Study Visas (X1 & X2) for China – The Complete Guide

Study visa for China

What is an X visa?

One of the main reasons that motivates many people to apply for a Chinese visa, besides tourism or work, is to study abroad. Thanks to the policy of spreading Chinese culture abroad (for example, through the Confucius Institutes spread all over the world or through numerous graduate courses dedicated to Oriental languages), more and more young people have chosen to study Chinese language and culture.

As with any language, the best way to learn is onsite, and for this reason a specific type of visa has been arranged. A study visa (or X visa) is issued, in fact for those who intend to study at a Chinese university, a private firm or something similar.

What’s the difference between the X1 and X2 visas?

The X visa is divided into two subcategories based on the length of stay. The X1 visa is issued to those who intend on staying in China for a period of study longer than 180 days (6 months), while the X2 visa is issued to those who plan on staying in China for a period of study less than 180 days.

What documents do I need to get a X1 and X2 visa?

  • An original passport valid for more than 6 months and at least two free pages open for visas;
  • A copy of the first page of your passport with your biographical information and photo;
  • A recent color passport photo (48 mm x 33 mm) of your entire face, front view with a light background;
  • The original admission letter from the Chinese university;
  • A copy of the admission letter issued by the Chinese university;
  • The JW201 or JW202 certificate from the Chinese Ministry of Education (recently obligatory just for the X1 visa);
  • A copy of the JW201 or JW202 certificate;
  • Airline ticket (return, for X2 visas);
  • A copy of the “Form for Visa Application for the People’s Republic of China” completely filled out and signed.

The following documents are available on the site CVASC (China Visa Application Service Center) or the Chinese Emabassy in US. Along with the documents cited above, It might also be necessary some additional documents depending on the place you apply for your visa:

  • The Privacy declaration form for the Chinese visa center;
  • The self declaration of countries visited (since 01/01/2015).

It requires turning in the following documents, and in certain cases as specified below:

  • A residence permit (for those who apply for a visa application in a different country than the one to which they belong): in this case you need to present – besides all the other documents – your work/study permit (the original and a photocopy) issued by the local authorities;
  • Previous Chinese passport or Chinese visa (for those with previous Chinese citizenship and current citizenship in another country): if it’s the first time that you’re applying for a Chinese visa, it is necessary to present your previous original Chinese passport and a copy of the first page with all your personal data and the photo. If you’ve already gotten a Chinese visa in the past you’ll need to present a copy of the page with your personal data and photo of your non-Chinese passport and a copy of the Chinese visa, (N.B. If the name on the new passport is different than the one on your old passport, you’ll need to present an original notarized form of the name change).

Where can I apply for an X1 or X2 visa?

In US you can apply for a Chinese visa at the Chinese embassy or consulate (see complete list here), for UK, Canada, Australia and European countries you should apply the visa at one of the several CVASC (China Visa Application Service Center), here you can search for the closest to you.

If you can’t apply for a visa in person, the procedure can also be handled by someone you know on the condition that you fill out the specific section at the bottom of the application form.

If for any reason you don’t want, or can’t get to the CVASC or consulate in person (and have nobody you can ask to go for you), you can use an agency (which obviously incurs a supplementary cost). In that case you’ll have to send your passport (and the other necessary documents) to the agency and they’ll take care of everything.

Click here to apply for a visa service through an agency

What’s the duration of the X1 and X2 visas and how many entries can I get?

For type X2 visas, generally, any agency issues a visa for just one entry valid for 3 months starting from the date of issue and lasts a maximum of 180 days (6 months). The exact length will in fact be calculated on the basis of your air ticket (the date of entry and exit from China) that will follow the indications contained on the admission letter sent by the Chinese university.

The type X1, instead, has a duration of 30 days from entering China and during this type you’ll need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit, which will have a duration equal to the entire period of study for a maximum of 5 years. Generally this type of permit allows for multiple entries and, in this case, you can enter and exit China at your pleasure for the entire length of stay (when issued during the first 30 days of your stay in China).

How can I apply for a residence permit for a X1 visa?

When you come to China with a X1 visa you’re obligated to submit to a series of medical visits, usually organized on prearranged days by the hosting university. You’ll receive all the necessary information in the package sent by the university containing the admission letter or during days dedicated to university registration.

When you get your certificate of good health (usually a few days are needed to get the report from the doctors), you can go to a Chinese police station or an immigration office (generally indicated by the hosting university), where you’ll turn in your passport to start the process (as a substitute to the passport turned in to the authorities, you’ll be issued a temporary certificate of the same value).

Once the procedure is complete, you’ll be given back your passport and receive a Temporary Residence Permit (with multiple entries) for the length of your studies.

Note that these procedures must be done within 30 days of arriving in China (or within the valid period of the visa issued in your country of residence). If you go beyond this expiration you’ll be sanctioned with very high fines!

Can I renew a X visa in China?

Generally, yes. If you decide to stay at the same university for another semester you’ll need to report to the office for international students. They will take care of filling out all the necessary documents for extending your visa for another semester of study.

