Chinese VISA application: a complete guide

Chinese VISA

This article is a complete guide – updated to November 2013 for getting a Chinese VISA. You’ll discover:

  • The requirements and how long it takes for obtaining any type of Chinese VISA.
  • Where to get a Chinese VISA (either in your country or abroad).
  • The different kind of Chinese VISAs (Tourist, Business, Student and Work VISA) and the changes that took places on July 2013.
  • How much it costs to obtain a Chinese VISA.

Do I need a Chinese VISA?

Yes, you do. The only exceptions are represented by people that own a passport from Singapore, Brunei or Japan (they can stay in China 15 days without VISA) and people that are on transit for less than 72 at Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Chengdu’s airport within 72 hours.

How long does it takes to get a VISA?

If you have all the required documents and own a passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages, it should take between one (if you can apply for the express service) and four working days to get a Chinese VISA.

The best time to apply for a Chinese VISA is within two months and fifteen days before departure. You can’t ask your VISA too early because, if you don’t use it, the VISA will expire after 90 days starting from the day you obtained it.

How much does it costs?

The price may vary from 30 to 140 USD according to your nationality, the type of VISA and the number of entries.

Usually for European people it’s cheaper while American people are often required to pay more than 100 USD.

Where to get a VISA?

Generally speaking, you should apply at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your country (here you find a complete list), especially when it comes down to work and student VISAs.

However the people that are already traveling or working in Asia may also apply in Hong Kong (at the moment only through an agency as VISA application at the consular office are allowed only to Hong Kong’s residents).

Click here to read our guide for getting a Chinese VISA in Hong Kong.

Keep in mind that the government may abruptly decide to restrict VISA requirements as they did in 2008 (before the Olympics game in Beijing any days). I don’t want to scare you, just be prepared to deal with the unforeseen.

In practice you can also apply in other countries but do it at your own risk as it’s possible (probable?) that your application will be rejected. It also depends on your passport: Italian and German people, for instance, seem to experiment much less problems than French and American people. It usually depends on how good (or bad) are the relationships between China and your country. Since July 2013 even in Hong Kong they started to reject a lot of applications. Click here for the details.

China tourist visa

The different types of Chinese VISA (and the requirements to get it)

The basic requirements to get a Chinese VISA are a passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages, a recent photo of 2×2 square inches and an application form.

You can download the application form here, just choose the one that corresponds to the country where you are planning to apply because it may be slightly different.

Tourist VISA (or L VISA)

Tourist VISAs are issued to people that want to travel around China or visit their Chinese related.

The basic requirements listed above were usually enough. However since July 2013 some Chinese Embassies or Consulates started to ask you a copy of your return flight ticket to China and a copy of your Chinese hotel booking for at least 30% of your stay (p.s. for booking an hotel I recommend Agoda because often has the cheapest offers).

Let’s see an example. If you have a flight ticket Los Angeles – Beijing for the 3 December and a return ticket Beijing – Los Angeles for the 12 December you’ll have to show an hotel invoice for at least the first three night in China (3, 4 and 5 December).

If you intend to stay at your (foreign) friend’s house you won’t need an hotel invoice. However your friend will have to send you an invitation letter that contains his full name, his address in China, his passport and resident permit’s number and his signature. I also recommend to get a copy of his passport and resident permit (just to be sure). If you friend is Chinese you’ll need the invitation letter and a copy of his ID card.

Sometimes the consular office employee may even ask you a financial proof before accepting your VISA application. Hence, before going to the VISA office, be sure to send an enquiry by email or call them to know the documents that you need to bring.

The most common tourist VISA is the Single Entry Tourist VISA (that is you can’t go out China and then enter again with the same VISA) and lasts between 30 and 90 days.

Sometimes, depending on your passport and on the mood of the immigration officers, you can also get a Double or Multiple Entry Tourist VISA. It means that you are allowed to go in and out the country twice with the same VISA (for double entry) and you can go in and out all the times you want (for multiple entry).

If you are planning to go to Tibet be aware that, beside your VISA, you need a special entry permit issued by the Tibetan Tourist Bureau. Actually at the moment you can only enter Tibet with a travel agency so just ask it to your favorite travel agency.

Business VISA (or M VISA)

It’s the new business VISA and it’s issued to people that come to China for business and trade activities.

You are required to provide an “Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit” issued by a registered Chinese company or organization.

Even if many people use a Business VISA to work in China, this is illegal. If you want to legally work in China, you need a Work VISA.


The new F VISA is issued to people that come to China for non-business purposes such a educational, scientific, cultural, health or sport reasons. Before July 2013 the “F VISA” corresponded to the business VISA.


It’s issued to foreigner professionals whose skills are urgently needed in China (R1 for long-term staying and R2 for short-term staying).

