China Again Suspends Entry of Foreigners, Cites COVID-19 Risk

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By Fuki Fu, Human Resources Administration and Payroll Services, Dezan Shira & Associates‘ Shanghai Office

China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry of non-Chinese nationals from a series of countries, according to their Chinese embassies, including Bangladesh, Belgium, Ethiopia, France, India, Italy, Philippines, Russia, the UK, and Ukraine. Those who will not be allowed entry into China include Chinese visa and/or residence permit holders, even if they were still valid at the time of the Chinese embassies’ announcements.

The respective Chinese Embassy and Consulates will no longer issue Certified Health Declaration Forms for such travelers.

However, entry by non-Chinese nationals with visas issued after the announcement dates will not be affected by the latest travel ban.

Who are affected by China’s latest travel suspension?

  • Foreign nationals who hold valid visas
  • Foreign nationals who hold valid residence permit of work
  • Foreign nationals who hold valid permit for family reunion
  • Foreign nationals who hold valid permit personal matters

But, as has been the case always – entry by holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas will still be allowed.

Foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for visas at their Chinese Embassy or Consulates.

Navigating China’s travel ban policy

In September, China announced it will allow entry by foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits of three categories – permits for work, personal matters, and reunion.

While some foreigners were successfully able to enter China from 0 a.m., September 28, 2020, many others are still waiting to find their way back to China – complicated by several factors like limited international flight schedules, closed borders in various countries, family affairs, etc.

Now, just weeks after China relaxed its initial international travel ban – its authorities have withdrawn the policy as a necessary precaution in combatting the pandemic situation and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within its own borders. Several countries around the world appear to be in the middle of another wave of new coronavirus outbreaks or have been unable to stabilize the local spread of infection.

At a press briefing yesterday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin termed this a reasonable and legitimate move and said China has adjusted its measures learning from other countries’ practices. He further said, the Chinese embassies in relevant countries will publish timely notices in accordance with the evolving situation, hinting that other countries may get affected soon. But it could also mean that the Chinese government could reopen the border if the situation turns better.

Citing the current COVID-19 situation, the embassies said the suspension is a temporary response and will be assessed in accordance with the evolving situation. Any adjustments will be announced accordingly.

For foreigners who are stuck outside China, they will still have opportunities to enter China, as the notice indicated that “foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for visas at Chinese Embassy or Consulates”; foreigners can apply for the special visas via a PU letter issued by the Chinese government. For foreigners in China with a temporary visa (for example, temporary M-visa) that is near to the expiration date, seeking a new Chinese employer to apply for the work permit and residence permit is a good strategy to stay in the country.


About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com

We also maintain offices assisting foreign investors in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines, MalaysiaThailand, United States, and Italy, in addition to our practices in India and Russia and our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative.