Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ask a question

Dear visitors,

for professional reasons, I am currently living in India, which makes me unable to follow the latest visa regulations in China and answer your questions regularly. Please refer to the visa section of thebeijinger where you can post your inquiries.


You've read all relevant posts and are still clueless about which rules apply to your specific situation?

This page is there for questions of any kind concerning your visa application. You can post your questions as comments; I will try to answer them as quickly as possible but please don't forget you might be in a different time zone and I won't be online a lot on weekends.

For comments on specific blog entries (which don't require an answer from my side), you are welcome to post them directly on the pages.

If you have comments or questions about this site in general, please use the "Contact" button.



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Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this information.

I have a query:
My friends will be staying with me soon. They arrive in the afternoon and then the next day we will be flying out of Beijing to another city in China.

Do you know what times the local PSB's are open to foreigners to register? I'm worried that my friends will arrive too late in the afternoon to register and then we'll leave too early (flight at 9am) the next day.

We will be doing a tour when we leave Beijing, so do you think it will be fine for them to register when we arrive back to Beijing a week later?

Thanks for the help!

Coeurdelion said...

If you stay in Beijing for only 12 hours, I really don't think it's necessary to register. Police stations can have different opening times, and it's perfectly fine for you to assume yours closes too early to register your friends. I heard once you need to register if you plan to stay for at least ten days, but I can't find the source right now.

As long as you register with the police when you come back to Beijing (and stay a bit longer), you'll be ok!

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that having to leave China to get a Z visa is related to the position one has in the company. If the position is high enough - (GM, other types of managers & supervisors) - then it is possible to get the process done without leaving the country. Is this correct?

Coeurdelion said...

True. Thanks for pointing this out! I changed the post accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nadine
You mention the health check BEFORE applying for the z-visa in the home country.
Is it not possible anymore to do the health check in China after I return with my z-visa?
(1. work permit in China 2. z-visa in home country 3. health check in china 4..........alien employment/.... residence permit ...)

Simone (already living in China/ need to reapply for z)

Coeurdelion said...


the most common situation is that applicants first come to China on an L or F visa, which makes the process a lot easier. The same accounts for your case: what you can do is to prepare all documents now (including the health check), and when your company is issued your work permit, you take it back home and apply for a Z visa.

However, for people who come to China for the first time and wuold like to enter the country directly on a Z visa, there is, in my understanding, no way around passing the health check in their home country because the document needs to be handed in when the company applies for the work permit and not only when you apply for the alien employment permit.

Anonymous said...

The last time I applied for a Z visa, I tried to get a Health Check at home in Australia, but the hospitals over here don't do the "tests" as required by the Chinese Embassy. I actually got laughed at when I said I needed a chest x-ray to test for TB. So how can I apply for a Z visa from Australia, if I can't get the health test?

Coeurdelion said...

I would ask the Chinese Embassy if they have any hospitals they can recommend - it might be the tropical institute of your area for example. If all else fails, you'll have to come to China on a different visa, do the health check here, and apply for your Z visa abroad, for example on a short trip to Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know how long this health check form is good for? how long before i apply for the z-visa can i do the health check-up?

Coeurdelion said...

Thanks for pointing out that missing information. The health check certificate is valid for six months from the date of issue. I changed the post accordingly!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great information. I've also checked the info you posted about this at your facts and fiction and How to... get a tourist (L) visa posts, and I'm a little confused about what I can do in my situation.

I've just completed my teaching contract. My current Z visa expires July 15th. I have tickets for the Olympics and a flight back to the USA scheduled for August 13th. I'm going to be in Hong Kong July 6th-12th, so I'm planning to try to get a 30-day L visa then. However, I don't have a hotel booking since my school is willing to let me use my on-campus apartment until I leave China. I was planning to get the private invitation letter from a school staff person who is a friend and is helping me out with this. Should I just make the letter out to say I'm staying with him? You've also hinted that proof of kinship may be required (which I don't have) or that they may not be allowing this at all for tourists from some countries (which is stated in the "Other rumors out there" section of the facts and fiction post.)

Another option I have is that I've got friends in Beijing I'll be staying with for about 3 days--would it work better to get this letter from them?

