China Releases Final Draft of New Visa and Residence Permit Regulations for Foreigners

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Jul. 25 – The Chinese government released the “Administrative Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners (Order No.637 of State Council, hereinafter referred to as ‘Regulations’)” on July 22, which updates the current visa system and introduces several changes to the application of the residence permit.

The Regulations will take effect on September 1, 2013, with the previous administrative regulations on the entry and exit of foreigners scheduled to be abolished concurrently. Detailed information can be found below.

Changes to Current Visa System
The Regulations have increased the number of visa categories from 8 to 12, and have brought the following changes to the current visa system:

Introduction of the R visa
One of the distinct features of the Regulations is the introduction of the R visa, which aims at attracting global talents that the country urgently needs.

The R visa applies to senior-level foreign talents and professionals whose skills are urgently needed in China. Applicants for the R visa need to satisfy the requirements stipulated by the relevant competent authorities and must provide relevant documentation.

Introduction of ‘family reunion’ visas
Currently, foreigners with an L visa may come to the country for tourism, family reunions or personal affairs. As this visa category doesn’t precisely correspond to the purpose of these various types of visits, the Regulations have limited the L visa to tourism purposes only and, at the same time, the Regulations introduce two “family reunion” visas – the Q visa and the S visa.

The Q visa is created in response to calls by overseas Chinese for improved exit and entry procedures, and will be issued to overseas Chinese visiting relatives in the country. The S visa will be issued to the relatives of foreign residents coming to China for family reunions.

Dividing F visa into F visa and M visa 
Under the current visa system, the F visa is applicable to foreign citizens who come to China for commercial and non-commercial purposes including business activities, scientific and culture exchanges, short-term study and internships. After the Regulations take effect, the F visa will only be issued to foreign visitors coming to China for non-commercial purposes, such as cultural exchanges and inspections. Meanwhile, a separate M visa will be added and will be issued to foreigners coming for business and trade purposes.

Splitting the X visa
The Regulations have divided the current X student visa into the X-1 visa and the X-2 visa, with the X-1 visa applying to foreigners coming to China for a long-term study period (greater than 180 days) while the X-2 visa applies to foreigners coming to China for a short-term study period (less than or equal to 180 days).

Visa System after September 1, 2013

Based on one’s purpose of entry, the Regulations have provided for the following 12 types of visas:

C Visa

  • Applicable to train attendants, air crew members and seamen operating international services, and to their accompanying family members

D Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who are to reside permanently in China

F Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who come to China for exchanges, visits and inspections

G Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who transit through China

J Visa

  • J-1 Visa: Applicable to resident foreign journalists in China (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • J-2 Visa: Applicable to foreign journalists who make short trips to China for reporting tasks (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)

L Visa

  • Applicable to overseas tourists (those traveling with tour groups can be issued a group L Visa)

M Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who come to China for business or commercial activities

Q Visa

  • Q-1 Visa: Applicable to foreigners who apply for entry into China for family reunification with Chinese relatives or foreigners with permanent residency in China, as well as to those who need to visit China for adoption issues (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • Q-2 Visa: Applicable to foreigners who come to China for a temporary visit to Chinese citizens or foreigners with permanent residency in China (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)

R Visa

  • Applicable to senior-level foreign talents and foreign nationals whose special skills are urgently needed in China

S Visa

  • S-1 Visa: Applicable to spouses, parents, parents-in-law and children under 18 years old of foreigners who stay in China for study or working purposes, and to foreigners who need to reside in China for other personal reasons (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • S-2 Visa: Applicable to family members of foreigners who stay in China for study or working purposes, and to foreigners who need to reside in China for other personal reasons (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)

X Visa

  • X-1 visa is applicable to foreigners who come to China for a long-term study period (more than 180 days)
  • X-2 visa is applicable to foreigners who come to China for a short-term study period (less than or equal to 180 days)

Z Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who apply to work in China

Changes to the Application of Residence Permits

Types of residence permits
The Regulations have categorized residence permits into the following five types:

  • Working residence permits
  • Study residence permits
  • Journalist residence permits
  • Family reunion residence permits
  • Personal affair residence permits

Processing time of residence permits
Currently, foreigners holding a D visa, Z visa, X visa and J-1 visa must obtain a residence permit within 30 days upon entry. The processing period for applications of the permit is 5 business days upon the receipt of the application. However, the processing period has been extended to 15 calendar days under the Regulations.

Biometric information
Foreigners who apply for residence permits should submit their passports (or other travel documents) along with photos and other supporting documents to the local exit and entry administration authority above the county level, and shall provide fingerprints and other human biometric information at the same time.

Health certificate
Foreign nationals shall provide a health certificate when applying for a residence permit that is valid for more than one year, and such certificates are valid for six months from the date of issuance.

