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A Brief Introduction to Chinese Visas and the Procedure for Visa Application
Q: As a foreigner, how may I apply for a Chinese visa, and what kind of visa should I apply for?

A Chinese visa is a permit issued to a foreigner by the Chinese visa authorities for entry into, exit from or transit through Chinese territory. The Chinese visa authorities may issue a diplomatic, courtesy, service or ordinary visa to a foreigner according to his or her identity, purpose of visit to China and passport type. Hereunder is an introduction to the ordinary visa and its application procedure:

The ordinary visas consist of eight subcategories, which are marked with Chinese phonetic letters (D, Z, X, F, L, G, C, J-1 and J-2 respectively).

Visa D: Issued to foreigners who are to reside permanently in China. A permanent residence confirmation form shall be required for the application of Visa D. The applicant shall apply to obtain this form personally or through designated relatives in China from the exit-and-entry department of the public security bureau in the city or county where s/he applies to reside.

Visa Z: Issued to foreigners who are to take up posts or employment in China, and to their accompanying family members. To apply for a Visa Z, an Employment License of the People's Republic of China for Foreigners (which can be obtained by the employer in China from the provincial or municipal labor authorities), and a visa notification letter/fax issued by an authorized organization or company, are required.

Visa X: Issued to foreigners who come to China for basic studies, advanced studies or job-training for a period of six months or more. To apply for a Visa X, certificates from the receiving unit and the competent authority concerned are required, i.e., Application Form for Overseas Students to China (JW201 Form or JW202 Form), Admission Notice and Physical Examination Record for Foreigners.

Visa F: Issued to an applicant who is invited to China on a visit, for a specific study or lecture, business tour, for scientific-technological and cultural exchanges, for a short-term refresher course or for job-training, for a period of no more than six months. To apply for a Visa F, the invitation letter from the inviting unit or the visa notification letter/fax from the authorized unit is required.

Visa L: Issued to foreigners who come to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives or other private purposes. For a tourist applicant, in principle s/he shall evidence financial capability of covering the travelling expenses in China, and when necessary, provide the air, train or ship tickets to the visited country/region after leaving China. For applicants who come to China to visit relatives, some are required to provide invitation letters from their relatives in China.

Visa G: Issued to foreigners who transit through China. Aapplicants are required to show valid visas and on-going tickets to the destination countries/regions.

Visa C: Issued to train attendants, air crewmembers and sea personnel operating international services, and to their accompanying family members. To apply for a visa C, relevant documents are required to be provided in accordance with bilateral agreements or regulations of the Chinese side.

Visa J-1: Issued to foreign resident correspondents in China.

Visa J-2: Issued to foreign correspondents who are making a short trip to China on reporting tasks.  Applicants for J-1 and J-2 visas are required to provide a certificate issued by the correspondent Chinese authorities.

In addition to providing the above-mentioned documents, an applicant is also required to answer relevant questions and go through the following formalities (with the exception of those stipulated otherwise by agreements):

Providing valid passport or a travel document in lieu of the passport

Filling out a visa application form, and providing a recent 2-inch, bareheaded and full-faced passport photo.

Paying the visa fee.

Overseas Chinese visa authorities are Chinese embassies, consulates, visa offices, the consular department of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in HKSAR, and other agencies abroad authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. If a foreigner intends to enter into, exit from or transit through Chinese territory, s/he shall apply to the above-mentioned Chinese visa authorities for a Chinese visa. For further information, please consult the nearest Chinese visa authority.