I've also get friends who are working at some hotels and hostels in Beijing, and I think they could pull some strings to let me make a booking and then cancel it later--should I just get a booking document from one of their hotels?

Thanks for any help you can provide!


Coeurdelion said...


thanks for your comment.

You'll be good in any case. Let me explain why:

First, I would advise you to use an agency when extenduing your visa in Hong Kong. The commissioner's office in Wanchai is overcrowded and applies extremely strict rules when issuing visas, while agents hand in the applications in bunch and have way better guanxi than you could ever have. Most of the agencies are happy to provide you with hotel and flight bookings and will only ask you to bring passport and photos.

If you want to provide all necessary documents yourself, you can sure use a personal invitation letter from a friend here, and will, as US citizen, most probably not be asked to provide proof of kinship. You can also book a hotel yuorself and then cancel the booking - or let your friends do it. Really, either way is fine!

Good luck!

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?!

Anonymous said...

I'm coming over to beijing to stay with my sister and hopefully find some work - I've booked flights from uk going out in sep and coming back in dec... is it going to be possible to get a visa for this time without changing my flights? Any advice much appreciated!

Coeurdelion said...


you'll have to come on a tourist visa which you should be able to extend here (especially because you're staying with family). This should give you about three months worth of legal visa, maybe even longer. If you haven't found a job by then, there's always the option to fly to Hong Kong and get a new visa.

Anonymous said...

so it's still possible to get a tourist L visa from Hong Kong? I've heard that, pre-July 1, ppl stlll got L's from third countries (ie hong kong or some place not your home country or China). Regarding work visas as well, i've had 2 friends who had to fly back to the UK or Australia, though i read websites where it says you can change from L to Z in Hong Kong?


Coeurdelion said...


the official information is indeed that you do have to go back to your home country to get a visa.

However, if you browse some forums (like here:, you'll see that all kinds of people are coming back from HK with brand new visas every day. It definitely helps to use an agency, but the Commissioner's Office in Wanchai is also full of foreigners.

If you give some of the agencies listed on my site a call they'll all tell you it's still possible to get F, L and Z visas, but it might be more expensive and require more documents than before, and the validity of your visa might be shorter than if you got it back home.

Anonymous said...

hi,I'm here in the Philippines, and my boyfriend is currently working in Shanghai, and has his Z visa. He rents an apartment together with his older sister and her husband and daughter. Would it be OK if my boyfriend sent me an invitation letter? I'm worried that the Chinese Embassy won't issue me a visa, with all the Olympics stuff going on. And does it do any harm if I show them my US visa,and my previous passports showing my travel to USA, Canada, and Hong Kong? Thanks in advance!


Anonymous said...

Please note that currently in some embassies, applications for tourist visas are only accepted without a hotel booking if the applicant has close relatives in China!
--this got me extra worried T_T


Coeurdelion said...


it is currently pretty hard to understand which nationals are still allowed to issue private invitation letters to friends and which ones aren't.

I know some Europeans definitely have to provide hotel bookings if proof of kinship cannot be provided, and we also know that in the past, Asian countries have always had a hard time applying for visa to China.

Showing them your previous visas will neither harm nor help; the same applies to your boyfriend's living situation.

The best thing you can do is give the Chinese embassy a call and ask if a hotel booking is mandatory for you.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I tried to apply for a z visa but the embassy rejected my application since they say that my invitation letter was issued by the wrong department in China. My invitation letter looks exactly the same as the letter you have in the section "How to... get an invitation letter for a business (F) visa". I then of course asked which is the correct department but the embassy people didn't know.

DO you know of any alternative departments that can issue an invitation letter for my company? Would an invitation letter directly from my company in China be sufficient?


Coeurdelion said...


that'a tricky situation.

Usually, the Municipal Bureau of Commerce of the area where your company is registered would have to put their chop on your invitation letter.

However, certain areas of business require stamps by other ministries, like the Ministry of Justice for law companies. The best you can do is to ask your company to inquire directly about which one is the relevant authority.

