December 2010: China visa update

Travel | by Aimee Groom
Posted: December 16th, 2010 | Updated: February 23rd, 2012 | Comments
china visa As 2010, the year of the Shanghai Expo and the Asian Games draws to a close, we thought it was time to take a quick look-see how things are panning out post-world events in that dark and foggy realm that is "getting a China visa." In the run-up to Expo, as with the pre-Beijing Olympics fervor, and even the recent Guangzhou Asian Games down south, there were a number of confusing changes afoot, ready to rumble the plans of the uninitiated, unprepared, or just plain unlucky. So in the interest of shedding light on the current situation, we got in touch with our old pal and visa mastermind Mr Magic at Shanghai and Yuri at Beijing to get a quick rundown on the lay of the visa-land.... Chinese visas in Shanghai L visa: L visas (tourist visas) can be extended twice in Shanghai for 30 days each time and then you'll have to head out to re-apply. At present, L visas cannot be changed to F or Z in Shanghai; you'll need to leave for Hong Kong or your home country for that. Do note that in Hong Kong, L visas are currently still restricted to 30 day single entry, instead of the usual 90 and, for some nationalities, they've cut back even further to just 7-15 days. It's wise to check with a local agent like Sunrise International Travel beforehand. F visa: It seems the Shanghai government is protecting the job market for Chinese employees. This means things are looking a little tight for F visa holders in Shanghai, with only 1-3 months available for bona-fide business people (though with a heavyweight investment capital company or Fortune 500 name behind you, there is still a chance of  6 months). If you've had too many L or F visas before though, beware, they may well refuse your application and suggest you apply for a working Z visa instead. Magic also says the Shanghai government are unlikely to approve further F visas for foreigners on internships or who have been working freelance for more than 6 months already, and rejection rates for small, local companies looking to hire foreign employees are on the rise. Z visa: First-time Z visa applicants will need to go through Hong Kong and for any dewy-eyed interns out there determined to stay and live the China dream, be aware that even with company sponsorship Shanghai is still looking for two years' proven work experience to get a Z visa, though with the right connections there are ways around this. Getting a first-time Z visa in Hong Kong should pose no major problems for most nationalities, but do be aware that very low capital-investment companies are seeing a higher rejection rate. On a side note, from Magic, things have loosened up for French passport holders who were having a hard time of it earlier in the year on the mainland and in Hong Kong. Inside of mainland China the same policies as above now apply, but for applicants in Hong Kong, there's still no express service available and you'll need at least four working days to process your application. Chinese visas in Beijing Yuri at Get in2 China tells us that things are somewhat more relaxed in the capital than down south, with L, F and Z visas all available as follows: L visa: If you're on an L visa you can extend it twice for 30 days each time (single entry), and then you have three options:
  • Leave China and reapply
  • Switch to an F, X or Z visa. If you have the right paperwork for this, you can make the jump in Beijing and there's no need to leave the country.
  • A third L visa extension is possible, giving you a 6-month, single entry L visa.
F visa: 3, 6 and sometimes 12-month single, double and multiple entry F visas are available when extending your F visa or changing over from an L visa. Z visa: With the right documents, extensions and first time applications are all possible in Beijing. However, Yuri does point out that some nationalities, including north African nationalities, Kazakhs and Pakistanis will find it difficult to get anything other than an L visa. He also mentions that although L visa, 30-day extensions can be arranged just 1-2 days before your visa expires, you should be sure to leave at least two weeks for an application for any other type of visa. People often ask what happens if you overstay your visa and there are many tales to be told, with varying outcomes, but the best advice is:  just don't do it. An overstayed visa results in a fine of RMB 500 per day (to a maximum of RMB 5000) and an overstay record with the government which could affect any future applications. For those who do manage to get themselves either multi-entry F or L visas with stay restrictions, here's a handy China Travel tip--check out the tiny Taiwanese island of Xiamen as a south China alternative to Hong Kong to get your China exit/re-entry stamp... flights to Xiamen tend to be a heck of a lot cheaper! As with all information pertaining to visas in China, everything here is a guideline only and can change at short notice and according to your individual situation. If you're not sure which visa you need to apply for, you can check out the FAQs section at Visa in China for a thorough breakdown of the Shanghai situation, and if you still have questions then give Magic a call to see what tricks he's got up his sleeve. Alternatively, for Beijing-based info, contact Get in2 China for more info. Magic Cheng Meshing Consultancy Service No. 485 HeNan bei Rd. YingLi building 4th floor 3B Shanghai,200071,China Tel: +86 (021) 3301 1478 / 6307 5776 Mp: 1350 182 8752 Website: Email: Get in2 China (Beijing) Tel. +86 (010) 6403 4923 Mob. +86 1501 053 2542 Website: Email: Skype: Getin2China MSN: Getin2China Past posts about Chinese visas on China Visa Update: latest Shanghai Expo 2010 visa rules New China Visa Rules Update: 24 Changes You Need to Know About China Visa Update: 12 month multiple-entry F visa available again Year-End China Visa Update
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