Student VISA (or X VISA)

If you want to study in China for less than 180 days you’ll have to apply for X2 VISA. However if you want to stay more you’ll need an X1 VISA.

You are required to provide an healthy certificate (check the details with the Chinese Embassy on your country), the JW201 (or JW202) form issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Admission Notice from your school. Your school should get these documents and send them to you.

A Student VISA is only valid for 30 days starting from the day that you enter in China. Then you should transform it in a Temporary Resident Permit (Check below to learn how to transform your Student VISA in a Temporary Resident Permit).

China VISA

Work VISA (or Z VISA)

Holding a Z VISA is the only way to work legally in China.

Be aware that not all employers can get you a Work VISA. For instance, small private English schools often can’t. This is the main reason for which they often try to convince you to come to China and work under a Tourist or Business VISA.

Do it at your own risk because it’s illegal. If you get caught working on the wrong VISA you risk to pay a fine that ranges between 5,000 and 20,000 and you any even end up in prison (from five to fifteen days). Afterwards you’ll be asked do living the country or, according to the conditions, being deported (at your expense. If you’re deported you’ll not be able to get a new Chinese VISA from a period that goes from one to ten years.

Having said that, many firms and public organizations (universities for instance) are accredited to employ foreign and can help you to get a work VISA as long as you qualify as a “foreign expert.”

Depending on the field, you may just need to prove to have English as first language and own a Bachelor degree (if you want to teach English) or you may provide a Ph.D. degree (if, for instance, you want to become a professor at the university).

The logic behind this rule is the following: you have to prove that you are useful to China by bringing some skills and expertise that the country needs. If you can’t do anything why a Chinese company should hire you instead of hiring a Chinese person?

So, if your employer is accredited to employ foreigners and you qualify as a foreign expert, your employer can apply for your Work Permit (also called Foreign expert certificate or in other ways according to your field of expertise).

Beside the Work Permit, in order to apply for the VISA you should also provide an healthy certificate (check the details with the Chinese Embassy on your country), “Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit” or “Confirmation Letter of Invitation” (your employer should get the letter for you), and a non-criminal record issued by your country (novelty from July 2013).

The Chinese law states that you can only get a Work VISA in your country. Then again, if you surf the internet you will find a lot of stories from people saying that you can also get it in Hong Kong (but I doubt this is still a possibility after the new rules from July 2013).

The work VISA will also allows you to bring your wife, husband or children to China. They will only need to provide a marriage or birth certification.

A Work VISA is only valid for 30 days starting from the day you entered in China. Then you should transform it in a Temporary Resident Permit (your employer should help you to do so).

How to transform your Student or Work VISA in a Temporary Resident Permit

In order to get the Resident Permit, which must be renewed each year, you will have to provide a bunch of documents and an Health Certificate issued by China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau or HK public hospitals.

I’ve covered this topic in detail on our free e-Book “Find a Job and Live in China.”

You can read it by suscribing to our newsletter (you’ll get the password within minutes):

[Photo Credits (Flickr Commons):,,].


  1. Tom says

    The last time I applied for a China visa in London UK I as usual applied for a multi entry and was told I could not have one – they would apply for 90 days but maybe I could only have a 30 day one.
    So I got a 90 day one and when that time was nearly up I went to Hong Kong to get another .
    Junction of Nathan road and Pekin Road there is a CTS office were I was going but this building has two entrances and I ended up on the 4th floor with another visa agent – Their service was wonderful
    I filled in some basic details on a form they gave me – one page – on turning it over they said “Do not fill part in we do that. They then took my photo, I paid and was told to come back the day after tomorrow.
    My new visa was not the same colour as all my previous ones. It was issued in Shenzhen and not Hong Kong. On going through the China immigration in Shenzhen the guy said “Huh a temporary visa” but it was for the 90 days I needed.
    This agent also offered a multi-entry one but at that time I did not need that .
    I will not bother with the visa situation in the Uk where the form wants you to buy your air ticket before application – want the names and contact details of any friends you have in China – needs to know which hotel you will use – needs to know if you are married – needs a complete itinerary of your travel plans. I feel like saying ” is this a joke”.

    When I first got a China Visa 1995 form was about two pages – now I think it is five.

    This for us from the Uk may be a bit of “tit for tat” as the form the Chinese have to fill up for a UK visa is ( or was until recently ) in english and the Chinese apparently have to be fingerprinted.
    = How daft can you get.

    So my advice is apply in Hong Kong – go to corner of Nathan Road / Pekin Road, Kowloon Entrance is on Peking Road chose the entrance on the right when facing the building – office is on 4th floor – exit lift turn left and left again if my memory is correct.

    If you want one the same day CTS can do that for you.