An informal invitation letter by your company will most probably not be sufficien for your application.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response Coeurdelion. The strange thing is that my company already has more than 50 expats in China so I am not the first using this type of invitation letter issued by the same government department. Unfortunately, the people working with visas in my company do not have any clue about this new change in policy for invitation letter.

The embassy told me that they had received new directives to reject this government department's invitation letter the same day (11th July).


Romain said...


I'm currently here with a "L" visa, which will expire in about two weeks. I'll start studying here in september (I already have the acceptation letter from the university and the JW202 form).
Do you know what kind of visa I should ask now ? "X" ? And if so, should I do a health check before applying ? It seemed to me that I could do it after, but before applying for a residence permit.
If it's too early to get a student visa, do you think I can still renew my tourist visa ? I'm afraid, with the olympics coming, to have it refused.

By the way, great site, thanx !

Anonymous said...

Hi, I’m currently holding the following visa:
ENTER BEFORE 21 april 2008
ISSUE DATE: 21 January 2008

The entry date is February 6th 2008, so my Visa will expire the 5th of august. Before I came to China, I already booked a flight back home (September 2nd I am also renting an apartment until then) which I cannot change. Besides, I want to visit the Olympic games (I already have tickets). Those are the main reasons I want to extend my visa. However it is difficult, because of several reasons.
- I am not working at the company, which invited me to come to China, anymore. So they won’t help me to extend my visa. The company I am currently working for, will invite me to extend my visa. However, then I have to go back to my home country (the Netherlands) to get a new one.
- It is a risk to go to HK to change my F visa into L, because I have a single entry visa. If they won’t give me the visa, I cannot go back.
I really hope you can give me some suggestions about the best way to extend my visa.

Coeurdelion said...


with the documents from your university, you can apply for an X visa but it will only be issued from the date your university starts. Also, you can most probably only apply from abroad, so you'll have to leave China at some point before that. Phone some agencies in Hong Kong to find out if you can do it there or have to go back to your home country.

If you would like to stay here until then, you will have to extend your current L (tourist) visa. See my "How to extend my visa in Beijing" page for details, and remember you'll have to show proof of sufficient financial means!

Coeurdelion said...

Hello anonymous user,

you might indeed have to leave China to get a new visa. However, I would first inquire with the PSB about your specific situation because it is very clear you're an Olympic tourist and leaving right after the Games are over - if you show the flight and Olympic tickets, they might grant you an exceptional extension.

There currently is, to my knowledge, no reason why you wouldn't get an L visa in Hong Kong in case you have to leave China. If you call some agencies beforehand I'm sure they'll tell you the same thing, so I wouldn't be afraid about the single entry issue.

Romain said...

Thank you for your anwser. Let's hope I can at least get a "L" extension till the end of august, and then find a way not to come back to France for just a few days.

Maarten said...

Thank you for your answer (I'm the anonymous user of previous question)!
If I cannot get the exceptional extension, I need to get a L visa in Hong Kong. When I'm going to Hong Kong this week, I need a L visa till the 2nd of September, so I hope to get a L visa for 60 days (there is nothing between 30 and 60 days, is there?).
I read on your site: L visas are usually issued for a period of 30, sometimes of 60 days.
Now I'm wondering if it is more difficult to get a 60 days tourist visa instead of a 30 days tourist visa. Do you know anything about that? Thanks in advance!

Coeurdelion said...


it might be a bit tougher to get 60 days. What might happen is that they give you a 60 days visa but limit your "duration of each stay" to 30 days, forcing you to leave the country at least once, for at least 5 minutes (think HK or Mongolia) before you leave China again.

I suggest you give the agencies a call to find out what you can expect. You can also write an email to or call the commissioner's office, but remember you will have to provide hotel booking confirmations if you plan to get their visa from them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion and Robert,

I'm in the exact same situation as Robert. I posted another comment on the F visa section. I thought nationality had a lot to do with it as I am Malaysian (Chinese ethnicity) and my US friends don't seem to have any problems getting visas. I applied for the visa last Friday July 11 and got the same jaw-dropping response as Robert did.

Robert, I'm interested to know if you're from one of the "blacklisted" countries?