Strengthening Supervision and Management

Information verification
According to the Regulations, financial, educational, medical and telecommunications institutions can verify foreigners’ identities with the exit-entry administration authorities when necessary.

Obligation to report
The Regulations provide that relevant entities must report to the local entry and exit  administrative authorities if the foreign nationals employed by them have left their jobs, changed work locations, or if the overseas students enrolled by them have left.

Restriction over internships and part-time jobs
It has been provided in the Regulations for the first time that if foreigners holding study residence permits need to take part-time jobs or internships outside the campus, they shall obtain approval from their academic institutions and apply for a residence permit with an annotation of location and term of the part-time employment or internship from the entry and exit administrative authorities.

Foreigners whose study residence permits are not annotated with the information mentioned above are not allowed to take part-time jobs or internships outside the campus.

Defining Illegal Residence
The Regulations also address the illegal entry, stay and employment of foreigners and have defined the “illegal stay of foreigners” as the following:

  • Foreigners who stay and reside in the country beyond the duration of stay stipulated on the visa, stay or residence permit;
  • Foreigners who are admitted into China without a visa and have stayed beyond the allowed stay duration without obtaining a stay or residence permit;
  • Foreigners who travel and stay outside of the allowed stay or residence area; and
  • Other illegal stay situations.

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85 thoughts on “China Releases Final Draft of New Visa and Residence Permit Regulations for Foreigners

    Matt says:

    Hi what visa should interns come under if they will not be studying at a university and up to how long can they get a visa for?

    ryan madu says:

    Am married to a chinese with 2 kids! I have 1 year residence can I work with it? Do I need to fingerprint next time I go for extension?

    @Matt – getting internships is very difficult in China now, and there is no specific visa category for them. The guideline is you need two years work experience before being able to receive a work permit. Otherwise if you have an existing student visa you could use that, or obtain a business visa and use that. But if you are caught essentially working for s company under these there could be repercussions.

    @Ryan – If you have a spousal visa you cannot work on that – but you can change it to a work visa if you get a job. Yes you may get fingerprinted in China, it is common.

    Best regards – Chris

    Joe Francisco says:

    I am currently working as a teacher in China. I am planning to take my family and stay with me for a couple of years. We are almost done preparing their document for tourist visa and my employer planned to help me change their visa into residence visas, but because of the new visa regulation (S visa), we don’t know if it is still possible for them to come to China and live with me. Now my questions are: What are the requirements for the S-1 visa and how long can it be process? Thanks and hoping for your quick response.

    @Joe, These regulations have just been introduced and haven’t officially come into effect yet, so it’s hard to say what the exact requirements are. The best source of these information is the relevant authority that issues them, in this case the embassies and consulates (they will issue the visa) as well as the local Public Security Bureau (they will issue the resident permits).

    Your employer should be able to gather these information from the PSB and maybe your family can inquire with the embassy or consulate in your home country. If you let me know where in China you are employed, we can support you in gathering this information.
    Best regards – Chris

    Emmy says:

    Hi, I’m planning on going to China this fall (already bought the flight ticket) to study at a language school for 3 months. However, the school told me that I cannot get a student visa through them. What visa should I apply for to legally study at the language school? Is it illegal to study at a language school if you do not have a Student visa? I need to apply in the next couple of days and I’m starting to panic!

    @Emmy, you should really have a student visa but I think if three months only a tourist visa should also be OK. – Chris

    Joris Encrow says:

    Hello Chris, I heard there will be also z1 and z2 visas categories, why isn’t it mentionned in the articles?

    Hopefully Z1 visas are more easy to get and doesn’t require 2 years post experience which could allow young expats to get paid internships more easily.

    @Joris: The separation of the Z visa into Z1 and Z2 was originally mentioned in an earlier draft of the new visa regulations; however this was eventually left off of the final draft that has now taken effect from September 1. There are no Z1 and Z2 categories at this present time. Hope that clarifies the issue. – Chris

    Gary says:

    Hi Chris,

    My Chinese fiance and I plan to marry at the end of September (we’re just waiting on my CNI). I have just read about the new S-1 visa and we’re curious to know if I qualify?

    My fiance is pregnant and we are expecting our baby in December and I’m currently on an L visa which will expire on the 4th of October.
    May I ask if it would be possible to apply for the new S-1 visa in Hong Kong?

    Many thanks,

    @Gary: You’d normally need to apply for these visas from your home country. Hong Kong can issue tourist and business visas for foreign nationals, but for anything else the Chinese Embassy in the country where your passport was issued will need to get involved. – Chris

    lenny says:

    Hi Chris,

    I heard that in order to get a 6 month or longer business visa the new rule now says that within the past two years you have to had gotten at least 2 30 day business visas before. Is this true?