    • Furio Fu says

      Hey Tom,

      thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, at the moment it seems indeed easier to get your VISA in Hong Kong than in Europe. However my experience with China tells me that rules may change fast.

      I’ll try to keep the article updated, hopefully with the help of readers like you : )

  2. says

    American citizens should use an agency, such as Travisa (, to avoid delays and hassles. If you think that another trip to China may occur in the near future, ask for a one-year multiple entry visa. The price is the same, regardless of number of entries and visa duration. A 30-day single entry visa costs the same as a one year multiple entry visa – last year I paid $145 for a one year multi-entry visa.
    Use an agency. Thanks for the article – very informative.

    • Furio says

      Hey Will,

      this make sense to American citizens because the costs for you are higher (Italians pay 50 USD for a single entry VISA while American 130 USD, if I remember well).

      So yeah, I think I will add it on the article, especially for Americans hehe

  3. says

    Both my personal and professional experience has been mixed when visiting the China consulate in New York City. Personally I have never used an agency and depending on the lines the wait can take 30 to 90 minutes.

    Last check which was (2) weeks ago they where only issuing 6 month visas. However this is seldom to change by a case to case basis or other events.

    A few tips I would add:
    1 – If applying for travel to Tibet – Do NOT mention this at all during your application process.

    2 – If you need to extend your Tourist (L) or Business (F) visa you can easily accomplish this at a local police stations. In most cities there is a specific office that process these requests.

    3 – If you are looking for support with Travel to Tibet please feel free to contact me as I work with a Lonely Planet listed Travel Agency.

    Thanks Again for a very helpful article.


    • Furio says

      Hey Harley,

      thanks for the tips. About F VISA extension, for how long do you think you can extend it from within China? This may be a useful info for a lot of readers

      • says

        Welcome Furio,

        In most cases I would expect it can be extended 3 months. Just depends on the current situation in China. Last year it was harder with the change of leadership. However this year it is expected to be more relaxed.

        Hope this helps your reader.

  4. Oti says

    I want to see my boyfriend family at china but still confused. I am from jakarta, indonesia. Do you have idea what to do because i want to stay in there 2month. They are lived hunan , changsha

  5. says

    This October in Hong Kong I was only been able to obtain a 30 day single entry visa which for one who has recently had 90 day entries is not much use.I went to your favourite agent and they confirmed this situation. This one was issued in Hong Kong and not Shenzhen like my 90 day one I got from an agent about a year ago – see my previous comment.

    Now in Zhuhai as it is close for a monthly trip to Hong Kong and I think it is a nicer place that Shenzhen.

    30 days limits me from taking on a flat for my stay which I have done for the past three years.

    I think I might look at Taiwan 90 days and no visa required

    • Furio Fu says

      Hi, in the Italian version of the website there were a lot of comments concerning VISAs in Hong Kong.

      I learned that from now on if you spend too much time in China with tourists/business VISA they won’t grant you anymore longterm VISAs in HK. You actually were lucky cause many people are getting 7 or 14 days VISA.

      Yup, Taiwan seems a good option. I’m in Thailand now but I’m considering to move to Taipei in 2014.

      p.s. I just updated the article on HK VISAs if you’re interested on knowing the details:

  6. maria says


    I know you need to prove 2 years post-graduate experience, but does anyone know what if you work as a freelance?
    Do you prepare a employment certificate for yourself?


    • says

      Hi Maria,

      From conversations I have had with TEFL teachers, it is really not possible to come to China ‘legally’ and be a freelancer. You cannot prepare your own certificate as you must be sponsored by a business.

      I know that many overseas students that come to China to study Chinese, have part time teaching jobs. However if you are looking to be a full time freelancer and be more legit, you would need to look to opening up a business in China.

      Hope this is helpful.


      • furio says

        Hey Harley,

        thanks for stepping in,


        for sure you can’t work in China as a “freelancer.” This is actually true on any country of the world. Thailand is the “freelancers and small biz heaven” because you can get a Tourist Visa and renew it without limitations (as was for China in the past).

        I understood Maria’s question was more about the “two years of previous experience” in order to get a Z VISA and legally work as English teacher in China.

        It’s fucked up because the only thing you could do is to:

        1) Prove you have a business (a limited company biz license 2 years old, for instance)

        2) Prove that this business is on the language niche

        However if you want a Z VISA on second/third Chinese cities you don’t need to years of previous experience on teaching English. As far as I know you only need that in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and maybe Tianjin (they are damn picky haha)

        • says


          No worries.

          Either way it is much harder to get a job in many cities now without the experience. I would say your list of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc. could be expanded. I know that within Chengdu the ministry that reviews CV’s to determine if they get a Z or not has been more restrictive.

          Given the economic situation and more people wanting to work here, they are applying more scrutiny to the visa applicants. That is unless someone has a good relationship, then all bets are off.