Will keep you posted with any updates from my end and would appreciate the same! Thanks.



Coeurdelion said...


your rejection doesn't necessarily have to do anything with where you're from. Your visa application will be assessed using a number of criteria - size, capitalization and importance of the company inviting you, relevance of the authority (municipal / national), length of stay, your position in the company and so on.

It could therefore be anything that makes the authorities think your presence in China is not crucial at this moment in time.

You can try again with a different company - large MNCs usually have less problems than SMEs. I know that's not much of a consolation but times are tough.

Anonymous said...

Hi K,

I am not from one of the "blacklisted countries" since I am from Danmark. However, I tried to make my application at the Malaysian embassy so this could be something specifc for the KL embassy. Now my company back in Beijing has found out that where to get a valid invitation letter. Don't ask me where.. Unfortunately, this department will not issue any invitation letter for Malaysia unless I have a work permit in Malaysia so I still have a big problem.
Best regards,

Coeurdelion said...


did your invitation letter say at the top that you should use it in Kuala Lumpur? That might be a reason for them not accepting it... But it could also be like you said, this being a special rule at the embassy in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Yes the invitation letter said that I should apply in Malaysia. The clarification is that this specific government department is no longer allowed to issue invitation letters. So far I think only the Kuala Lumpur embassy has enforced this new directive.


Anonymous said...

Mine was for Malaysia as well - bad luck with this special rule! The officer at the counter rejected the invitation letter without even looking at the company or visa details. I ended up getting a 15 day tourist visa, in BJ now but not sure what will happen after. I heard the closer it gets to the Games, the shorter visas will get.

Robert, maybe your company can look into HK for you if KL doesn't work. If there is a special invitation letter just for Malaysia(ns), the office manager will have to go hunting tomorrow!



Anonymous Coward said...

A Chinese company has invited me on an extended business trip for 3-5 months. They official letter (from the provincial authorities) is on the way. I would need a F visa. Now, if I can get plane tickets and hotel reservations SHOWING I will be there for, say, 5 months, will the embassy still insist on giving me a 30-day F visa?

If that's the case, can I take the visa to the PSB and extend it there, using the original letter? Passport runs are a pain the rear.


Coeurdelion said...

Hey Coward (ha!),

this depends a bit on the company that invited you. As you can also see from the previous posters (and my answer to them), authorities will look at size, importance and capitalization of the firm and then decide what visa they'll give you.

If they decide your presence in China is not necessary for more than 30 days, there's still the possibility to extend it here, but this being Olympic times, I wouldn't take this for granted.

I know it's frustrating - these clearly aren't the best times for business trips.

Jim Shues said...

I am a US Citizen traveling in Malaysia right now in Kuching. I have air, hotel and Olympic tickets already booked for August 10-12th. When I went to the Chinese Consulate in Kuching, they told me that I have to apply for a visa in Washington DC. This of course is not possible for me as I am in Borneo right now. Should I be able to get a visa for China from them or what options do I have in the next 25 days to get a visa? Thanks

Coeurdelion said...


this is pretty unlucky. Have you tried giving the embassy in Kuala Lumpur a call? If they also refuse to issue you a visa, your safest bet will be to stop over in Hong Kong and apply for a tourist visa from there.

Give the Commissioner's Office and/or one of the agencies listed on this page a call to make sure there will be no problems, but I'm 95% confident with all those supporting documents yoy should get your tourist visa without any hassel.

Enjoy Borneo!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "Z" visa: if you apply for it at your home country, you need to provide the original work permit and the invitation letter for the visa. As for the invitation letter I guess the embassy will keep the original for themselves, but I will probably need the original work permit back for further processing in China. Am I right?

Coeurdelion said...

The Embassy will usually keep the originals of both your invitation letter and your work permit. For further processing in China, a copy of the work permit is sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

you are wasting your time if you try to get a visa in Kuala Lumpur. You need a Malaysian work permit in order to be allowed to apply. This seems to be regardless of your nationality unless you are Malaysian of course.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering what type of visa to get for my 8 month old son. Here is his situation.

