China Tightens Chief Representative Visa Policy

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July 8 – Over the last two months, China has tightened up its visa policies, drawing widespread concern from the business communities across China and in Hong Kong. Tourist visas now require round-trip air bookings and confirmed reservations at hotels in the destination city, students are having trouble obtaining visas to study in Beijing, and investors of all types have seen their F visa status weaken as round tripping to Hong Kong for renewal is now prohibited. The latest visa procedures to receive this tightening is the chief representative visa.

In the past, it was often common practice for a chief representative to arrive in China on an F visa, and then have their documentation and visa status changed in-country. According to the Public Security Bureau, that is no longer acceptable. Chief representatives must now obtain a Z visa in their home country before coming to China if they are a planning on residing in the country.

The procedure, and approximate time, for obtaining a visa as a chief representative is as follows (please note that these procedures do not apply to those from Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan):

a) Approval by Division of Exit and Entry Administration Department of Public Security in the city of residence (about 7 working days)

b) Apply for a Foreigner Employment License (about 5 working days)

c) Apply for a Z Visa Notice Form with the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (about 7 working days)

d) Apply for a Z visa with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the home country

e) Undergo a health check and apply for a temporary residence registration upon entry with Z visa (about 3 working days)

f) Take photos according to Public Security Bureau requirements

g) Apply for a Foreigner Employment Permit at Labor Bureau of the city of residence within 15 days after entry with Z visa (about 5 working days)

h) Apply for a residence permit at the Division of Exit and Entry Administration of Public Security of the city of residence and meet with an officer (about 7 working days)

21 thoughts on “China Tightens Chief Representative Visa Policy

    CFM says:

    Is Beijing insistent on driving more foreign business from China?

    Steve Weinkle says:

    I assume then, that none of this must apply if the Chief Representative resides in China for less than 30 days per entry?

    Tim says:

    Is there any regulation / notice announced regarding the subject matter? I am doing a search in Shanghai but found difficulties in figuring out the above procedures.

    Andy Scott says:

    Dear Steve,

    You are correct. The procedures listed above only apply to those chief representatives who need or want to reside in China long-term and therefore need a residence permit. If your business activities in China do not require you to stay long-term, then you do not need to follow the application procedure above.


    Andy Scott says:

    Dear Tim,

    The visa procedures for obtaining a residence visa as a chief representative haven’t changed, however, the rules are now being much more strictly enforced. You can find the rules (in Chinese) at the following website:


    Herman says:

    I have my resident permit since last year and will expire end of August.
    Should I have to follow this new procedures or I can renew it as last year procedures ?

    Andy Scott says:

    Dear Herman,

    The procedures above only apply to first-time residence permit seekers. If you currently have a residence permit, you will simply need to renew this before it expires (you will need to supply several documents and a couple of photos, but will not need to leave the country, nor take another medical exam).


    ABC says:

    Last week I received my residence permit from the entry & exit bureau in Beijing. We completed all the required steps in Beijing without needing to leave the country or return to my home country. My official position in the organization is the “fa ding dai biao ren” (legal representative). All of the paperwork was processed within the last 6 weeks and completed last week when I picked up my passport with residence permit stamp/sticker last week.

    Herman says:

    Dear Andy,

    Appreciate very much your kindly info, Iam going to renew it next week.
    Have anice day !

    With kind b’rgds,

    swapnil says:

    I holding a work permit and resident permit(1year) here last month from zhejiang province.
    i want call my wife to stay with me for long time .what is the new process for it ?
    please help me from start to end .Thank you

    Luigi says:

    I’ve just been notified that my Z visa – or rather my expert card is not renewed… and my current visa expires July 31st, that is in one week… I’m in dire straits. It will eventually be renewed, but the bureau is f—ing up right now. I’m going to be employed by a university in Beijing, that is absolutely sure. Can anyone give me advice? I heard one cannot get a L (tourist) visa in between 2 consecutive Z visas. Is it still possible to get something done from Macau or Hong kong, even if it means that I have to get a L before another Z? There are so many contradictory sources, and the regulations seem to change every so often…
    Thanks for your advice and comments.

    Wilson says:

    I heard a criminal background check is also now required, any one else heard this?

    PM says:

    I am UK Passport Holder resident in HK – what are the procedures for Z Visa for HK resident? – I have not resided in UK for nearly 30 years. I do not qualify for Permanent Resident HK until 2011.

    Varin says:

    i will be joining the office in Hangzhou as another representative (there is one chief representative), can someone guide me how to get the right visa for this??

    Mahesh says:


    I have Residence & Working Visa from Shenzhen. My wife was also having Residence Visa but this is expired recently as she was in India during renewal time. Now she need to get New Visa to come back to China.

    Would you please advice what is the procedure of getting New Residence Visa..? Can she get Residence Visa in India based on the legal docs we have viz. Working card, Alien Employment Permit, Marriage Certificate, Invitation from my Employee & my side etc..?

    Please advice if someone have some idea about it..?

    Thanks a lot in advance for the valuable info..?


    Mahesh says:

    Hi Swapnil,

    Do you get Residence Visa for your wife..?


    LOU says:

    If the passport is stamped/sticker with residence permit, would the passport still be stamped every time going through “check point” between HK and China?

    How to obtain a China Identity card for long term resident for Representative Office (RO)like HK ID card to go through check point of e-channel?

    Also where to go to apply for long-term residence permit in SZ? (from the Exit and Entry Department of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau)

    Pls advise Thanks

    Hello Lou,
    Yes a passport with a residence permit will be stamped at border crossings from Hong Kong to the mainland. Pls. contact our Shenzhen office at for more details on how to obtain a residence permit in the area.


    MAHBUB says:

    Hi There!
    Is the new Chief Representative’s Law regarding obtaining their Z visa from Native country who represents a company Registered in HK? Else, he can get the Z visa from HK, if he is not a HK citizen. Plz advice….Thanks

    Editor says:

    Dear Mahbub,

    A chief representative is able to enter China on a business visa (F) and apply for a work permit and residence permit once the RO has been approved by the authorities. All other foreign employees of the company however will need to apply for a Z visa in the country of residency.


    MAHBUB says:

    Dear Editor,
    I have got the RO License already in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. But, my Lawyer (I talked with 2) says although I am the Chief Rep., the rules has been changed, Now, even being the Chief, I cant transfer my F visa to a Res Permit. They saying, I also need to apply for Z visa similar like other Reps of the Company. Can you plz suggest me the Rules? Regards.

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