          • maria says

            Hi again!

            I still have the same question and yes you understood right. I don’t want to work as freelance but I have worked most time as freelance, I have my own business and I don’t have 2 years of experience in an office. I got an offer recenttly for a job,so I would like to know how I should prove my experience in order to get visa z.

            Thank you both again!

          • Furio Fu says


            there is no fixed rule… Personally, they accepted my Ph.D. degree; for teachers, they accept a letter from a school they worked beforehand, etc.

            It also depends on the province, not all provinces enforce the “2 years experience” clause.

            If you only worked as a freelancer all your life I have no idea. Be creative, find out if your work can be seen as some kind of specialty and prove the 2 years with taxes reports etc.

            The law seems to be quite open on this matter and, at the end, it will come down on how strong is the organization that wants to hire you and how badly they want to hire you.

      • says

        My girlfriend from Guangzhou n we are planing to get married on this May,2015. My inquire is, what type o documents I need to present on the day of marriage registration? And what type of documents my girlfriend should present? I have been going to China with L visa n each time I stay 30days n this time I m planning to apply for six month mutruple entry visa? As I m frequently traveling there n staying long each time, is there any possibpossibility to deport me or refuse my visa application?

  7. MARGARET says

    Consular office in Chicago is brutal. If you have one item incomplete or inaccurate according to their standards you are sent away without guidance as to why the form is wrong. Also, once an error is found you are summarily rejected, they do not read through the entire form to identify other corrections that may be needed. Some people were saying they were sent away five times to make corrections to the form. And, of course, since the corrections are made online, you cannot do the corrections on the spot. Finally, I saw a post that someone got their Visa upon entry in Hong Kong. I believe this is no longer possible.

  8. Carlos says

    Hi furio
    how about when you do not have a local embassy in your country.
    I am from honduras ,we dont have embassy or consulate
    I submitted all the docuement in shenzhen,china ,now I am in Hong kong
    my invitation letter is ready.
    can I get it in HK ?

    • furio says

      Hola Carlos,

      it all depends on the relationship between China and Honduras. As an example, for French people get the VISA is more difficult cause the Chinese government didn’t like some declaration made by the French government. I have no experience with Honduras passport but on principle you shall be ok in HK.

      • Carlos says

        Thanks for your reply.
        I am thinking in two options ask the hong kong immigration office if they can or not.
        or go directly to chinese the embassy and simply try.

        Regards to all.

  9. santiago says

    Hi Furio
    do you know,if is possible to get a new visa ,after been deported.
    I overstay 46 days ,I pay the fine and get the 10 days visa to out china.
    Many agents offer me one year visa very high price USD 2000 or 4000.
    I want to do the right thing after deal with the police and been interview for not friedly chinese.
    nobody will want more problems.

    Hope you can give me some suggestions.

    I am from mexico I do not tell you excuse about my overstay ,I only forget ,my fault.
    sorry very silly mistake.become a BIG PROBLEM.


  10. Tim says

    Hello I hold an X student visa issued in Kunming City in Yunnan Province (will expire on July 2014).
    I just got married to a chinese citizen in Wenzhou. Now I would like to know if I can change my Current X visa to Q Visa in Wenzhou ? Or do I need to cancel my X visa and get an L tourist visa first in Kunming then go to Wenzhou change it to a Q one ?
    From what I understand is that if I want to apply while I am in China I can only get the Q2 visa and if I want the Q1 visa I will need to apply from my home country is that right ?
    Thank you.

    • Sborto Zhou says

      Hi Tim it seems that if you want to obtain the resident permit as a relative of Chinese citizen, you should enter china with a Q1 visa first. I’ll suggest you to ask an visa agency in HK if they can get you the Q1 visa. You’ll find the contact details of one of the best agencies in HK in our post about get a visa in HK.

    • Jean says

      Hi Tim, I have the same experience. Just go to Exit and Entry Administration Bureau in Wenzhou and apply for a Q visa, just make sure you have all the requirements needed. The officers will advise you when to apply for a Q visa (since your current visa will expire on July 2014) and they will be the one to decide whether to give you a Q1 or Q2 (but they usually issue Q1 for spouse of Chinese nationals) so you need not go back to your home country.

      I did the same thing this month. I got married in Xi’an last March 2014 and my visa expired April 12. The officer advised me to apply for a Q visa on April 9. My husband and I was interviewed a week after that. Then they issued me a Q1 and I was able to picked it up yesterday.

      • samad says

        Hope you are doing great mate. you have mentioned the great information.

        i am having the same problem. i’m pakistani and i am holding the student visa and seeking for Q1. i am married here and my wife is Chinese. my visa will expire in September but i want to switch it from now. For this my wife called the local PSB and they said that i have to exit the country.i really don’t know what to do.