I'm a HK national and have a China card so I don't need a visa. His dad is British and has a Z visa. I thought I could get my son a China card but because I wasn't born in HK, he doesn't qualify for HK citizenship.
My son was born in China and has gotten an L visa previously. We're now in England visiting family but are a bit stuck on the visa front as he can't get an L visa without showing his return flight ticket. Because we live in China, he doesn't need a return flight ticket. I was looking into getting a D visa for him but saw that he needs a Resident Approval certificate as well as a health certificate to qualify for a D visa.
Help, please!!

Coeurdelion said...

Hello there,

if your husband is in China on a Z visa, there should be no problem to get a dependent Z visa / residence permit for your son! You might have to do this in China though - give the PSB a call to find out what exact documents you need. If they require your son to travel to China on another visa in the first place, just book any refundable flight out of China and cancel it once you get your visa.

If, for any reason, your son cannot a dependent Z visa / residence permit, you should be able to get gim the one year familiy L visa here in China, too (the same people married to Chinese nationals get). For the family L, I know you can only apply from tihin China, so you would as well need to get him a short term L first and change it once you arrive in the PRC.

Good luck!

Heike said...


I have a question. My company rent an apartment for me and my assistant. I did not sign the contract, my Chinese assistant did it for me. We live there together. I never registered, because I stay there only short time. I have an one-year F Visa with 30 days stay and multi-entry.

Now I want to stay in the apartment for Olympic games for 30 days. My family is coming over too. So what should I do now? Which documents should I bring for registration?

Thanks for your help.

netbang said...

Do you know what's necessary to apply for the residence permit using a student (X) visa? I have the invitation letter from the university, the JW202 form, my temporary residence registration, my health check results... is there anything i'm missing? Thanks.

Coeurdelion said...


it should be ok for you to stay at the apartment as a visitor for 30 days. In that case, you'll just need to take your assistant, her/his lease contract and, if you have it, a copy of the landlord's ID. At some police stations, it will even be sufficient if you go all by yourself with your passport.
Same accounts for your visiting family members.

Be careful though - they might have trouble getting visas for their stay if they cannot provide hotel reservations!

Coeurdelion said...


for an X visa application, you will need to provide

- the application form
- pictures
- JW201 or JW202 and enrollment letter from the Chinese school
- Health certificate if you stay longer than 6 months

If you have all this you should be fine!

All the best,


Anonymous said...

coeurdelion, was wondering if you've heard of people getting turned down on the L renewal at the Beijing PSB??

Coeurdelion said...

So far, I haven't heard of anyone that was turned down at the Beijing PSB when applying for an extension. If you can prove you have sufficient funds and documentation you should be alright!

Anonymous said...

Cheers! Good news!

Ivah Aprilia said...

Dear Coeurdelion,

I found your blog today and found you as my savior for my "life in China"!

I have a question, I read in your "How to get a business visa" page that if I currently hold and F visa that's issued outside China, I can extend it. But, I went to the PSB 2 days ago and the lady said I can't. I was wondering whether this is just new rules from the government or it's just because she wanted to give me the fastest answer, "NO". (sorry for this, I mean no offense. It's just a thought that popped out in my head)

The problem is my visa will end on August 26 and I've been hearing from so many people that it's very hard for Indonesian passport holder (that's me) to get visa in China right now.

So, do you have any suggestions for me? Should I try to go to the PSB again? Or try to find a visa agent to do it? Or I really have to go home?

Thanks in forward for your kind help.

worried Ivah

netbang said...

Just an update on my student visa application. I went to the PSB with my completed application form, my health check results (nothing wrong there), and my JW202 form... and was flatly rejected. Students cannot stay in Beijing over the summer.

My course is due to start at the beginning of September. I came early to watch the Olympics (I have tickets and I showed them to the policeman). I checked with the embassy in London before I applied for the student visa there and they said it would be no problem to apply for the residence permit as long as I do it within 30 days of arriving in Beijing. The policeman just said I have to leave and come back on a tourist visa. The school said that they will help me arrange another tourist visa in september if i have a tourist visa.... but then i'm reluctant to trust anyone now.

So i'm off to Hong Kong on Sunday evening. Hopefully some of the agents won't require hotel / flights / bank info.