    @Lenny – I’ve not heard that one, no. But they do change regulations from time to time and also depending upon your nationality. I’d check with your countries China Embassy website under “consular services”. The Chinese do a good job of explaining visa rules and regulations on their Embassy sites. Whatever that says is how it is. – Best wishes – Chris

    Alan Mon says:


    I am going to Beijing for a 6 month internship. However the embassy didn’t give me an F visa which I thought I’d be needing, they gave me a tourist visa because apparently they suspended the F visa (in Mexico)! I’m really going through lots of stress because I know that the L visa can be extended for up to 30 more days once in China, once. Does anybody know what a solution for this could be? Thanks!

    Cool says:

    Hi sir,I don’t know where i fall in the categories of visas rolled out by this government. I have been in China for 11 years now, married to a Chinese girl and have a daughter. I was at the exit-entry administrative bureau to investigate the visa I need to work to feed my family,yet I was surprised the immigration woman on the counter was very biased towards foreigners and even didn’t know their china’s visa laws well.

    It is true, we eat to live, not live to eat but no one can live without eating since our bodies are hungry type. What is the Chinese government dodging or shying away by not making it clear as crystal to foreigners who marry Chinese girls to work? my wife and i thought the Chinese government is being cruel to their own people.why? everywhere on this earth,wherever you go,once you marry and become part of that community, you are entitled to work to feed your immediate dependents. what is so horrible and horrendous in china for their government not allowing foreigners married to their own people to work?

    Lastly, what are the procedures for me to meet face-to-face with President Xi jin ping? i want to meet the President and ask him what have we done such that we those of us married to Chinese girls are not permitted to permanently stay and work in his china.
    it is real horrible thing marrying in this county though

    @Alan Mon: You’ll need to discuss this with the Chinese Embassy in Mexico City. I’m sure your L visa will suffice.

    @Cool: Without being privy to your complete background in China it is hard to say why the Immigration authorities have been tough. There is usually a reason. I will see Chinese President Xi Jinping at the annual APEC meeting next month. If I get the chance to ask him a question I will raise the difficulties over obtaining visas for foreigners married to Chinese women, or at least one of the Chinese party who will be attending. If I am able to do that I will email you their response. OK? – Chris

    dirk says:

    I’m in China now on a tourist visa which will soon expire. As my wife and children are Hong Kongese and go to school here I think I should apply for an S-1 visa. Does someone know if I can get this in China, or where in Hong Kong?

    Irene says:

    Hi Chris

    I came to China with a z visa in June and started to work at a college. I have
    asked my employer to apply for a residency permit, shortly after I arrived. He
    said that he would apply. I therefore accepted that he would take care of the
    documents needed for a teacher to live and work in China legally.

    I have asked him more than once about the permits and he said that he would
    look into it, but he never did and I did not know what to do. He does not seem
    to care about the legalities of foreigners teaching in China. The other teachers
    employed by the college do not have residency permits and some even work
    on tourist visas.

    As a result, I have been in China for three months and do not have a residency permit.
    I have given notice, as I do not want to work illegally.

    What can I do about this situation?

    @Irene – Unfortunately we hear this many times when it comes to English teachers and these schools. They are avoiding paying your tax and other contributions. Meanwhile you are in fact working illegally. There is little you can do except grin and bear it and see out your contract, or leave. I think the chances of you being caught working illegally are slim. The situation is not ideal I must admit but very common in China. Unless all the affected teachers went to a lawyer to complain – which would mean you’d all lose your jobs, but the school would probably close – there’s not a great deal you can do. My advise is bear with it until your contract expires, or just leave. They are in breach of China’s labor laws through not arranging your visas correctly and can be fined. Best I can do I’m afraid. Chris

    @Dirk – You need to ask the local Chinese immigration bureau about this. There will be one in your city. They can clarify the matter for you, however I suspect you may need to apply at the Chinese Embassy in your country of origin. But follow what the local immigration officers say. – Chris

    Bakary says:

    Hi Chris,

    I have been awarded a 6-month, multiple entry F visa, to complete an internship in Shanghai. On the visa, there is a 30 day limit per entry. When I saw it, I told the people at the embassy that it would not work as I needed to spend the full 6 months in shanghai. I was replied that the visa was just a formality to get me in China and that I would have to get a residency permit once I got there.
    However at the local office for visas, I was told it was not possible. Now I don’t know what to do. Isn’t there some kind of temporary residency permit I can apply to while in China for the length of my internship? What happens if I stay for over 30 days?