        Another i was planning to go to Malaysia to get my visa from there as it’s cheap to fly there. but after contacting the Chinese embassy in KL. their reply was that Non-Malaysian citizens who don’t hold long term Malaysian visa student or working cannot apply for chinese visa from here.

        can we apply from any country or just the home country?
        My email is ( please contact me if you wanna give me some advice and help me out.

  11. zain says

    I am applying for a Z Visa through the Chinese embassy in Bangkok, however I will have to fly to China from South Africa. Is there any rule which prohibits applying for a Visa in one country but showing a flight to China from a different country?

  12. Abel says


    I would like to ask something…

    So I will move to Shanghai for work soon as an IT Engineer and just wondering if I could also teach english as a sideline?

    Since im from the philippines, english is our 2nd language and i also have a minor on it and also taught english language to japanese people before.

    Any idea if it is legal to do that? even private tutoring?


    • Furio Fu says

      Hi, I don’t think that’s 100% legal because you’re getting your resident permit as an engineer. It may be possible but in order to do it LEGALLY you shall discuss with an accountant (cause you’ll have to declare your income and pay taxes).


    I visited China on “M” category visa for two times,unfortunately i need to extend my stay to 26 days for two times.
    Now i applied for Multiple entry visa from Chinese embassy-New Delhi (India),three times they have rejected stating that “Can not confirm purpose of visiting China”.I want to know when i again should apply, is there any time frame to resubmit the visa application,if i again submit whether they will accept or reject?

    Please help.

  14. Leah says

    We have all the documentation to apply for our z visa, but we need a health screening. The form says to go to a public hospital, but public hospitals we contacted don’t know anything about it. Any advice from someone who has been through the process? Thanks in advance!

    • Furio Fu says

      Hi, are you still in your country or already in China? If this is the screening BEFORE applying for the VISA then you need blood examinations (in order to exclude sickness such as AIDS, Hepatitis and so on) and Chest X-Ray (in order to exclude tuberculosis). You shall also go to your doctor and get a general screening: basically he shall visit you and sign a document (you can download it from the website of the Chinese Consular Office in your country)

  15. Dmitry says

    Hi Furio,
    I would like to seek for your advice. Soon I’ll have to leave China due to the expiration of the extention of my L visa (L type 60 days + extention of L 30 days = 90 days) and leave my wife alone. We tried to do dependency visa but due to unknown reasons her eymployer is not supportive.
    So, I am planning to go to HK… but there is a question:
    What type of visa I can apply for that will grant me another month or so and will be surely given? The reason I need this particular number is because I am expecting a job that offeres Z visa.
    P.S. Could you attach the list of docs for the particular types of visa you might suggest?
    Thank you so much!

  16. Ghida Ruzz says

    Hello :)
    I would like to ask which visa do I apply if I am going to China to do an internship (where my home university has sent me) in Beijing.
    I need something that does not take time since I should be traveling in 2 weeks.
    First they told me i needed JW202, but then since im not applying to “study”; im applying for an internship (for 6 months). Now, i got informed i need a government invitation ?? I have requested it from the hosting company, but I am not sure I understood which form this is. How long does it take for the hosting company to obtain such a document?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Furio Fu says


      it depends on the company and on its relationship with the local government. I don’t think 2 weeks is enough time. Also, if you do a M visa instead of a Z visa a letter of invitation from the company may be enough. You shall ask them.

  17. jesse says

    I am leaving China on the 27th August as my L visa expires on the 30th August. I am going to Italy. I have an Irish passport. Can I can a Chinese visa while in Italy to come back to China or does it have to be the country that issued my passport – Ireland?

    • Sborto Zhou says

      Theoretically you should go where your residence is, said that, it is possible that having a EU passport they may allow you to apply in an other EU country but it’s difficult.

  18. Fahan says


    I am staying in shenzhen on Q1 visa at the moment but now i have got an offer from a company work as an international trader for them. My question is how can i transfer my Q1 visa to Z visa? As i have got 2 years residence permit and i have my wife and kids and both of them are chinese by nationality and we are living in china. Do i need to go back to my country to get the Z visa ?


    • Furio Fu says

      It’s not easy,

      but you may get it without going back to your country as somebody did it last summer (see comments on this thread). I believe it will depend on a) your nationality b) the relationship between your firm and the local immigration officiers.

  19. Mary says

    I will apply for z visa here in the Philippines. I already have invitation letter and employment permit. Im wondering if i aply for single entry, can i go out and enter again in shanghai? Since i will only aply for single entry of z visa?
    Thank you.

    • Christian says

      Hi, Mary,
      It makes sense to enter once on the Z-visa, then apply for the Temporary Residency Permit (as is required within 15-30 days). As a USA citizen with a China Temporary Residency Permit, I was able to enter and exit many times. I can not confirm, however, that this is also true for Filipinos.