Otherwise, the application would be submitted to the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Administration Office (公安局出入境管理处), an office where the extension application form will be available whenever you want to apply to the university at least 7 days before the visa expires. The timelines will vary from area to area, between 5 business days and two weeks.

You’ll need to provide a passport, a copy of the first page of your passport with your personal data and the visa page with which you entered China, a passport photo, an extension application (sometimes they’ll also need another admission letter from the hosting university or similar documentation) and a Registration Form of Temporary Residence (you’ll also just need a pink slip issued by any hostel or hotel that shows registration of your lodging recognized by the government for the nights of your visa extension).

How much do X1 and X2 visas cost?

If you apply for a visa in US, the embassy fees are the following:

  • Single entry (valid up to three months): 140 USD (30 USD if you aren’t a US national);
  • Double entry (valid between three and six months): 140 USD (45 USD if you aren’t a US national);
  • Multiple entry (valid for six months): 140 USD (60 USD if you aren’t a US national);
  • Multiple entry (valid for twelve months): 140 USD (90 USD if you aren’t a US national);
  • Express service supplement (within two to three business days): 25 USD;
  • Rush service supplement (same day): 37 USD.

The price of the visa depends on your country of residence, also in some countries you’ll need the mediation of the CVASC, so you’ll have to other service fees that vary on the basis of the urgency of the request, for example for the UK:

Embassy fees:

  • Single entry (valid up to three months): 151 GBP;
  • Double entry (valid between three and six months): 151 GBP;
  • Multiple entry (valid for six months): 151 GBP;
  • Multiple entry (valid for twelve months): 151 GBP;
  • Express service supplement (within two and three business days): 31 GBP;

CVASC fees:

  • Normal service (returned on the fourth business day): 66 GBP (VAT included);
  • Express service (returned on the third business day): 78 GBP (VAT included);

For a normal process visa, the cost is 217 GBP.

If you don’t personally apply for a visa, you can do so through an agency, and in that case you’ll have to pay for shipping the passports and documents through a courier.

If instead you decide to extend your visa while in China, renewal fees vary from area to area and from case to case. According to the most recent information, for the majority of the nationalities that require a visa extension at the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Administration Office, the cost is around 160 CNY. For citizens of the United States the cost is 760 CNY, while for British citizens the cost is 469 CNY.

How can I read X1 and X2 visas?

  • Category: type of visa (X1 or X2);
  • Entries: number of entries allowed (01, 02 or M, the last one indicates multiple entries);
  • Enter before: validity of the visa (XX-XX-XXXX);
  • Duration of each stay: length of stay for each entry (XX days after entry). If for a X1 visa, a type of visa that requires a transformation into a Residence Permit, you’ll see the writing “000”, since you’ll have to change it into a residence permit within 30 days of entering the country;
  • Issue date: date of issue (XX-XX-XXXX);
  • Issued at: place of issue;
  • Full name: name of the person holding the visa which is often reported in abbreviated form (the name of Mr. Mario Rossi, for example, could be listed as M. Rossi). In any event, the full name is always listed on the last two lines of the visa text, called the “reading code”);
  • Birth date: date of birth (XX-XX-XXXX);
  • Passport number: passport number (XXXXXX).

Can I work in China with an X visa?

If you have a study visa (X1 or X2) you cannot carry out any work activity unless you receive special permission from the university. In the majority of cases though, you won’t be able to work with that type of visa, or face severe monetary sanctions.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons License VISA for entry into China by Heidi Strean

17 thoughts on “Study Visas (X1 & X2) for China – The Complete Guide”

  1. We have a student who will apply for X1 visa for one university (one year) as an exchange student. But actually he hopes to transfer to a second university after one semester. Would it be easier for him to apply for the X1 visa then just change university, or to do a X2 and then get an extension through the second university? Thank you. By the way, your website is very informative.

  2. I am a student in China but currently on x2 Visa which I have renewed and can nolonger renew it anymore coz it doesn’t exceed 1 year. But when I contacted my university to change and put me on x1 they said the government hasn’t issued them a stamp for the Jw forms and yet I need close to 3 weeks to start the process before my visa expires what shd I do so that I don’t over stay ?

  3. If someone had been previously in China studying under an X1 visa, but was no longer in China studying, would they still able to use the X1 visa to go back to China to visit short-term (less than 30 days), or would they need to apply for a tourist visa? (this is under the assumption that their resident permit is expired, but their X1 visa is still valid and allows multiple entries)

  4. quick question – when the residence permit is received, does it cancel the validity of the original multiple entry visa?

      1. Hi, Your website is really helpful. I want to file an extension on my X1 visa to study an additional semester or 3 months. How soon should I file my extension? Is the process longer if I choose to go with a different school?

        1. I suggest to apply at least one week before the visa expires, but it would be better if you get all the documents needed much before.
          A 3 months extension should be a X2 visa, so the requirements should be similar for both schools.

    1. Getting an X1 visa is usually very difficult once you are in China, you can get either a X2 or directly a resident permit (but this can also be pretty difficult)

      1. I also have the same question, I’m working here in China , but I decided to get a 1 year language course , is it possible to get an X visa ? My visa expires in the end of June but the term will begin in September

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