    @Bakary – there is no “intern visa” and you need a job to apply for a residents permit. Internships don’t count. You will need to exit China every 30 days as per the terms of your visa. If you don’t they can fine you up to RMB500 for every day you overstay and you may not be granted another visa after that. – Chris

    Thomas Carola says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am here with my girlfriend on a student visa with resident permit. While I go on with my studies she doesn’t want to be studying anymore. My girlfriend was supposed to get a business visa from a company that finally walked off on us and now her residency permit expires on Sunday and we still don’t know what to do to let her stay three more months. Would you be able to help us find the best way to deal with the situation?

    Thank you

    Abin Sebastian says:

    How about changing job? My Z Visa is renewed last month, and got a better offer at the same time. Can I change my Work permit to the new employer without cancelling Z Visa?

    Nolan says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve read all your previous responses to people’s questions, thank you for taking the time! My question is about the F or now M visa.

    1. At one point in the past, a 90-day stay was possible. Recently only 60 has been possible. 1 year has always seemed to be the length of the visa. Any changes on this that you are aware of?

    2. I’ve heard conflicting answers on what restraints there are to doing business in China with a F/M visa vs. a Z or residence permit. Specifically in regards to the validity of contracts signed by someone on a F/M visa. Are you aware of what the law says about this and any other restrictions in doing business while in China on an F/M?

    Thank you for the time and expertise!

    @Thomas: We don’t deal with visa issues. I suggest you go to the nearest Immigration Bureau and talk with them. If her visa expires she needs to leave.

    @Abin Sebastian: Your employer has the right to cancel the work visa issued. You should apply for a new one through your new employer.

    @Nolan: There is some ambiguity about Point 1. Concerning Point2, their visa status is not necessarily linked to their ability to sign contracts. Generally speaking though contracts should be signed by the Legally Responsible Person (their name will appear on the company business license) and chopped off by the official company seal.

    Best wishes – Chris

    natalia says:

    what about 2 weeks visas with 人道 on them? how to get a new chinese visa after this one?

    @Natalia: Foreigners will be issued a 2 weeks visa with ‘人道’on it after their Residence Permit has expired. The status means the individual must leave China within 2 weeks. For the application of a new visa, foreign individuals must go back to their own country and apply for a new one.
    Best wishes – Chris

    Phil says:


    I was wondering if you knew the answer to this one. I’m a 25 yr old business owner in China. I need to renew my visa by the start if November. If I am the owner, investor and legal representative of a wholly foreign owned enterprise, do I apply for the D visa, M visa or Z visa? I don’t work for myself… I just own the business.

    Thanks in advance

    sajo says:

    I am a Pakistani student over here in China for three years, and have my wife and two kids living with me as a family. Every time I went for visa extension of my family they give them an extension of three months. But from now they say they have changed their visa policy according to which my wife and children have to go back to our country and apply for the new type of visa according to china visa policy? Is this true, does my family really have to go back? AND what if a child is born in china but definitely not a Chinese national, does he have to go to his country too for visa renewal.

    Simon Grimshaw says:


    I am a british national living in the UK who is visiting a British national in shanghai who has an employment visa and is about to apply for a residence visa today or tomorrow. The Chinese consuluate in the uk will not process my wife and I’s tourist visa until they have either my friend’s residence permit or a receipt saying that it will be issued if he doesn’t have it yet. Can anyone confirm if there is such a receipt? We need to get this sorted as we are due to fly on the 18th October!

    @Phil – If you are just travelling to China on business trips but will not be working there an “M” (business) visa will suffice.

    @Sajo – You need to do what ever the Chinese Immigration Bureau advise in this case, and that may well mean returning back to Pakistan and applying for your China visas there. However they will confirm the situation so I recommend visiting them for clarity.

    @Simon Grimshaw – That is an unusual request for a tourist visa application. However your friend should be given a receipt either for his passport or the permit fee payable when he applies for that, so yes, there will be some documentary proof. You should ask him for a copy and submit as part of your application.

    Best wishes – Chris

    Renny says:

    Hi there, I just wanted to make a comment. As you said there is not intern visa anymore. My case was this. I graduated in Toronto, Canada, recently and got an internship (unpaid) in Shanghai. I was told in the Toronto embassy that F visa was suspended. Then, Back home (Venezuela) I went to the embassy and they gave me the visa without problem. I just got a single entry visa for 120 days. I am just wondering at this stage (I am leaving in five days) if once I am there I will need any residence permit or my F visa will be suffice for the 120 days. Thanks.

    @Renny – if you have a valid visa then the Chinese will honor it. You won’t need a residence permit for 120 days. – Chris

    Hafiz says:

    Hi, This is Hafiz
    I’m a Pakistani national and living in china since 2010 with my Chinese wife on “L” visa, during this period of time i have been visited my country for several times. last time i got 180 days “L” visa from Chines embassy in Pakistan which will expire by the end of February 2014.
    I want to know that,
    Does my current visa effected by new Chinese visa policy?
    What visa do i need to apply according to the new visa policy?
    Do i need to submit any financial security to immigration for extension my visa?