Coeurdelion said...

Hey netbang,

sorry for this misunderstanding.

Of course you will only be granted a student visa for the time when you're actually studying! If you have a work permit and try to apply for a Z visa it's the same situation - both dates need to be consistent.

So yes, if you'd like to watch the Games as a tourist, you'll have to apply for a tourist visa and switch to a student visa just before your university starts. I wonder why they would tell you anything different in London... strange.

Good luck!

Coeurdelion said...


you will indeed have a very tough time extending your F visa - that is, unless you have a direct invitation from the Chinese government. You should ask your employer to support you in getting a Z visa - if this is not possible, you will most probably have to fly to your home country and get a new visa there.

Li said...

Fantastic blog - really helpful. Just wondering if you can direct me to some info about visas for spouses. My partner of 10 years is currently in BJ on a Z visa. I am on an F visa with a NGO, however this will end on Sept 3rd. Last year a friend of mine was in the same situation and was able to write a letter justifying her defacto status as part of the documentation required to apply for a Spouse Visa. Do you have more information about this?

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Li,

As an accompanying family member, as soon as you're married, you and your children are entitled to the same Z visa your spouse holds. This visa does not allow you to work; if you hold a position in China, you'll have to apply for your own independent Z visa.

If you're not married the situation is a lot tougher - you might get around with a certificate from your embassyb saying you lived together for so and so many years (and are therefor practically married), but they won't always accept it.

ibwelanzao said...

Hi there!
I am currently in Beijing and i have just completed the registration of my company (a consulting WFOE/WOFE with a capital less than 3 mil USD). I am the owner/CEO/Chairman of my company. i am about to start the process of work license, work permit, visa/residence permit. i understand that i won't be needed to exit the country. presently, i do have a residence permit issued a year ago which will expire at the end of august. I went to the Beijing Labour and Social Security Bureau and asked them what i needed to do. the guy just looked at me and went to fetch two pieces of paper ( one light purple, and the other yellow). upon reading i realized they were 'what-you-need-to-know 1 and what-you-need to know 2'. they guy at the bureau told me to read it and i will have all the answers needed. I have read them and still don't fully understand what kind of documents an OWNER/CEO/ Chairman of the company needs to give to obtain the work license and permit which will lead to residence permit.could you please enlighten me? P.S Your How to Get a Z-Visa applies to foreign employees, so i gather. What about the Foreign Business Owners/CEO's? my apologies for a long post.thanks in advance!

ibwelanzao said...

correction: 'they guy at the bureau told me .....' should read: ' the guy at the bureau told me ....'

Anonymous said...

I was lucky to get my residence permit-Z visa right before their new regulations when I had a job.
Now I resigned and currently doing freelance. But my visa is valid until the beginning of Jan 09 and it's renewable(obviously might be easier if I had the same job by then)
Although, I have to leave China for extended period which might exceed the expiry date, Jan.
My question now is would it be possible to extend it from abroad or when i come back after the expiry date?
how do i go about it in order to be able to keep this kind of visa, in case I have to come back and stay here again for longer period.


Coeurdelion said...


the procedure of applying for a Z visa is basically the same no matter if you're a "normal" employee or the CEO of your own company - in that case, you are just basically employing yourself.

The documents listed under "applying for a work permit" are therefore what you need to assemble in the first step.

I know that when you open your own business you might not be entirely familiar with how to hand in your articles of association, letter of intention for employment and so on. Going through all these documents in detail with you would go beyond the scope of this website, which I hope you understand.

What I can do is, if you drop me a mail, send you them same list including the names of the documents in Chinese language.

However, I would suggest you find a Chinese partner or agency who has dealt with this issue before to support you during the process.

Very often, you country's Chamber of Commerce or similar institutions are also able to assist you in these matters or point you in the direction of somebody who can help you.

Coeurdelion said...

anonymous poster,

your residence permit relies on the work permit your ex-employer originally got for you. This means that right now your status is not 100% legal, which is a very serious matter.

Your visa remains valid as long as no authority physically puts a stamp on it but this might happen at any point, and there have been stories before about the PSB knocking on doors of people who used some company to get a Z visa, quit and tried to use the residence permit for months.