    • Sborto Zhou says

      You can go out from Shanghai if you don’t go outside mainland China. If you go to Hong Kong, Macao or an other country you will lose your visa.

  20. Fahan says


    I am holding Q1 VISA for 2 years at the moment but i want to go to Hongkong for traveling .. is it possible for me to get Hongkong visa from shenzhen as i am permanently living in china..and how long the it will take to get a Honkong tourist visa if i apply from shenzhen?

    Thanx :)

    • Christian says

      Mary, I wish you the best of luck. Also thanks to Sborto Zhou and his colleague FF. They are two dudes who I hope to meet in person sometime.

      I forgot to mention that I know many Filipino(a) men and women on a “Stuent visa (X1 or X2)” who are also allowed to come and go. Most like to go home for Christmas or Chinese New Year, and they don’t have to apply for any documentation to do so. This is because they have the “Temporary Residency Permit” that I mentioned in my last post.

  21. Jason says

    I am a US citizen of non-chinese descent, married to a Chinese national with US green card and currently holding a Q1 2-year multi-entry visa. We have lived in the US for seven years, traveling back to China for 3-4 weeks annually for pleasure and family reunion. I have never worked in China to date.

    It seems I will go to Shanghai for business with my current company on a 90-day trip, and possibly extended another 90 days. It seems my employer (having entities in US and China) should apply for a Z visa for me. My Q1 visa still has a year and change left on it. Will my Q1 visa be canceled?

    • Jason says

      To clarify: My employment will remain with the US company and I will be paid in US dollars at my US home bank account. And I double checked, it’s a Q2 visa I hold now. I will train Chinese peers and support their adoption of shared technology. Does this actually count as “working” in China if no Chinese employer has me on their payroll? Should I use a different visa than Z type? And will my existing family Q2 visa be canceled?

      • Furio Fu says

        Hi Jason,

        1) you can only hold a VISA, so yes, if you change visa the old one will be canceled.

        2) If you are paid by a US company then I don’t think you need a Z visa because, technically, you aren’t working for a Chinese company nor you get paid in China. Most luckily you need a business visa.

        3) I don’t think you can legally do it on a Q visa.

        • Furio Fu says

          Let me explain this a bit better:

          A Z (work) visa is required if a foreign national has a labor relationship with a PRC work unit. In addition, a foreigner with a foreign labor contract and foreign source of remuneration will need a Z (work) visa if engaged in work-like activities for 3 months or more.

          So it looks like you may need a Z VISA, unless you follow under this case: “not including foreign engineers and technicians and experts implementing a technology transfer agreement” (which accordingly to your comment could be your situation, it’s not so clear to me).

          • Jason says

            To follow up, I submitted an M work visa application along with my passport bearing my existing Q2 90-day multi-entry visa. The application was returned by the San Francisco consulate with a verbal statement to the visa agency that I already hold a valid visa so they didn’t need to issue me a new one, and they did not collect the visa application fee either. Just in case this turned out to not be true, I carried all of the documentation about my visa attempt with me to China, and upon entering Shanghai customs I checked “business” on my entry/exit form and submitted my passport with the Q2 visa. The customs officer stamped my passport without batting an eye and let me in.

  22. Jo says

    Guys in guangzhou is still possible to get a 1 year business visa , 90 days stay, multiple entrance. Just got mine this week! :-D
    As far as I know they just issue 14 days visa in Hong Kong …it’s getting tough live in china without a proper employment :-(

    • kristina says


      i would really appreciate if you find time to respond in my complicated question :D
      im planning to go to shenzhen on tourist visa. and then i was thinking to get a business visa in HK. but since everybody is saying that in Hk is very hard to get a business visa, or even to extend L visa, i was wondering would it be possible to get my business visa in guangzhou*(i would be staying in shenzhen)? if yes, can you please name the agency or the place where you got it. and how much did it cost.
      thank you in advance and sorry for my english.
      if anyone else knows beside JO, please feel free to comment.

        • kristina says


          it is not possible for me to get a working visa, first because i come from Montenegro, and obviously i am not a native speaker. and second, my ba degree does not have to do with english at all. that is why i am looking for other options.

          I wanted to inform you what I found out (I hope they are not lying), the business visas will not be issued in the next 14 days (minimum), because of the ongoing goverment session about visas, and they are waiting for the answer what will be the conditions to obtaing the business visa.

        • kristina says

          somehow im not finding anything in this post that says FBT (mentioned in the post)!
          could you please be more specific. i might have gone blind and confused from reading 100 blogs daily about china and chinese visas lol.
          thank you in advance

  23. Aga Kahn says


    I have been accepted into Nottingham University Ningbo China, however they have a non refundable deposit fee of 10,000 which I have to pay in order to be issued a JW202 form for X1 Visa. I would like to know what are the chances of getting a student visa for China for a Pakistani national?, considering we have good ties with China in terms of trade etc….My only concern is If the visa gets rejected I will lose a lot of money.