    @Hafiz – China will honor your current visa. However when you come to renew it the new regulations will apply. I’d check with the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan for clarification on the issues you raise. – Chris

    Hafiz says:

    Thank you very much Chris. D for your kind answer.

    Markus says:

    Dear Chris,

    I´ve read through all these posts and your answers (great that you´re taking time to respond to each and everyone!).
    So I´m on a M-Visa in China (1 year, multiple entry). At the end of the year I will have spent more than 200 days in China, so I was planning to pay income tax of course. Now I was told, once I would pay income tax the authorities would realize that I´m working in China and I would need a working visa for that. Actually our company is really having so many projects in China, that I´m indeed on site inspection all over the country, and not just working in some office. And as I´m planning to pay income tax it´s obvious that I don´t want to evade any taxes. So, does the M-Visa now really have to be changed into some working visa (which in fact wouldn´t be possible either, as I´m lacking a few months for the two-years work experience). Quite a complicated case as you see or am I just overthinking things? So do you think that having an M-Visa and paying income tax because altogether I´ve been longer than 183 days in China is okay?
    Sorry for this long text! : )

    Best, Markus

    Markus says:

    Adding one more detail: I used to have an F-visa until September (until this time I had spent altogether 3,5 months in China, not continously!). And since September 16 I´ve been on an M-visa.

    Ming says:

    Hi Chris,

    I just got to shanghai for an internship (without studying any courses) and was granted an X2 visa for 120 days. I’ve gone to the local police station to register my address. However, am I still required to go to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau tomorrow to apply for a residence permit?
    If so, may I know what are the documents required of me?

    I only have tomorrow to do so as my internship starts
    Monday and won’t be having any days off.

    I greatly appreciate your valuable feedback.

    Thank you.

    @Markus: You can pay tax in China without a work visa. In fact under your circumstances I would suggest that is appropriate. It would be done on a pro-rata basis on the number of days you’ve actually been in China. You can ask your company to arrange to do that for you at one of the main offices you work at, or we can assist. However it think it is wise to get that paid. You will get a tax paid receipt and it avoids any questions later concerning visa renewals. If you need help email at and I’ll put you in touch with the relevant person in our firm. As an example, I don’t live in China anymore but I still pay IIT on the number of days when I am there, even on what is now a business visa. It’s just better that way.

    @Ming: Usually just your passport will suffice but take any other supporting documents you may have – rent contract, anything like that. The PSB are actually quite helpful when they know you want to comply.

    Best wishes

    John says:

    Hi Chris,

    I arived in Shanghai to work for a global auto company in September 2011. The company arranged my Residence Visa and Work Permit for three years (expire late September 2014). I turn 60 in May 2014.
    I have a friend who arrived when he was 63 and worked in China until he was 64+, and got his 1 year permits renewed without any problems. He decided to return to his home country late last year of his own accord.
    I was not aware of any age requirements until this week, and I was intending to work here until 65. Has the process changed/tightened up with the new regs? What are the options and process for me to get another three years (minimum)?

    I appreciate any advice or help.
    Thank you, John.

    @John: If the foreigner is the legal representative or deputy chairman of the board of a company, there won’t be any issues regarding age in applying for an extension of the work visa. If the foreigner is not in such position, the extension of the work visa will depend on the extension of his work permit. Chinese regulation stipulates that generally work permit will only be issued to foreign males below age of 60 and foreign females below age of 55 since these are the ages for retirement in China. Therefore the entry and exit bureau usually don’t issue work visa to male applicants over 60 years old because they don’t have work permit.

    However, in practice, it is still possible for foreigners who have passed the age limitation to extend their work permit as long as they could get a “statement of condition” provided by their employers in Shanghai. The employer should explain why the employment needs to be extended, how long it needs to be extended, and other required information by Shanghai Employment Center for Foreigners. The application process for extension of work permit should be initiated 30 days before the expiration date of the current work permit. The applicant should submit the state of condition, application form and other required documents to Shanghai Employment Center for Foreigners.

    Here is the webpage (in Chinese) which explains the application process:;jsessionid=B15601E5E4A80A40E4C13C629434B0E6?method=viewPage&issueId=904

    Once an extended work permit is obtained, there should not be any problems to get the 3-year visa renewed.
    Best wishes

    John says:

    Hi Chris,

    I appreciate your very helpful advice – much appreciated.


