This week I attended an AmCham seminar on the new regulations for Chinese visas. I thought I’d share my notes with everyone so that you can all be informed about the new rules:
- There are no changes to the Z (work) visa procedure. These visas are converted into work and residency permits inside China upon entrance into the country.
- Currently people need to apply in their home countries for Chinese visas and cannot apply in Hong Kong (other third countries are currently okay at the moment including Macao). Only those with either HK work permits or HK ID can apply for visas in Hong Kong.
- Visa processing takes longer so you need to be prepared and apply in advance.
- For L (tourist) visas, you are required to have a copy of a hotel reservation a photocopy of a round-trip plan ticket.
- For F (business) visas, you are required to apply at the consulate/embassy in your country of residence. The consulates/embassies are only issuing 30-day single or double-entry visas. The following are the required documents: original letter from the Chinese government ministry; Chinese hotel reservation; photocopy of return plane tickets.
- F visas can be extended inside China only. If extended in Beijing they can only be extended to July 1st 2008. If extended in Shanghai, they can be extended for the standard 30 to 60 days and count as single entry (and supposedly beyond July 1st). Extensions take five working days and must be applied for in person.
- For the letter from the Chinese government ministry (usually the local foreign affairs office), this must be applied for by a locally registered company such as a WOFE or domestic Chinese company in the city where the person applying for the F visa intends to visit. IE if the person intends to visit Shanghai, the letter must be applied for by a company in Shanghai.
- Representative offices must apply through an agent such as FESCO to get the letter from the relevant ministry
- Those people who are in China for longer than 90 days continually or more than 180 days in a calendar year should apply to be on a Z visa, which would be changed to a residency permit inside China.
- F and L visas for senior managers can be changed to work and residence permits from inside China. Also all companies with capital over US$3 million can change F and L visas to work and residency permits for all employees. Representative offices also can’t apply directly for Z visas. They must apply for L or F visas and convert them to work and residency permits inside China.
- These regulations will most like last after the Olympics. The government is really cracking down on F visa holders who are actually residents inside China as they are really residents here, and should therefore be on residency and work permits and be paying taxes.
I hope this clears things up for a lot of people. J. P.S. It’s the Labour Day holiday in China, so I’m not posting for this weekend. I may post a book review on Lost Laowai though so please check there.
Update: Rich at All Roads Lead to China just posted a story that it looks like some multi-entry F and L visas are being canceled. He says the information is third hand but it is something worth watching.
Update II (May 12, 2008): Student visas will not be extended during the Olympics. People of African nationalities also seem to be having problems getting visas.