The new Chinese visa regulations rolled out on the 1st of July 2013 and are aimed at imposing stricter penalties on foreigners working illegally in China. Thankfully for the rest of us this means that additional visa types have been created which facilitate foreigners in more ways than before.
It goes without saying that any foreigner wishing to visit China whether for work or pleasure is required to obtain a visa. There are four types of Chinese visas: diplomatic visa, courtesy visa, service visa and ordinary visa. When visiting china for business what kind of visa will you need? Visas for China are divided into four categories: courtesy, diplomatic, service and ordinary visas. In business we will be concerned with ordinary visas, which have had four additional categories added.
- M Visa- Issued for business/commerical visits
- R Visa- Issued for highly skilled foreign professional stays and visits
- Q Visa- Issued for family reunions and foreigners visiting Chinese citizen (Q1) & permanent residents (Q2)
- S Visa- Issued for private visits such as divorce, inheritance, adoption, marriage, or medical services
If coming to China on business then suffice to say you should be applying for an M visa. An M visa application will require an invitation letter issued by a Chinese business or trading partner. It is subdivided into a short term (no more than 180 days stay in China) and long term (longer and including 180 days stay in China). This can be increased as a visa extension 30 days at a time. Along with this if you are planning to work in Beijing you will also need a clean criminal record in the form of a non-criminal certificate from your home country. These are easily obtained from your home country’s police department for a small fee.
For all types of visas you will be required to make an appointment in your local visa centre. Before the appointment you are required to print and fill out an application form (from the website) and bring this to the visa office with a 2x2 square inch sized photograph attached. You will also need to bring your passport with at least 6 months left before renewal time and two blank pages for the visa with a photocopy of your information page along with a copy of your previous Chinese visas.
The processing time for a Chinese visa is around 4 days and they also offer an ‘express’ option which has a 3 day processing time but there is an extra cost for this service. The fee can be paid upon collection of the passport. You should apply around 1 month before departure date to avoid visa expiry. At the moment there is very little easily accessible information on the new visas and it is best to contact your visa office for further clarification. The UK’s Chinese embassy (along with the visa service centre) still hasn’t updated its visa pages and the new changes have been in action for a month. It seems that China is just testing the waters with the new visas.
For more information on the new visas check out these sites: