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Chinese Visas – Everything You Need to Know

What are Chinese visas?

Chinese visa, is an authorization granted by the People’s Republic of China’s visa authority to a foreign national for entry into, exit from, or transit through Chinese territory in line with its laws and regulations. In accordance with the status, intended use, and type of passport of the foreign national, the Chinese visa authorities will grant either a diplomatic visa, courtesy visa, service visa, or regular visa.

How to understand the validity, number of entries and duration of stay?

The validity of a visa describes the time frame during which the holder of the visa may enter China. A visa is valid starting on the day it is issued. Regardless of whether the allowed number of entries has been used up, the visa expires and is no longer valid.

The number of entries on a visa describes how many times the holder may enter China while the visa is still valid. The visa loses its validity once all of its entries have been used. The visa is no longer valid even if there are still open entries if its validity has already passed.

Duration of stay of a visa refers to the longest period the visa holder is allowed to stay in China from the day following entry to China on each visit. Overstaying in China is against the country’s rules and laws regarding the management of foreigners’ admission and exit, and may result in a fine or other punishment.

What are the categories of Chinese visas?

To find out which visa type is best for your application, you can refer to the following visa categories.

Major Purpose of VisitVisa CategoriesDescription of Visa
Exchanges, visits, study tours and other activitiesFIssued to those who are invited to China for exchanges, visits, study tours and other activities.
Commerce & TradeMIssued to those who are invited to China for commercial and trade activities.
As a touristLIssued to those who are going to travel to China for tourism.
Family reunion, foster care or visiting relatives with permanent residence in China

 

Q1Issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for a long-term family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purposes of foster care (intended duration of stay in China exceeding 180 days).
Q2Issued to those who intend to visit relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent residence in China; the intended duration of stay is limited to no more than 180 days.
Visiting relatives working or studying in China or other private affairsS1Issued to relatives of foreigners working or studying in China for the purpose of long-term visit, or to those who intend to visit China for other private reasons (intended duration of stay exceeding 180 days).
S2Issued to those wishing to visit family members that are foreigners working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private reasons.  The intended duration of stay in China is limited to no more than 180 days.
EmploymentZIssued to those taking up a post or employment, or giving commercial performances, in China.
Commercial performances
TransitGIssued to those who are going to transit through China en route to a third country (or region).
As a crew member or a motor vehicle driverCIssued to foreign crew members of aircraft, trains and ships, motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities, and also to the accompanying family members of the above-mentioned ships’ crew members.
As a studentX1Issued to those intending to study in China for a period of more than 180 days.
X2Issued to those intending to study in China for a period of no more than 180 days.
As an introduced talentRIssued to those who are high-level qualified talents or whose skills are urgently needed by China.
As a journalistJ1Issued to resident foreign journalists/media staff of foreign news organizations stationed in China. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.
J2Issued to foreign journalists/media staff on temporary news coverage missions.  The intended duration of stay in China is limited to no more than 180 days.
Permanent ResidenceDIssued to those who are going to reside in China permanently.

What documents are required to apply for a Chinese visa?

Documents for F visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. An Invitation Letter 

The invitation letter should contain:

  1. Information of the applicant
  2. Details of the planned visit
  3. Information of the inviting party

Documents for M visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. Business invitation letter issued by a trade partner in China, or trade fair invitation, etc.

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Documents for L visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.or

7. An Invitation Letter for tourist issued by a relevant unit or individual in China (for Chinese citizens) or foreign passport and residence permit (for foreign citizens).

The invitation letter should contain:

  1. Information of the applicant
  2. Details of the planned visit
  3. Information of the inviting party

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Documents for Q1 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.or 

7. For family reunion, the following documents are required:

  1. An invitation letter provided by a Chinese citizen or a foreign citizen with a Chinese permanent residence permit to live in China.
  2. Photocopy of Chinese ID
  3. Original and photocopy of certification
  4. For foster care,the following documents are required:
  5. Original and photocopy of the natural parents’ or guardians’ passports
  6. Foster entrusted notarization
  7. A letter agreeing to foster care
  8. A photocopy of the certificate

Documents for Q2 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.or 

7. An invitation letter

8. Photocopy of Chinese ID(both front and back sides) or foreign passport and permanent residence permit provided by the inviting parties.

