Topic: You can help updating on China visa situation
24 Changes You Need to Know About
Below, we've compiled everything we've learned into 24 changes you need to know about.
Keep the comments and questions about Chinese visa requirements coming, and check back here for more updates.
1. No more L or F visa extensions after July 1st, 2008 (not even 30 days)
"Under normal circumstances, most passport holders could get extensions for 30 days simply by paying a fee. Extensions and visas valid up to July 1 can be obtained, not beyond. This is what I have been told by 3 visa agents in Beijing," writes a user on the LP Thorntree "Visa Sticky" thread). Reports are generally saying that after June 30th there will be no more visa extensions. If you arrive after 1 July, you will only get 30 days with no option of extensions until some time in fall. "Interns and short-term project workers are required to apply for a Z visa if an uninterrupted stay in China is required," reports the Beijinger.
2. Nationalities that cannot apply for visas in Hong Kong or Macau
As long as your country is not on the following list, you are still eligible to apply fro a China visa in Hong Kong or Macau. If you are on this list, you have to go back to your home country to apply for a visa: Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Bangladesh ,Congo, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Libya, South Africa, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Syria. Kosovo passport holders have also reported problems. Let us know if a country not on this list is also proving problematic.
3. F Visas issued in China no longer renewed in China
Only F visas issued outside of China (not including Shenzhen or Zhuhai) can be extended within China. F visas issued within China cannot be extended. In such cases, you must go to Hong Kong, Macau or another country to extend. If you have to make a quick trip to Hong Kong or Macau, we hope you manage to squeeze in some fun!
4. F and L visas good for only 30 days
If you want to stay in China for over 30 days, you need to apply for a Z work visa. Both F and L visas have been reduced to 30 days.
5. No switching visa types between L and F
You can no longer change your visa type from L to F or vice versa.
6. New documentation required to apply for a tourist (L) visa:
Technically, you must provide:
A copy of your hotel bookings valid from the day you arrive to the day you leave or a letter if invitation from a friend or family member who you plan to stay with for the duration of your stay in China with all their contact details including their passport or ID number (if you can provide photocopies of their ID documents this could be helpful).
A copy of a return flight ticket booking (you can book and cancel your flight for a limited fee). See Apple Travel for details. Call (+86-592) 5053122.
A valid passport with plenty for extra pages, valid for at least 6 months.
One recent passport photo.
A Visa Notification Form issued by the relevant department of Chinese government or a government-authorized company.
A letter from your employer stating that you'll be on vacation between your arrival and departure, as stated on your airline ticket.
A bank statement with a minimum of US $3,000. Alternately, you can choose to show cash equivalent to US$700, if you do not show your financial statement.
Those last the two might be optional, but reports suggest that you should be prepared to provide all of the above documentation. To be safe, check ahead and be prepared!
7. Visa prices have gone up
Visa prices have almost doubled, depending on visa type and resident country. Check with the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for details.
8. Use the China Travel Service (CTS) for Hong Kong and Macau
People recommend that if you go to Hong Kong to renew your visa you use the China Travel Service (CTS) to sort out your visa rather than the Commissioner's Office. There are about 40 CTS branches in Hong Kong (only one in Macau). The visa hotline number for the CTS is 852-2315-7188. You can only get a China visa on the same day in Hong Kong if you go to the CTS branch in Tsim Sha Tsui (1/F Alpha House, 27-33 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsu, Kowloon, open 9am-7pm weekdays, 9am-5pm Saturday).
9. Rules for getting a Z visa
If you are working in China without a work (Z) visa, it's time to get one. To get a Z visa, you must be employed by a registered company, undergo medical tests, be graduated for two years, provide letters that you and have worked for several companies before working in China. The main thing they are looking for in granting Z visas is that you are a specialist in your field and very much needed by your company for a position that could not be filled locally. Getting a Z visa generally takes 4-6 weeks. Many companies will apply for working visas on an employee's behalf.
10. Expect to wait in line. Queue up early!
The lineups at the visa offices are nasty. Get there two hours before they open and you might only have to wait two hours to be seen. The old "rush services" that once provided same-day visa services are no longer guaranteed. If you go to Hong Kong, book in for at least two nights. Lots of people are reporting that it takes four days now.
11. Businesspeople calling for visa clarification
Businesspeople are calling for further clarification of visa requirements for visiting the mainland after the central government confirmed that all travelers must apply for a visa from the country they live in. The Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents was last night unable to explain why the ministry's advice conflicted with a letter it issued to travel agents last week stating that only nationals from 33 countries could no longer apply for a mainland visa within Hong Kong, unless they were identity-card holders.
12. No more short-stop visas for Shenzhen
The short-stop visa for Shenzhen no longer exists. Immigration offices at the border stopped issuing short-stay visas to Shenzhen on April 1.
13. Carry your passport at all times
By law, all foreigners are to have their passports on them at all times. More and more people are being stopped and asked for credentials. If you are not carrying your passport, they will be happy to follow you home to get it. If you are in country and wish to have a complete list of do's & don'ts for foreigners, most big-city police stations will be happy to provide you with an English-language booklet detailing Chinese legalr regulations.