    Raluca says:

    Hi Chris

    I would need some advice from you..
    I am a teacher in Bj on a working visa and with resident permit which expires on the 14th of november and my company is dealing with renewing it these days for another year,although my contract with them ends on the 10th of december and after this I am going to my country for 2 month..I will change the school when I come back,but I want to sign the contract with the new company before leaving home..
    So what would be the procedure? How is the new school going to take over my visa?
    I hope it’s not as complicated as it sounds 🙂
    Would appreciate some help
    Thank you

    Peter says:

    Hello Chris,

    I’ve been in Shanghai for two months, and I will stay here until next July. I’m studying at the University and have a residence permit for study. I plan to start an internship next semester–in March. So I would need the approval of the PSB, but as said in your article, the framework to ask for the approval is not yet published. Do you have any recommendation how I should proceed with this?
    I’m also curious how you see the probability of controls of my company (Western-European) which would affect me.

    Thank you!

    Claudio says:

    Hello Chris

    Is it necessary to apply for a Q visa in my country? I am currently living in China, married to a chinese woman for over 2 years now. I have always got either tourist or business visas, but now because of the changes I want to apply for a Q visa instead.

    My question is: do you know if it is possible to apply for this type of visa (Q1 or Q2) while inside China or in Hong Kong?

    If it is not possible, and I have to go to the country of my citizenship, I have another doubt:

    I’ve got dual citizenship (Italian and Brazilian), so of course it would be cheaper and faster for me to go to Europe instead of South America. Do you know if I can apply for the Chinese visa in London, if I have an Italian passport (because of the EEU)? I have some issues to address there, and it would be easier to go to the Chinese Embassy in London instead of in Italy.

    Thanks a lot, you are really helping a lot of people.


    @Raluca: Your new employer should issue you with a new work visa. You shouldn’t be working for a company on a work visa for a different employer. So you need to discuss with your new employer concerning them issuing a new visa for you.

    @Peter: Shanghai is quite strict with interns, and the regulations aren’t out yet. I think discussing this with the company you are interning with is the best solution.

    @Claudio: You need to apply for an “S” visa or another business visa. I’d seek guidance from the local immigration bureau, as you are married to a Chinese national it may be possible to have that issued in China. Otherwise you will need to get it done in Italy.

    Hope that helps
    Best regards;

    Janson says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am married to a China citizen. We are currently living outside China but would like to move to Nanjing, China in the near future. When we move to Nanjing, my Chinese wife would like to open a cafe. 2 questions that I have:

    (1) What type of visa do I need to stay there for a longer term?
    (2) Am I able to work in the cafe under the visa that I am granted under (1)?

    Appreciate your kind assistance!


    Hafiz says:

    Hi friends!

    I have a question about Chinese “D” visa.

    can i do job in China as a normal Chines if i have Chinese “D” visa?


    If you just want to stay in china but do not work in the country, you can apply for any visa to enter china and then apply for the Relative Residence Permit. However, if you want to work in China, you have to obtain the Z visa first and then enter the country.

    The D visa is issued to foreign citizens who have been approved by Chinese authorities to reside in the country permanently. Once the foreign individual obtains the Foreign Permanent Residence Permit, his residence period in China has no time limit, and the Foreign Work Permit is not required when seeking employment in China.

    Best wishes

    Jean says:


    I got a job opportunity in China. My new employer told me to go back to my home country and to apply for a L visa, then to come back to China. They say that they will be able to change my L visa to a Z visa in China. Is it possible? Because I read everywhere that we must apply for the Z visa in our home country, so I have doubts.

    Thanks for your help!

    @Jean – For first-time employment in China, a foreigner must hold a Z visa to be allowed to work in China, otherwise the PSB will not issue a work permit to the foreigner. Z visa applications are only accepted at Chinese consulate in foreign countries. Therefore, even if you enter China with an L visa, in order to switch to Z visa and obtain the work permit, you need to leave the country and then come back with a Z visa. Although the regulation says only the Chinese consulate in your home country will process the application, I know some successful cases show that the Chinese Consulate in Hong Kong could also do the trick.

    Best wishes

    Phil says:

    Hi Ed,
    I would like to know answers to few questions :-
    1. My work visa is in the process of extension by my Employer and I have received a better job opportunity. Can the visa be renewed and transferred at this stage? Or its wiser to wait for the visa to get renewed first?
    2. I have been working in China since 4 years on Z visa. I would be marrying a Chinese girl here. Does that in anyway affect my Z visa and my ability to work here?

