When you want to move to China, travel in China, study in China, work in China or basically stay in China for any period of time you will first need to take care of a few formalities. One of those formalities is applying for a visa for China.
What is a visa for China?
The Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) describes a Chinese visa as the following:
“Chinese visa is a permit issued by visa authorities of China in accordance with the laws and regulations of China to a foreign citizen for entry into, exit from or transit through the territory of China. The Chinese Visa Authorities issue Diplomatic Visa, Courtesy Visa, Service Visa or Ordinary Visa to a foreign citizen according to his or her status, purpose of visit and type of passport.”
So to summarize, a Chinese visa is basically permit which is issued by appointed authorities, with which you can legally travel into, exit out of or transit through China. It is required for you to have a Chinese visa if you want to go to China. If you don’t have a Chinese visa you will be stopped by customs and will not be allowed to pass through.
So how can I get my Chinese visa?
First you will need to decide what kind of visa you will need, as there are several different types of visa’s you can apply for. So decide for what purpose you will be going to China and in the list below, find out what type of visa applies to you.
- Tourist and family visit visa (L-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for tourist purposes, family visit or other personal affairs.
- Business Visa (F-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is invited to China for visit, research, lecture, business, exchanges in the fields of science, technology, education, culture and sports, or attending various kinds of trade fairs or exhibitions, or short-term study, intern practice for a period of less than 6 months.
- Student Visa (X-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for the purpose of study or advanced study for a period of six or more months.
- Work Visa (Z-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China to work and his or her accompanying family members, or to give commercial performances in China.
- Transit Visa (G-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is to transit through China on his or her way to a third country (or region).
- Crew Visa（C-visa）is issued to crew member performing his/her duties on board an international train, or on an international airline, to a sailor on board an international ocean-liner or freighter, and also to their accompanying family members.
- Journalist Visa （J-visa）is issued to foreign journalists. J-visa has two categories: J-1 visa and J-2 visa. J-1 visa is issued to resident foreign journalists in China and their accompanying spouses and under-age children, J-2 visa to foreign journalists who visit China for temporary news coverage.
- Permanent Residence Visa（D-visa）is issued to a foreign citizen who has been approved by China’s public security authority to reside in China permanently.
If you are in doubt on what kind of visa you need, you can contact your local china visa authority for help, or ask me.
A short example: Let’s say you are a student and want to study in Beijing, China for 20 weeks (5 months). Do you apply for a Student visa (X-visa)? No, since you will only be staying there for 5 months you will apply for a Business visa (F-visa). In order to be eligible for a student visa you need to stay for a period of 6 months or more.
Each type of visa has its own forms you need to fill in, please check out the specifics for each visa to find out what you need to do to get your Chinese visa.
Please note that you do not always need a visa to enter China or transit through China, there are a few exceptions. You do not need to apply for a Chinese visa if:
- You are a citizen of Singapore, Brunei or Japan holding an ordinary passport and are coming to China for family visit, business or transit. Maximum days allowed in China: 15 (If you want to stay longer, you need to apply for a visa)
- You have a confirmed onward ticket and seat on an international flight and will stay no longer than 24 hours in China. In this situation you will not have to apply for a Transit visa.
- For more exceptions please go to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center website
You will need to apply for a visa at a local Chinese visa agency. I greatly recommend you do it at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center. This agency is available in the following locations:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Washington D.C.
- The Hague
- New Delhi
- Kuala Lumpur
There is a possibility that a location near you is not listed. Then you should find out on the internet where the closest appointed visa agency is located.
Once you have decided for what visa you should apply, you should then fill in the forms and apply at the visa agency. Do you still have questions about your visa, then please let me know!