General questions about visa application

Question 1:   Do I need a Chinese visa?   Foreigners are generally required to apply for a China visa before departure, but some needn’t if they enjoy visa exemption…

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Question 1:


Do I need a Chinese visa?


Foreigners are generally required to apply for a China visa before departure, but some needn’t if they enjoy visa exemption or visa-free transit policies, for example, passport holders from 53 countries enjoy the 72-hour visa-free transit and 144-hour visa-free transit in major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.


Question 2:


How to obtain a Chinese visa?


The Chinese Embassy and Consulates do not accept mail-in applications. Applicants for visas are requested to appear at the Consulate in person or apply through an authorized visa agency.


Question 3: 


Do I need to send my physical passport?


Yes. it is required to send your actual passport. The Embassy/Consulate needs your passport in order to affix or stamp your visa onto it.


Question 4: 


Why must I have full blank visa pages in my passport?


China visas are affixed in your passport on the pages specifically marked for them, and countries require that visa stamps be placed on those pages that do not contain any other stamps.


Question 5: 


Can a visa be issued on a blank amendment page at the back of my passport?


No, amendment pages at the back of passports are specifically for changes and endorsements to a passport after initial issuance. Embassies and Consulates generally refuse to issue visa to amendment pages.


Question 6:


What type of visa do I need?


Visas are issued with specific type relevant to the purpose of visit. The most popular types include tourist, business, student, work, crew, private and family visa.


Question 7: 


I will visit someone in China and do some sightseeing. Should I apply for a L visa and a S2 visa?


Tourist visa is easier, if you can provide flight and hotel confirmation. However, if you don’t have hotel confirmation, you will need to provide an invitation letter. Because there are requirements on 1) how the invitation needs to be written, 2) who is qualified to be an inviting person, 3) how to prove the relationship between the inviting person and the invited. Therefore, using invitation letter tends to be less predictable. Consulate may come back for more information if they deem it necessary. Hotel reservation can solve a lot headache and you can cancel it later.


Question 8:


How long can I stay in China for each entry? Can I extend my stay in China while I am there? 


With regular tourist or business visa, you can now normally stay 30 -60 days for each entry. If you need to stay longer while you are in China, please contact with the visa office of the local Public Security Bureau to file for an extension. Do not overstay.


Question 9: 


We recently applied our China visa. Our application said we would only be visiting Beijing, can we change our plan now and take a side trip to Shanghai?


Yes, you are permitted to travel to other cities as well. Information you provided on visa application form is for reference purpose only. You are not limited to cities you listed on the application form.


Question 10: 


When to apply for visa?


The best time to apply for your visa is one month before your departure. It is also possible to obtain a China visa within one week or apply a few months in advance.


Question 11: 


Do I need to make an appointment to submit application?


It depends. Almost all Chinese embassies and consulates don’t ask applicants to make an appointment. Most CVASCs offer visa application appointment service, but it’s not compulsory. US citizens don’t need to do so while UK citizens must book an appointment before going to the CVASC. Canadian and Australian citizens can choose to make appointment or not at the official website of CVASC in their countries. Please check with the embassy, consulate or CVASC in your residence area before you go there.


Question 12:  


Where can I get China Visa Application Form?


The easiest way is to download it from internet, but the form is in PDF, you should have installed the software of Adobe Reader. Click to download China Visa Application Form.


Question 13: 


How much is a visa for China?


The visa fees vary greatly according to your nationality, the number of entries, the country you are applying in and whether you need an express service or not. Generally speaking, the fees are more expensive if you want more entries. However, the fees are the same for American citizens no matter what number of entries they apply for. See China Visa Fees.


Question 14:


What are Entries, Enter Before, and Duration of Each Stay on a visa?


The number of entries on a visa indicates the times that you can enter mainland China during its validity. The visa becomes void if it goes beyond the date of ENTER BEFORE even if there are some ENTRIES left. ENTRIES vary from single, double and multiple. A single entry is printed as 01(壹), while double as 02(贰), and multiple as M(多).


ENTER BEFORE means the last date for the holder to use it to enter mainland PRC. You must enter before 24:00 on this date. A visa comes into effect since the date of issuance, which is the starting day that the holder can use it to enter mainland PRC.


Duration of Each Stay after Entry means the maximum number of days the applicants are permitted to stay in China. Duration of Each Stay is counted from the date of entry.


Question 15: 


Can UK, US, Australian, and Canadian citizens go to China without a visa?


About 170 countries or regions don’t need it for Hong Kong. You can read the List of Visa-free Countries to Hong Kong to check whether you need it or not. Passport holders from 65 countries enjoy free access to Macau for a certain period; other aliens can apply when they arrive in Macau, please refer to the List of Visa-free Countries to Macau.



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