    Your answers are much appreciated,

    Sofia says:

    Hi Chris!
    My problem is this: I’m going to study a Jiaotong university, Shanghai from February 20th till June 27th. I bought the flight for December 7th, so over two months earlier than the beginning of my course. I applied also for the visa but they told me that I can’t have a visa valid for more than 150 days. I wonder why since the X1 visa last 180 days. Now the problem is that I have a flight booked for December but can’t have a student visa which lasts from December to beginning of July. Is it possible to apply for a tourist visa, which lasts 90 days, and then switch for an X1 visa while in Shanghai directly through Jiaotong University office? Do I have to leave China to do that or actually going back to my home country?
    I am really starting to panic, I need to know if I have to postpone my flight to February.
    Thank you very much
    – See more at:

    1) It is better not to resign at this stage since all the information provided for the extension is based on your current job. Also, the Entry and Exit Bureau requires foreigners to report to the bureau and apply for an alteration of residence permit within 10 days since their change of work status. It is better if you get the extension first and then apply for the alteration.
    2) No. You will still be on the same residence permit if you continue working in China.
    Best regards;

    @Sofia: The Chinese consulate decides what type of visa could be issued based on your specific situation. Because your period of study is only 4 to 5 months, they might think 150 days will be enough for you to finish your study. It all depends on the judgment of the visa officer, and the period of stay for an X1 visa is not necessarily 180 days.
    You might be able to get an extension for your student residence permit since you won’t be able to finish your study at the time your visa expires, however, it is impossible to be 100% sure about this. However we feel it unlikely they would not agree to a renewal based on your case.
    Kind regards;

    michael kristensen says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m a danish citizen, working for a danish shipping company.

    We have ordered several new building at a Chinese shipyard and I am appointed as project site manager for the new building.
    The building period is 3 years from today.
    How to apply for a z visa and working permit??
    I’m employed by my danish shipping company, and does therefore not have any “Chinese company” to be employed by.
    So why visa can I get.
    I will of cause pay my full tax etc here in china.
    Hope you might have some good advise.

    @Michael: You have to apply for the Z visa to enter China If you are currently outside the county. The Chinese embassy in Denmark is in charge of the issuance of the Z visa and you shall contact the embassy for more information:

    Best wishes

    oliver says:

    I am in mainland China and need to obtain a 6 month X2 visa for an internship. Is there any way of doing this without returning to England? I was born in UK and my passport was issued there. Can I go to hong kong to get this sorted out?

    @Oliver: If you want to apply for the X2 visa, you need to obtain relevant documents from the school proving you will be studying at the school for the specified period. You can file an application directly with the exit and entry bureau in China since you are already in the country. However, if your current visa will be expired before the application being approved, you need to go out of the country to apply for the visa. Generally speaking, You can to go to Hong Kong to get the X2 visa, we suggest you contact the authorities in Hong Kong for more detailed information.
    Best regards;

    hafiz says:


    I would like to ask about, if someonw has Z visa and wants to exchange on Q1,
    Is it possible to change without leave the China?


    Jana says:

    We might be moving to Shanghai with our 9months old baby at the beginning of Feb 2014 because of my husband work. We all will apply for residency permit. And I would like to know whether even our 9month old son has to have the health check up? It seems to me a lot to go through for 9months old baby. If its needed, would they accept if its done outside of China? Thank you, Jana

    nil says:

    hi ed.
    my husband is working in ningbo n now he wants his family to live with him in china.
    he lives with z visa n working in china since august it possible for him to live with his wife n child. n which visa should he apply to stay with his family.

    exasperated says:

    Like Cool (September 11 response, above), I am also married to a Chinese woman & have lived here for over 10 years. I have a spousal L visa–this is to be renewed shortly, & changed under the new law.

    My examination of the revised Immigration form indicates that I am required to tick the Q2 visa request. However, my reading of the regulations indicates that this is for those seeking short-terms stays of up to 180 days. Yet, the Q1 visa is for those who live here 180+ days per year.

    i) As written, I am concerned that I am actually going to be issued a _reduced_ duration visa (spousal L to Q2).

    Is my understanding correct?

    ii) The July Promulgation indicates that such a visa can be issued to someone in my situation for a period of up to 5 years, while other places I have read indicate 3 years. The Immigration Form has relevant sections for Q2 visa request only or residence permit only (family reunion).

    Does one request for the visa, or the permanent residency? And how to request the maxium?


    @ Hafiz: If your relatives are in China, you can apply with the exit and entry bureau directly for the relative residency permit. If such an application has been approved by the authority, you don’t have to leave the country.

    @Jana: Foreign individuals under 18 years old do not need to go through health checks. Your baby is therefore exempted which I am sure is a relief for you!

    @Nil: Yes, the wife and child can live with him on an S1 Visa. After entering the country, the wife and child should apply for a long-term residence permit.

    @Exasperated: You can apply for the Q2 visa now because the function of each visa has changed. The Q2 visa is for family members visiting now, instead of the L visa. You cannot apply for a Q1 visa because it is only applicable for applicants outside of China.
    ii) You should check the option for “residence permit only (family reunion),” and may apply for a longer-duration residence permit under the Q2 visa.