9. The proof of relationship including birth certificate, marriage certificate, Chinese household registration, certificate letter from the local police bureau in China, notarial certificate of kinship, etc.

Documents for S1 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.or

7. Applicants who are going to visit their relatives residing in China and intend to stay for more than 180 days need to provide:
a. A photocopy of the inviting party’s passport and residence permit.
b. An invitation letter

8. Original and photocopy of certification  (marriage certificate, birth certificate or notarized certification of kinship) showing the relationship of family members between the applicants and the inviting parties.

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Documents for S2 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.or

7. For visiting family members for up to 180 days, the following documents are required:
A.  A photocopy of the inviting party’s passport and residence permit.
B.  An invitation letter. It should contain:
a) Information of the applicant
b) Information regarding the visit
c) Information of the inviting parties

8. Original and photocopy of certification applicants and inviting parties.

9. For medical treatment, proof of treatment or acceptance letter for treatment from a Chinese hospital and a bank deposit statement are needed.

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Documents for Z visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. One of the following approval documents:
a.  Both original and copy of Alien Employment License of the People’s Republic of China issued by the Chinese government authority for Human Resources and Social Security;

b.  Both original and copy of Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China issued by the State Bureau of Foreign Experts;

c.  Copy of Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit in the People’s Republic of China;

d.  Copy of Letter of Invitation to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations in China issued by China National Offshore Oil Corporation;

e. Registration certificate of the resident representative office of foreign (original) enterprises issued by the related administrative department of industry and commerce;

Documents for X1 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. Original and photocopy of Admission Notice issued by a school or other entities in China;

8. Original and photocopy of “Visa Application for Study in China”

Documents for X2 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. Original and photocopy of Admission Notice issued by a school or other entities in China.

Documents for J1 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. An official letter issued by the media organization for which the journalist works

Documents for J2 visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. An official authorization letter issued by the media organization for which the journalist works.

Documents for C visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. A letter of guarantee issued by a foreign transport company and an invitation letter issued by a relevant unit in China.

8. Original and photocopy of Crew ID card.

Documents for G visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. An onward air (train or ship) ticket with a confirmed date and seat to the destination country or region.

Documents for D visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. The original and photocopy of the Confirmation Form for Alien Permanent Residence Status issued by the Ministry of Public Security of China.

Documents for R visa:

1. Passport 

2. Visa Application Form and Photo

3. Proof of legal status(applicable for those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

4. Photocopy of previous Chinese visas (applicable for those who have obtained Chinese visas before).

5. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas(applicable for those who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship).

6. Flight ticket booking record (round trip) and hotel reservation, etc.

7. Relevant certificate documents provided by high-level qualified personnel with special skills meeting the requirements of China’s relevant departments and urgently needed by China.

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The above is what you need to know about visas for China, and it is also important to note that if you want to come to China to study Chinese, you should apply for a student X2 visa. Sign up for our Chinese language courses, Keats School will send you the Admission Notice in advance, and you can contact us in advance if you have any questions about the visa application process.

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Sanny | USA

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I have been to Keats School to learn Chinese for 4 times now. The reason for coming back to this school is pretty much that the teachers I did work with were very good Chinese teachers. I make it a 5-year plan or even a 10-year plan to come back to this school.  All the teachers have methods of looking at what your skills are. They are aware of at what level you are. I think it is worth for everyone.

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Dr. Med. Beatrice | Austria

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I decided to learn Chinese in Kunming because I like smaller cities and I like the climate here. We had four hours a day study here and my dear teacher taught me very much and never lost her patience with me. It was a really wonderful experience to be here and I recommend Keats school and the teachers here to everyone who likes to learn Chinese in China.

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Robert | Netherlands

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Since last semester, we started studying Chinese at Keats. It was the best choice we can ever make. It is a really good school. The classes are a lot of fun, you learn a lot, but very interactive, so you talk a lot which means it is not just books and writing. Kunming is a really pleasant city to live in, especially if you compare it to other cities in the east. If you like to travel, if you like to study Chinese in a fun way, Keats has the best Chinese language program for you.

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Paul | UK

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Stew | UK

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Hilary | USA

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