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New Chinese Visa Rules: Please Read
Posted by: Forum Edito ... Forum Editor's Posts
Post time: 30-Apr-2008  11:15



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.

[Last edited by Forum Editor on 8-Sept-2008  14:04]


Post by: tim  Time: 7-May-2008  10:15
Thanks for posting this. My F visa is up soon and its been really hard to find good information about visas. Grrrr. It's so frustrating!
Post by: myucateco  Time: 7-May-2008  13:40
By the way, has anyone any current information on how much a Z visa for Americans cost these days? Thanks
Post by: MmeLadybug  Time: 7-May-2008  14:56
1270 HKD for a rush Z visa in HK. That was in March.
Post by: myucateco  Time: 8-May-2008  10:07
Thanks. I was actually called an hour after posting that comment and told by the university I'm applying to work for that, even as an American, I must return to my home country to apply for the Z visa. I almost can't believe this. Does anyone heard this? Is this misinformation or a new development?
Post by: Cestmoi  Time: 10-May-2008  15:21
Possibly a mistake in the title of 搂 6. above ? isn't it F = business L= tourist Z = resident ?
Post by: ForumEdito ...  Time: 13-May-2008  19:15
Thank you Cestmoi! We appreciate our alert and helpful readers. Apolgies for the mistake.
Post by: Rebekah   Time: 14-May-2008  15:48
My brother just got back from a trip to London yesterday. He is working in China on an F business visa. When he arrived in China, he asked for a multi-entry visa. They asked for his plane ticket out of China. So he booked a ticket with to Hong Kong. He was able to call them and get an e-ticket booking sent immediately to his email. He showed the booking and a letter from a friend in China basically saying "John Smith is my friend, he will be staying with me from May to June. At such and such address in Shanghai." My brother of course, has his own apartment, but he can't say this. After "booking" the flight with Ctrip just to prove the booking, he then called them and they canceled the booking for only 200 RMB. So if you are living and working in China on an L or F visa, these are the kind of things you will need to do. Jump a few hoops. It's a bit annoying, but it can be done.
Post by: dudaduda  Time: 15-May-2008  15:37
Could you pls tell where your brother applied for multi-entry visa? Thanks.
Post by: michaeldma ...  Time: 17-May-2008  22:52
Not sure if anyone else has tried obtaining a legitimate Z visa recently, but someone I know who got a job working for one of the big state-run media companies (Xinhua, CCTV, China Daily, etc.) couldn't even get a Z visa in Hong Kong. She was given an F visa for 30 days and told that she would need to go back to Australia to apply for her Z visa. Yikes!
Post by: lion lady  Time: 19-May-2008  14:51
TIP: This is not 100 percent certain, but I have heard that instead of having to show a hotel booking that you can also show an invitation letter from a friend/relative living in China inviting you to stay with them with their address and phone number and the length of your intended stay when you apply for a tourist or business visa. Can anyone confirm this?