    Best wishes!

    graham says:

    Hi Ed,

    I am a UK citizen getting married in beijng at the end of jan 2014. My fiance has been told my date of birth should be on the CNI. There is no DOB on a UK CNI, it is only asked for when you apply but not on the document. Beijing registry office insist they have CNI’s from the UK with a DOB. any idea? I am also not sure what axactually i do next with the CNI, I think I aposrile but then? thanks for any comment

    @Graham: You may apply to the UK embassy in China for issuance of a Chinese version CNI.

    Best wishes

    Yulienne says:

    I am from Venezuela, currently living in Shenzhen. I got hired by a company and they are processing my Z Visa.
    Can I apply for work visa (Z) from here or do I have to go back to Venezuela?
    Many thanks!

    Matthew Zito says:

    @Yulienne – Please see Chris’ response to Jean on Nov 20, 2013 above.

    Best regards,

    Hafiz says:

    Currently if you have a valid Z visa on your passport then no need. But if you have other category visas then you have to go back and apply for a Z visa from your home country.

    Keriann says:

    My husband obtained our residence permits in Beijing. He works for a rep office in Beijing, but he is not living in Beijing. We are renting and apartment and living in another city in China. Every year we go to Beijing and stay in a residence apartment for one month while we renew our residence permits. If we get our residence permits in Beijing, are we allowed to not have a residence in Beijing and live in other cities in China? Or is this defined as illegal residence?

    ASZ says:

    Hello. I want to ask about rule and regulation of pregnant women travel to China. If the baby maturity is up to 6 @ 8 month. Is it okay to travel to China? Are there any law that not allowed pregnant woman travel to China. Up to how many month that is not allowed?



    Chloe says:

    Hi Chris,
    Currently i am faced with an issue. I am 7+ months pregnant amd have decided to give birth in china. I am told the hospital will issue me with the childs birth certificate but after that i am not to clear on the procedure. Will i have to first go get my childs birth recognized at my embassy then head to entry-exit bureau in the city i am registered in? Or do i go to the entry-exit bureau first? And what is the procedure after that and how long is the process? Will my child need to exit china and then re-enter or is is possible to get a residence permit whilst in china (without having to exit the country). My husband and i are both foreigners and are both students.
    I initially planned to go to hong kong with my newborn when the time comes and get her a chinese s2/s1 visa but apparently if you do not have a hk id they will turn you around and tell you to get the chinese visa at your own countrys chinese embassy. Was wondering if it was possible to get my childs chinese visa done in my country then mailed over to me… Its far fetched but i am trying to think of all options.

    MZ says:

    Hello. My wife stays in Dalian and i would like to enter China on a Q1 visa. Will i be able to open an office in the Dalian free trade zone on this visa? I am confused since i know i cannot work for any chinese company on a Q visa…but how about getting a trade license on my own name in the free zone? is it possible?

    Thanks and appreciate your feedback,

    mark says:

    for about 6000rmb, you can form your own company in Dalian,it takes about 4-6months,the person that does it will do all the ground work and running around. Once you have formed your own company,they will give you a working visa and residence visa, multiple re-entry etc,good for one year,and for about 400rmb a month he will do your taxes etc,

    LZ says:

    Hello. I currently hold a Q2 visa and am planning to study in China for 5 month. Will I be able to apply for a residence permit when I arrive or do I have to/can I apply for an X2 visa?

    Jani says:

    Mark: “for about 6000rmb, you can form your own company in Dalian ”

    This sounds like the cost that includes local business consultant and government fees for company registration.

    In many cities the Entry & Exit Administration requires foreign-invested company to have certain amount of registered capital (often around 300 000 RMB) before they grant work visa / residence permit to foreign owner or shareholder of the company.

    These days the rules for capital injection to new company are much looser than in the past – some company types require no capital investment at all, while others allow the investment to be paid over longer period. But this is just for the company registration.

    Entry & Exit may separately demand capital investment for visa purposes. If the company does not have registered capital to cover that, the foreign person may need to make personal bank deposit instead. I have been quoted the same 300 000 for this, in another city in China.

    brad waddell says:

    can you tell me for sure if china residence permit/working visa can
    now be issued for 10 years? i have been using the yearly one for 7
    years now and would really like to get a longer duration.
    any idea how to request a 10 year on these permits? my company does it
    but last year said they knew nothing about it. a government link to
    the rules in chinese would help me a lot – you can bill me for that if
    you can get it.

    tipu says:

    i have a study visa and just want to spend sometime don’t want study and go home until my visa will get expired so is this possible visa can be canceled online ???

    Mar Fin says:

    Is there 5-year limit on extending Residence permit in one Province? Is foreigner required to exit China after 5th year’s Residence permit extension in one Province?

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