HERE IS A POST-OLYMPICS VISA UPDATE.
NOTE FROM THE FORUM EDITOR: THIS LIST HAS BEEN EXPANDED AND UPDATED HERE.
As the saying goes, "ask 100 people a question and get 100 different answers, or ask 100 people a question and get the same answer, which is still wrong." This is all too true of China's new visa rules. So we've done our homework, sifted through the latest and best China visa news out there and separated rumors from fact—so you don't have to.
1. No more multiple-entry China visas issued
Multiple entry visas have been suspended until October. But multiple-entry visas that have not expired are still valid. Now only 30-day single or double-entry visas are being issued and some expats are having to go back to their home country to get visas.
2. Nationalities that cannot apply for visas in Hong Kong or Macau
As long as your country is not on the following list, you are still eligible to apply fro a China visa in Hong Kong or Macau. If you are on this list, you have to go back to your home country to apply for a visa: Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Bangladesh ,Congo, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Libya, South Africa, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Mauritania, Saudi Arab, Sierra Leone, Syria.
3. F Visas issued in China no longer renewed in China
Only F visas issued outside of China (not including Shenzhen of Zhuhai) can be extended within China. F visas issued within China cannot be extended. In such a case, you need to go to Hong Kong, Macau or another country to extend.
4. F and L visas good for only 30 days
If you want to stay in China for over 30 days, you need to apply for a Z work visa. Both F and L visas have been reduced to 30 days.
5. No switching visa types L to F
You can no longer change your visa type from L to F or vice versa.
6. New documentation required to apply for a tourist (L) visa:
Technically, you must provide:
- A copy of your hotel bookings valid from the day you arrive to the day you leave.
- A copy of a return flight ticket booking.
- A valid passport with plenty for extra pages, valid for at least 6 months.
- One recent passport photo.
- A letter from your employer stating that you'll be on vacation between your arrival and departure, as stated on your airline ticket.
- A bank statement with a minimum of US $3,000. Alternately, you can choose to show cash equivalent to US$700, if you do not show your financial statement.
Those last the two might be optional, but reports suggest that you should be prepared to provide all of the above documentation. To be safe, check ahead and be prepared!
7. Visa prices have gone up
Visa prices have almost doubled, depending on visa type and resident country. Check with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for details.
8. Use the China Travel Service (CTS) for Hong Kong and Macau
People recommend that if you go to Hong Kong to renew your visa you use the China Travel Service (CTS) to sort out your visa rather than the Commissioner's Office. There are about 40 CTS branches in Hong Kong (only one in Macau). The visa hotline number for the CTS is 852-2315-7188. You can only get a China visa on the same day in Hong Kong if you go to the CTS branch in Tsim Sha Tsui (1/F Alpha House, 27-33 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsu, Kowloon, open 9am-7pm weekdays, 9am-5pm Saturday).
9. Rules for getting a Z visa
If you are working in China without a work (Z) visa, it's time to get one. To get a Z visa, you must be employed by a registered company, undergo medical tests, be graduated for two years, provide letters that you and have worked for several companies before working in China. The main thing they are looking for in granting Z visas is that you are a specialist in your field and very much needed by your company for a position that could not be filled locally. Getting a Z visa takes 4-6 weeks. Many companies will apply for working visas on their employee's behalf.
10. Expect to wait in line--queue up early
The lineups at the visa offices are nasty. Get there two hours before they open and you might only have to wait two hours to be seen. The old "rush services" that once provided same-day visa services are no longer guaranteed. If you go to Hong Kong, book in for at least two nights. Lots of people are reporting that it takes four days now.
11. Businesspeople calling for visa clarification
Businesspeople are calling for further clarification of visa requirements for visiting the mainland after the central government confirmed that all travelers must apply for a visa from the country they live in. The Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents was last night unable to explain why the ministry's advice conflicted with a letter it issued to travel agents last week stating that only nationals from 33 countries could no longer apply for a mainland visa within Hong Kong, unless they were identity-card holders.
12. No more short-stop visas for Shenzhen
The short-stop visa for Shenzhen no longer exists. Immigration offices at the border stopped issuing short-stay visas to Shenzhen on April 1.
13. Carry your passport at all times
By law, all foreigners are to have their passports on them at all times. More and more people are being stopped and asked for credentials. If you are not carrying your passport, they will be happy to follow you home to get it.
As the information changes every day, check back with us regularly. We'll be updating our Passport & Visa forum regularly.