14. No more multiple-entry China visas issued
Multiple entry visas have been suspended indefinitely. China Law Blog suggests, this could be a permanent change. However, multiple-entry visas that have not expired are still valid. Now only 30-day single or double-entry visas are being issued and some expats are having to go back to their home country to get visas.
15. Unlikely to be able to extending your student X visa after July
Student X visas for the summer months are only issued by a very limited number of universities and language schools. It's best to check with your institution, and the sooner the better. According to the Dutch website De Gele Draak, The Dutch embassy in Beijing has just released a message to Dutch citizens confirming the rumor that students won't be able to renew their student visa in China unless they go back to their hometown. Even if their visa expires in July and they must return in September to resume their studies, they are not permitted to extend their visas for the summer. Also the Dutch Embassy has found out that visas of foreign students who are already in China for study and whose visa will expire shortly are not being extended over the summer period. People involved will have to leave the country and have to apply abroad to get a visa for the next semester.
16. Traveling overland, you still need a flight ticket to get a visa
Ruth, of the LP Thorntree forum states, "Currently the issuing of visas requires proof of transport into and out of the country which effectively makes overland travel impossible unless you purchase fully refundable tickets through a travel agency." Several travelers have reported purchasing, then canceling, tickets as an easy work-around (to be pursued at your own risk, of course). A quick and easy way to go is Ctrip.com, which charges 200 RMB to cancel online flight bookings. If you want to book a flight from Hong Kong with Ctrip, you need to phone the 24 hour, English-speaking call service at: 86-021-34064880 Ext. 6.
17. The penalties for overstaying your visa
If you overstay your visa, you could be detained and fined, even on your way out. You will also face problems trying to check into a hotel with an expired visa. They will likely call the police, who might detain you, fine you, and extradite you. Foreigners overstaying their visas are charged 500 RMB per day (with a ceiling of 5k), the Beijinger reports. "According to multiple reports, foreigners without a valid visa must expect to be awarded the red 'has to leave China within ten days' stamp in their passport, which will make it nearly impossible to apply for a new visa." And if you don't pay up, you will not be allowed to leave the country until you do. Some foreigners have ended up in jail for 40 days for overstaying their visas.
18. How do double-entry visas work these days?
If you plan on going from mainland China to Hong Kong and back to mainland China as part of your overall trip to China, you need a double-entry L visa. Because you can no longer get multiple entry visas, double is the best you can get. With a double entry visa, each entry of 30 days must occur within 90 days of the day your visa is issued. For example, let's say your visa is issued on April 1 and is good for 90 days. The first entry can be any time but the second entry must be before then end of the 90 days, which would be June 29. Double-entry visas do not permit you to stay in the country for 60 days. You must leave by day 30 or extend, and to use the second 30 days you must leave the country and reenter to start the second 30 days. Multiple-entry visas have been suspended until October. But multiple-entry visas that have not expired are still valid. Now only 30-day single or double-entry visas are being issued.
19. Extending Z visas and spouse visas is not a problem and not affected by the new rules
China Law Blog reports that, "New Z visas and spouse visas have not been affected by the new policies. However, dependent visa that were previously also issued to non-married couples with children now require the provision of a marriage certificate."
20. Extending Your Z Visa from one of the 33 "Unrenewable" countries
Of the 33 nationalities that cannot apply for visas in Hong Kong or Macau, keep in mind that this does not affect your ability to extend your Z visa. So even if you are from Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Bangladesh ,Congo, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Libya, South Africa, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Mauritania, Saudi Arab, Sierra Leone, Syria: you can still extend your Z visa for a year or more. Generally, your company will take care of this without you even needing to go to Hong Kong. Just make sure your company looks into it a month before your visa expires.
21. Extending a multiple-entry L visa while married to a Chinese national
"For those married to a Chinese national and not on a Z visa but on a multi-entry one year L (used for family reunification purposes), expect no problems", says a commenter on China Law Blog. "I am not working in China and permitted to stay as long as I want to stay with my family. Marriage certificate and proof of stay (home-ownership or lease) is all that was needed." Keep in mind that while they are not issuing multiple-entry L visas any more, if you were issued one in the past, it is still valid until it expires.
22. When should I apply for my visa from my home country?
You can apply for a Chinese visa up to 90 days in advance of entry.
23. Going to Hong Kong to switch from an L or F visa to a Z visa
It's no problem still to go from an L or F visa to a Z visa on a Hong Kong visa run. Just make sure you have all the proper paperwork and you can have it within 24 hours. If you want to stay in China for over 30 days, you need to apply for a Z work visa. Both F and L visas have been reduced to 30 days. BUT, you can still get double-entry
24. Don't forget to register at the police station if you're not staying at a hotel
If you are staying anywhere other than a hotel (with friends or family) and have any intention of renewing your visa, you need to register at the police station within a week of your arrival. Bring your passport, two copies of your passport, two copies of the lease for the residence you're staying at and someone to interpret if your Chinese is poor (or at least a mobile with a number you can call for interpreting assistance). Keep the pink form they give you. You won't be able to renew your visa without it!
As this information changes almost every day, check back with us regularly. And check out our Passport & Visa forum for the latest information from China travelers like you.
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