Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to... get an invitation letter for a business (F) visa

If your company needs to invite personnel from abroad for short business missions in China, they will have to apply for an invitation letter for the person to come to make sure he or she can get an F visa. For stays under 30 days of duration, and with only one single entry to China, an informal invitation letter is usually sufficient. For longer stays, companies are advised to get an official invitation letter from the local Bureau of Commerce.

The corresponding authority in Beijing is the:

Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce
Service Hall on the first floor, Counter 11, 190 Chaoyangmennei Daijie, Dongcheng District, Beijng
Tel: 010-6522 1696, 010-6523 6688 ext. 2165
Fee: 400 RMB

You can download the application form for invitation letters online at http://eservice.beijing.gov.cn/ (only in Chinese).

After entering details online (the status of the application can be tracked online), pick up your
invitation confirmation at the Bureau of Commerce.

Required documents are:
  • Print-out of the online application with company stamp and signature of the CEO
  • Copy of the applicant’s passport (personal information and any previous Chinese visas)
  • Copy of the inviting company’s business license
  • Explanation of the reason for traveling to China with a company stamp: detailed company information and travel itinerary (further supporting documents, such as a project plan, contracts, or information about exhibitions to be visited, etc. are preferable)
  • Further documents that the Bureau might require to process the application
The final result should look something like this:

If you have a look at the top of the letter it clearly states at which embassy or consulate the applicant should apply for his visa. If you want to apply in Hong Kong, you will need the appropriate invitation letter saying you should apply there!

Please note it's currently pretty difficult to obtain F visa even if a company manages to get an invitation letter from the Bureau of Commerce! Some companies can only issue letters to GMs from abroad, some none at all. Make sure you think about alternative options in case the employee's application is rejected.


Anonymous said...

So you're saying that applying for an F visa is risky, even with the correct paperwork?
I have all the official paperwork (foreigner employment license and invitation letter from Bureau of Commerce) to apply for a Z visa when I head home. But my company is screwing me 'round over the cost of the flights and my contract and I'd prefer an F visa that is not tied to the company.
It sounds like I'd be best to try and stick with the company for long enough to switch z to f.

Coeurdelion said...

The issuance of F visa has been severely reduced over the last months, and depending on your company's registered capital and structure, an invitation letter may be deemed as not sufficient.

If you decide not to stay with the company you're starting to work for, you can also change your Z visa to your new employer - that might be a more viable option for you?!

Nigel Jones said...

First, your site is amazing... thanks.

Is everything above what I need to extend my F-visa whilst in Beijing?

I am on a F-visa as I came as a student, my visa expires next week, but I have been offered 3 months of work with a company.

Is it just the above invitation letter that i need to take to the PSB to get my F-visa extended?

thanks again

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Nigel,

yes, this is all you need, along with photos, passprt, police registration and maybe a hotel reservation, but be careful as this invitation is currently really tough to get!

emeraldstar said...

Would someone working in a foreign embassy/consulate inside China be able to apply for a government authorized business invitation letter this same way also?

(To invite someone outside China on F visa).

Coeurdelion said...


embassies usually have separate rules about visa for diplomats and embassy personnel. They're usually not able to provide invitations for someone who won't be working at the embassy/consulate directly.

Landon said...

I am still hearing that I can not get an F visa for a "Banking" or "Finance" job. I haven't been able to get a straight answer as to when this will change. Do you have any insight on when it may be possible to get a letter of invitation from the Gov? Or when the regs will change as to I don't need the official invitation letter. Is there a reason that it is harder to get an F visa for banking than it is for another industry?