A Comprehensive Guide to Chinese Visa

Applying for a Chinese visa can be a little tricky, particularly because of all the technicalities involved. To make sure that the visa application goes smoothly, here are a few guidelines for China visa application. Remember, the visa policy of China can be subject to change at any point.

Do you need a visa to China?

A majority of the people do require a visa; however, there are a few exceptions. You will not be needing a Chinese visa if:

  • You have a stopover at China while traveling to another destination and won’t be stopping for more than 24 hours. However, you need to stay in the area of transit such as the port, train station, or airport.
  • You will be staying in any of the fifteen cities that have a transit policy which allows the travellers to stay in the city for 72 hours or 144 hours depending on their city while they are on the way to another destination. You can roam around in these fifteen cities without a visa; however, if you stay for more than the 72 or 144 hour limit without a visa, then you will have to face major consequences.
  • You are from Japan, Singapore, or Brunei and you plan to have a vacation, visit family, or conduct business not for more than fifteen days. Since there are stipulations in this case, it is important that you check first with your consulate.
  • You plan to travel to Hainan with a group of more than five people, and you don’t plan on staying for more than fifteen days.

How long does it take to get the visa

If you have submitted all the necessary documents, then it generally takes somewhere around two days to four business days to process the application.

Cost of the Chinese visa

The fee of the visa depends on your nationality, the required entries, and the place where you are applying. The price can range anywhere from USD30 to USD140 USD.

People from a few countries like Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Albania are not charged with a fee; however, people from countries like the UK or the USA will have to pay a high fee.

Different types of visa

With the different kinds of visa available, it can get a little confusing to decide which one is the right one according to your purpose. Here is a breakdown of the short-term visas available for travellers.

Tourist visa for China – visa L

This is the most common visa, and almost all travelers get this visa. If you plan to go to China on vacation or for visiting family, then you need a tourist visa. This is also the only visa for which you don’t need any help from a government agency, school, or business.

Business visa – visa F and M

Visa F is for those individuals that are invited to China for non-commercial exchanges, investigations, science-related ventures, health reasons, and education. However, to obtain this visa, you need to have an invitation from a business entity in China.

M visa is for those individuals that travel to China for business purposes. With this visa, you can’t be employed, or you can’t work in China. Instead, you are only allowed to conduct trades or business. However, for this visa too, you need an invitation letter by a Chinese company or organization.

Student visa – visa X

Student visas are of two different kinds; X1 and X2. With the X1 visa, the students can stay in China for more than six months, while with the X2 visas, the students can only stay for a maximum of six months.

Private visits – visa S

This visa allows family members to visit their loved ones that either work in China or go to school there. Only siblings, parents, grandparents, children, spouses, and in-laws of the person can use this visa.

Family reunion visas – Q visa

The visa is for those that wish to visit such family members that have been residing in China for quite some years now. The visa is for those foreigners that either have relatives that have a permanent residency in China or are Chinese citizens. People planning to take part in adoption or foster care in China must also choose this visa.

Documents needed for Chinese visa

While the basic requirements for getting a Chinese visa are the following, you might also need a few additional documents depending on the kind of visa you are applying for.

  • Original passport that has a validity of at least six months along with two blank pages
  • Black and white photocopy of the passport with a photo as well pages that might have any previous Chinese visas that you have gotten
  • A recent passport sized colour photo with a light background
  • Photocopy of the previous Chinese passport. This is only applicable for those foreign citizens that were Chinese citizens once and have now obtained foreign citizenship
  • Proof of the legal status in the country where you are applying for the Chinese visa like the resident permit. This only applies if you are applying for the Chinese visa outside the country of your citizenship.
  • The Chinese visa application form which is completely filled in, printed as well as signed.
  • The declaration – printed as well as signed. You only need this if you will be applying through the CVASC.
  • A printed copy of the appointment receipt. Again, this only applies if you apply for the visa through CVASC.
  • An invitation letter issued by an individual or relevant entity in China. You only need to have an invitation letter if you are going to be applying for a C, F, L, M, Q, S, or Z visa. However, you won’t need an invitation letter if you are applying for a C visa and have a letter of guarantee that has been issued by any foreign transport company. Similarly, you won’t need to have the letter for an L visa if you have a proof of hotel reservations for the entire duration of the stay in China.

On-arrival visa

You usually need to file for a visa in advance, but in certain cases when there is an emergency or a serious situation, you can obtain the visa on arrival. These usually require a proper invite from a well-known Chinese organization which clearly mentions the emergency. This usually happens when there is a business related emergency which is important to the economy of China. Other instances when entry is permitted are when the person is in a medical or mechanical emergency.

Individuals who have passports of countries that have discreet relations or some official trade linkages with China like letters, telegrams can apply for a visa at the entry port as mentioned by the Ministry of Public Security. The nationals of the United States and France are not applicable to the Rules on Visa Issued at Entry Ports.

Visa-free transit

People who are staying in a country for a short period of time while traveling to some other country use the transit visa. It is essential to have a valid visa or residency in the destination country. This cost of this is as much as for the tourist L visa. A number of airports don’t have an international transfer portion, and the baggage has to be collected, and the exit has to be done in the main area so a visa might be required.

In order to get a visa-free transit for China, you need a valid passport with a couple of blank pages and validity of six months and the complete application form, one photograph of 2x2 square inch, collared which has to be stapled or glued on the application form. A valid visa is also required to the desired destination along with a ticket (air, ship, train) with a confirmed desired date, seat and the final destinations name clearly written. The regular processing time is approximately 4 days, and the application can be submitted personally to the consular office in the Chinese Embassies, Consulates, etc.

How To Get E-Visa For China

In order to get an e-visa to China, you are required to fill the application form online along with all the authentic details. Payment is to be done via credit card or PayPal. This is then emailed to the authorities in China, and you receive your visa through an email that ensures your entry in China. The whole process is extremely simple and takes around 5 days to be fully processed.

Where to apply?

Where and the method of applying for the visa depends on the country you live in.
In a majority of the countries including Canada, Australia, UK, and the EU countries, you can apply through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center or the CVASC. Visit the official website www.visaforchina.org to apply.

However, if there is no application service centre in your country, then you must apply at the Chinese Consular office serving your province. You will have to do the same if you live in America. The location of the Chinese Consular Office, however, varies according to the state you live in.