    • Furio Fu says

      Hi Aga,

      generally speaking, if you have the original letter of invitation and you are able to pass the medical examination, you shall be fine. Then I’m not from Pakistan so I don’t know much about your specific situation

  24. Donnie says

    Hello. Ur thread has been really helpful. I am an American on tourist visa and recently found a job who wi be giving me a z visa. However I have a few questions. 1st. Is it possible to apply in Hk? I read another post that said it is possible if your company specifies that it will be applied in Hk? Or maybe if I use an agent?

    2nd. Is it possible to send my documents abroad while staying in Hk as i don’t want to book the ticket during peak travel seasons.

    If u have any information that would help, it would be appreciated greatly. Thanks a lot


    • Furio Fu says

      1. Sometimes it’s possible to apply in Hong Kong. However it depends on many factors such as who is hiring you, where they are hiring you (regulations in Shanghai may be different than regulations in Beijing) and what is your nationality

      2. What kind of documents you want to send? I don’t understand this question

  25. Tutuz says

    hello everyone.
    I’m applying a business F visa in my country (i hold an Indonesian Passport). I have the invitation letter with the complete details of the company such as address, signature, name, financial cover etc. When i went to the Visa Center, they found it pretty rare to apply for this type of visa so they require another documents :
    1. Invitation Letter in Chinese Language
    2. A scan of Inviter’s ID (shenfenzheng)
    3. China Company Business License (they ask for the real one to be sent by post and a scan of it while waiting the mail delivered)
    4. A letter from local company which i work for.
    I told china company to provide these docs and he said this case is rare too bc he has never experience this, like they usually just provide invitation letter. Anyway i managed to provide those docs except Business License bc china company refused to give me that and its impossible to send the actual license by post. Then visa center tell me they can’t grant me the visa if i can’t provide the license and they said my type of visa is supposed to be M visa not F visa because i’m going for business purpose. I tried to explain to them that i can’t provide the license and my purpose of visit is not for trading, but they’re so hard to deal with. They give me another time to provide the complete documents, until now they’re still waiting for me. There’s hope though.
    Does anybody ever experience this case? What kind of documents usually need to provide when applying F visa except invitation letter?
    also, as you said it is possible to apply visa in HK, would it be easier if i go to HK and apply from there?
    Any suggestion would be much appreciated. :)

  26. Kristin says

    Is it possible to renew my student visa by having a friend take my passport to the psb or hire a visa service company, even though I am out of China?

    • Furio Fu says

      You can’t renew an X visa. You can only renew your resident permit, as far as I know.

      I’m not sure if it’s possible without being physically in China. I never heard of anybody doing this and I don’t think it’s allowed.

      • Kristin says

        yes i meant the residence permit from the student visa. ive never heard of it either, but i havent been able to find anything that says its not possible.

  27. Narelle says

    How far in advance can you extend your Z visa/residence permit? Mine runs out in May but I’m planning on leaving China for 3 months from the beginning of March, whilst I am on maternity leave. My visa would have run out before I will get back.
    Do you know if it is possible to either a. extend my Z visa before I leave China in March, b. somehow do it from the UK? or even c. FedEx my passport back to my office in China in early May so they can do they extension for me :/

    Be great if you could help me find a solution to this problem!

    • Furio Fu says

      Hi Narelle,

      I’m afraid you can’t do so: you can’t renew it before it expires (well, maybe 2 days before, but certainly not 2 months) and you can’t let it expires or you’ll need to start over again. The only solution is to be in China around the period of expiration

  28. Susan Lee says

    I will be traveling to Tibet, Kathmandu and Bhutan via Chengdu as a tourist. I know on the China visa application not to mention Tibet. Should I just say staying Chengdu overnight than flying to Kathmandu? What kind of documentation might the consulate ask for? I am US citizen.

  29. Susan Lee says

    I have an agent and will ask the question. I was wondering if anyone have had any experience so we know what to expect.

  30. BS.RAWAT says

    Hi, I am from India and my age is 39. One of a agent advised me to go to China through Study Visa and learn Chinese for 1 year. And told me that I can work there during my studies. Can anybody tell me whether I can get part time or full time job over there and how many hrs a day. Being a fresher/I don’t know chinese how much money normally I can earn in a month?

    • Furio Fu says


      if you get a X1 student VISA (1 year) you can legally work part-time as long as the University gives you the permit. I have no idea of your skills so I can’t tell you how much money you can make! It really depends on the job

  31. BS.RAWAT says

    One more question i really want to ask if you please help!

    agent tole me that after spending 6 month I can get some business visa from China to Australia easily. As I have already made a try from India(PR) but didn’t get success ! . 1 of my friend is in Australia..and want me to be there with him!

