The growing importance of China is reflected not only in the big number of Chinese companies, making big investments overseas, but also in the influx of foreign nationals into China. Chinese government is constantly reforming its visa regulations, as we already mentioned before – but now the changes are deeper.
New visa policy has been introduced by the National People Congress last June and recently came into force. Visitors to China should check the relevant information provided on the webpages of embassies and download the new application form. Before, there were fewer types of visas: L was for tourists, F for business people, Z for working personnel and X for students. The requirements for the former two were not severe, more documents were necessary to obtain the latter two.
From this year, everything will be slightly different. The most important change is the introduction of M and R type visas.
M visas are simply the new business visas (it substitutes old F visas). It is issued for people who travel to China on business trip or in order to participate in a trade fair. Necessary documents include: visa application, official invitation letter sent by the Chinese company (it should include all the information about the applicant).
R visas are a fine example of the new Chinese policy towards foreign workers: despite the fact that the control will be tightened, the most talented people may enjoy many privileges. According to China Daily, a R1 visa will come with residency rights, while a R2 visa will allow multiple entry and exits. Persons with R visa may stay in China for five years. It is still unclear, what are the requirements for this type of visa, but most likely the person must be an expert recognized by the provincial-level governments and above.
New F visa is aimed at people, who come to China to participate in cultural or scientific activities. It is necessary to provide visa application form and invitation letter (rules are the same as in the case of M visas).
A lot of the people may be interested in the regulations related with student visa X and worker visa Z. There are several changes; first of all, both categories were divided. Instead of the single Z visa, we have Z1 (long period of work, exceeding 90 days) and Z2 now (short period of work), as well as X1 and X2, respectively. As for the required documents, we can observe an important change: you no longer have to provide Foreigner Physical Examination Form before submitting visa documents. Visa application form, Admission Letter and Form JW201 or JW202 are enough. Your physical examination will be performed after entering China.
We should however point out, that if you participate in a particular scholarship programme, the requirements may include physical examination done before leaving your country. To clear things up, you should check it by the institution, which awards the scholarship.
Another new cathegory is Q visa. Persons, whose family members are Chinese citizens or foreign nationals with Chinese residence permit, may apply for Q visas in order to pay a visit to their family. “Family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law. Required documents include: application form, an invitation written by the Chinese citizen/foreign resident, copy of the citizen’s ID. In order to prove family ties, we should provide marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by Public Security Bureau or notarized certification of kinship.
The last new type of visa is S visa, issued for people, who want to pay a visit to their family members, studying/working in China. It enables them to stay in China for more than 180 days, which is the considerable advantage. Required documents include: application form and invitation (similar as in Q visa).
The requirements for the popular L visa don’t change. You still have to provide visa application form and the confirmation of the hotel reservation/flight booking.
The exact requirements may vary – for example some embassies accept application forms filled by hand, some don’t. Some may require you to submit the original documents, some are satisfied with a photocopy. Some offer “express” visas, some make you wait longer. There are various institutions and companies that facilitate the visa application process, among them the most reliable is governmental China Visa Application Service Center, operating in several countries across the world. Every Chinese embassy provides visa-related information on its webpage, mostly in “Visas” section.
The very useful and informative chart about the new visa regulations.