A Chinese visa is an officially approved document issued by authorized bodies of the Chinese government, in accordance with China's laws and regulations, for foreign citizens to enter, leave or transit through China. Most foreign citizens need to obtain a visa when entering China unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries.
Chinese visas are divided into four types, including diplomatic visas, courtesy visas, service visas (including official visas) and ordinary visas. And the ordinary visas can be further classified into the following 12 categories.
These are issued to those who intend to go to China with the purposes of touring and sightseeing. Proof of travel arrangements such as a flight confirmation and hotel reservation are required. Single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visas are all available for tourists. The duration of stay (each visit) is normally 30-60 days.
These are issued to foreign crew members of aircraft, trains, ships or vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transportation activities, and their accompanying family members.
3Permanent Residence Visa (D)
These are issued to foreigners for the purpose of permanently residing in China.
This had been used as business visa before the M visa was introduced. The F visa is issued for noncommercial visits. It is for those who intend to go to China for research, lecturing, scientific work, cultural exchange and study tours. It is normally issued as a single or double-entry visa only. The duration of stay (each visit) is normally 30-90 days.
This visa costs the same and has the same requirements as the Tourist Visa.
These are issued to those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities. The M Visa is usually issued for single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visits. The M visa can be issued for up to 10 years. The duration of stay (each visit) is normally 30-60 days based on particular Chinese Consulate.
7Family Visa (Q1, Long Term)
These visas are for ethnic Chinese or foreigners who are the spouses of Chinese citizens. They are issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or foreigners with Chinese permanent residence status, and intend to go to China for family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.
Family Visa (Q2, Short Term)
These are issued to ethnic Chinese or foreigners who are spouses of Chinese citizens. It is issued to those with the intention of visiting their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent resident status in China. The intended duration of stay in China is normally granted for up to 120 days per visit.
8Private Visa (S1, Long Term)
These are issued to those who intend to go to China to live with an immediate family member working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private affairs. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.
Private Visa (S2, Short Term)
It is issued to those who intend to visit their family members who are foreigners working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private matters such as visiting friends, divorce, inheritance, adoption, marriage or medical services. The intended duration of stay in China is normally granted as 30 - 90 days per visit. Proof of kinship is required for visiting family members. An S2 visa is usually issued for multiple-entries.
The Study Visa is issued to those who have been admitted by a Chinese college. This visa is divided into two categories: X1 and X2. The X1 category is issued to foreign students who come to China for study for more than 6 months. The X2 category is issued to those who come to China with the same purpose, but for a period of less than six months. The X2 visa is issued for single-entry only. An X1 visa can be issued for multiple-entry with a validity of up to five years.
These are issued to those who have obtained employment in China. A government issued work permit or employment license is required. A Z visa is issued for single-entry only. Holders of a Z Visa, shall, within 30 days from the date of entry, register and apply for a residence permit at their local Public Security Bureau (police station). A Z visa is also issued to people on business trips in China.
11Long-term Journalist Visa (J1)
These are issued to resident foreign journalists of foreign news organizations stationed in China. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.
Short-term Journalist Visa (J2)
These are issued to foreign journalists travelling to China for a visit with a duration of less than 180 days.
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