      • BS.RAWAG says

        Hi, I already discussed you earlier. Need more help please!

        Actually, I have got a study visa from india to china for language course-chines.

        Consultant told me to go there and while language studies I can do the part time.

        As I am HR professional and have around 4-6 yrs of experience in HR/Admin but in India.

        So, could you please tell me what kind of job I can get in China while study.

        As I am coming there for 1 year Chines course in SINGYANG.

        Please guide me would it be a good step for me. As I want to settle down in China only, later.


        • Furio Fu says

          Nobody can tell you “what job you can get”. Just look for job offers and send your CV to the one you are interested on.

        • Sborto Zhou says

          The type of part time job you can get while studying depend on the university or school you are studying.

  32. Aneta says

    Dear Furio,

    I am supposed to go for an internship to China. I was told that it is quite common, that interns apply for visa F or M. First, I got a job by AIESEC and I was supposed to work in Langfang (close to Beijing) in a 5* hotel. There was a problem that the HR couldnt manage me an Invitation letter of duly authorized unit. The police told her its too long for business (6 months).

    Now I am applying for internship in Shenzhen, also a 5* hotel. Do you think there might be the same problem? I am from the Czech republic and 2 of my friends are already interns in China with visa F and M. We have quite good relations, I would say, with China. I only need to know if you think there will be further problems or if the regulations are not going to be so strict, due to international enviroment of Shenzhen.

    Thank you for your answer!


  33. Daweilaoshi says

    Dear Furio,

    Do you happen to know how much money a Chinese employer must pay the Chinese government in order to get the “Working Permit from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, P.R.C.” that I will send in when/if I apply for my Z visa so I can legally work in the country?

    My reason for asking: last week I received the Working Permit (and my invitation letter) from China. However, due to an unexpected family situation I might not be able to go. I want to offer to reimburse my tentative employer, who is also a close personal friend, for at least part of his expenses if things do not work out.

  34. Adri says

    Advice for a Colombian national having trouble renewing a year-long M visa to work in China.
    Seems Hong Kong isn’t issuing visas past 30, 90 days.

    Is it true it’s easier to go outside of the country (say Cambodia) and apply at a Chinese consulate there rather than in Hong Kong


    • Furio Fu says


      I think Hong Kong it’s your best bet. Call/Email Forever Bright Travel Agency and see what they say to you

  35. Anet says

    Dear Furio,

    Is it true that there has been some policy changes since March 2015 about visas to China? Because I need the Invitation letter of duly authorized unit to apply for visa F/M, but my HR told me that the new policy says that only company can apply for this letter, not individuals.

    Is that so?
    And if yes, what do you think I should do? Im about to have an internship but I apply for visa without dully invitation letter.


    • Furio Fu says

      Hi Anet,

      I don’t think this is a new policy; as far as I know it has always be this way: if you want a business VISA, a company shall invite you!

      • Anet says

        Really? Maybe I wrote it wrong.. I meant that I should be employeed in a company and that the chinese company has to invite the company in my country, not me as an individual.. Is it still the same?

        I think it should be, right??

        Thank you so much for your answer!

        • Furio Fu says

          Yes, this could be possible. You shall call the Chinese consular office in your country to see what they accept

  36. Susan Schamp says

    I am a British citizen living in China. I don’t work at the moment and so am included on my husband’s Z-visa. In August I will start work and so need to get my own work permit (Z-visa). Do I have to go to the UK to apply for this or can I make this change in China?

    • Furio Fu says

      Hello Susan,

      the law states that you have to go back to UK. However, we heard of many people that were able to get their Z VISA in Hong Kong. It seems that the way they managed to do so was to have a Letter of Invitation that clearly states that they would apply in Hong Kong.

      However, be aware that there are no guarantee that you’ll also be able to get a Z VISA in HK. The safest way is to go back to UK

  37. Tami says

    Hi all,
    I am currently staying in China with M visa /coordinating some issues with the local office of our company – not paid / employed by the local office/, my visas are valid for 30 days only, I need to stay in Shanghai for 2 more months – local police refused to extend my visas. I am wondering, is going to Hong Kong and requesting the Travel visa the solution? Or what would you suggest? exp. is in 2 weeks.

    appreciate your help !

    • Furio Fu says


      going to Hong Kong and requesting an M or L visa could work, but it’s not sure you’ll get it. My advice is to get an invitation letter form your company and ask for an M visa.

  38. hly says

    Hi, I have business M visa already but due to some changes I will not be able to go to China within the dates given. If the visa is not used will it affect me next time when I apply for china visa?

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