’s webpage.

Visa fees vary depending on the visa type and number of entries required.

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