Visa types and application procedures

In general, Chinese embassy will take about a week to deal with your visa application if all your documents meet the requirements. However gathering your documentation and processing your visa may take you a while. Therefore you should leave lots of time for preparation. Despite you are intent to apply for tourist visa, normally two or three months is enough for the whole process.


Nevertheless, you should be reminded that Chinese visas are only valid for entry within three months of their issue date. So try to manage your time well, meaning you should have enough time for application, while do not make it too far from the date you leave for China.


Types of visas

As of now, these are the types of Chinese visa available:


L- (tourist visa) L visas are tourist visa which issues an applicant with tourist purposes, or family visiting or other personal reasons. You are typically allowed to stay in the country for 30 days, although request of longer stay may be successful as well. Multiple-entry L visa is possible but the probability is less.


F- (visit or business visa) F visas are for applicants who have short-term advanced studies or business visit in China. For getting F visas, an invitation from Chinese institution or company is necessary. F visas allow you to stay for 6 months in this country. As usual, longer request and Multiple-entry F visa is possible.


Z- (work visa) Z visas are applicants who are employed in China. In order to apply for Z visa, you have to get a letter of   invitation and work permit from your employer.


X- (student visa) X visas are issued to applicants who are going to pursue their long-term study or intern practice in China and their accompanying family members. Usually an enrolment letter and an application form from Chinese school or Chinese company are necessary for application.


G- (transit visa) G visas are for applicants who are going to transit through China in order to make their way to another country or region.


D- (resident visa) D visas are for applicants who are going to stay at China permanently. D visas are extremely tough for foreign citizens to obtain since you have to live at China for some time and make significant contributions to this country. If you apply for D visa, you will first need a permit from local government in China and prepare a huge amount of documents to assist the application.


J- (journalist visa) J visas are for applicants who are foreign journalists. There are short-term one (J1) and long-term one (J2). A letter from both an employer and the Foreign Affairs Office is necessary for application. No matter what kind of journalistic activities you are participating, you should get J visa to avoid being put into prison.


Change of visas

In some conditions, you may hope to change your visa because some visas do not allow you to engage some activities. For example, holding L or F visa, you are illegal to get employed in China. In the case of getting caught, you will get fined and usually repatriated. Fortunately, change of visa is possible butit requires you to go back to your home country to obtain a new one with an original letter of invitation.


Preparation for Application of Chinese visa

You have to go to your local embassy of China to submit your application. Below is the documentation (all or some of them) you will need to process your application:

- A passport valid at least for 6 months

- A visa application form

- A photo for your passport

- Supporting documents (usually a letter of invitation or work permit from your host institution or company)

- A physical exam certificate

Since different types of visas have different requirements, you should always check before your application and submit as many supporting documents as possible to increase the possibility of success. Moreover, typically you have to pay a fee to go through the application which depends on the type of visa.


Accompanying family members

Your accompanying family members will get the same type of visa as you have applied for. Though they have to fill out an individual application form and pay extra fee.


Professional Chinese visa services

If you are facing a condition which makes you extremely difficult to obtain a visa, you can consult the professional Chinese visa services (most of them are based on Hong Kong). It should be reminded that the charge will be fairly high but they may complete the mission impossible.


Multiple entry visa

If you frequently travel between mainland China and Hong Kong or Macau, you need to apply for multiple entry visa because Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions to China and your Chinese visa does not work there.

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