I would therefore strongly advise you to get back into legality. As there is no such thing as "freelancer status" in China, this means you either set up your own company and get yourself a new work permit as CEO, or turn back into employment.

I don't even want to go into details on how you're supposed to pay taxes on the income you make as freelancer, and I'm talking BOTH corporate and personal income taxes.

Extending your residence permit without being employed with the same employer is out of question - unless your ex company is willing to continuously fake your employment with a renewed contract and work permit.

Jay said...

I entered China on a Z-visa and I now have a residency permit valid for a year and I have cleared all the PSB issues.

However, I plan to travel out of the country in a few months and I am not sure if the 1 entry on the Visa extends to the residency permit.

I'd like to know if I would have to apply for some kind of document to allow me travel out of the country for a week or so. Or does the residency permit automatically allow me multiple entries?

I'd appreciate a clarification before I make any travel plans

Coeurdelion said...


your residence permit allows you to exit and re-enter China as many times as you want during its validity.

The one entry mentioned on your original Z-visa only applies to that Z-visa itself.

No need to apply for another document!

Yi lu ping an!

Anonymous said...

I'm applying for a tourist visa. Question 4.7 through 4.10 ask about Inviter, Contact or Relative in China. Does this mean my hotel information? I don't have a contac otherwise. what do i put there?

Coeurdelion said...

You only need to provide information about your inviter if you chose "visiting relatives" as purpose of your trip. Some (rare) embassies will ask you to fill in the address of your hotel at this point but until they explicitely tell you to do so just leave it blank!

Have a nice trip!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nadine,

I went to apply for my F visa in the China consulate in MY as I will be studying in BJ from Sept-Jan. I asked the officer whether it was more appropriate for me to apply for a double or multiple 6 mths visa as I intended to visit HK and Russia during and once I finished my studies, before flying back to my home country.

Essentially the flight plan is:
MY - BJ - HK - BJ - RUS - BJ - MY.

However, the officer told me I needed proof of ticketing before she could issue me a multiple.

I told her this was just a temporary plan at the moment as I was still waiting on friends to confirm the trip.

The officer then told me the best she could do was to offer me a double entry visa which I okayed.

After speaking to her supervisor for the 2nd time, she told me that a double entry was impossible and only granted me a single entry 3 months.

How would this work, since my study period is more than 3 months? Would it be possible to extend it, or change it to a double entry visa at the PSB? What sort of documentation would I need?

The officer also stressed that my next best bet would be to go to HK to get another visa (or an extension) if I wanted to visit HK/Russia and come back to BJ. She said that it was very, very difficult and near impossible to be granted another visa (or an extension) within China now.

I am thoroughly confused now as I thought F visas were usually 6 months. If I wanted to visit HK (and Russia), and come back to Beijing, how should I go about it? I read that it takes approx 4 days to obtain a visa to enter China from HK. With my uni timetable, I won't be able to go away for 4 days.

Sorry for the long email but I am thoroughly confused right now!

Many many thanks,

Coeurdelion said...


if you study in China, you're supposed to apply for a student (X) visa. Your school or university will need to supply you with an official confirmation that you'll be studying with them (a so-called JW202 form).

If your school cannot give you this form it mean they're somehow not really an official university. In that case, the only thing they can do is inviting you as a company (that is, on a F visa), and times for those types of visa are not the best. You're actually pretty lucky to get 90 days already - people usually only get 30!

You will most probably not be able to extend this F visa here in China and will have to get a new (hopefully also 90 days) visa in HK and, because it will most likely also be single entry, another one in Russia. You might have trouble registering with the police because you're not staying at a hotel; you'll have to lie when they ask you why you're in China on a business visa, and you'll spend a lot of time queuing at consulates and Public Security Bureaus.

You see that coming here on anything else than an official student visa might make your life hell. There is a very small probability that you can get a six months multiple F visa abroad when the Games are over, but I woldn't count on it.

My advice: Call your university up and demand a JW202 form, or switch to another school which can provide one. You'll have a hassle-free, legitimate stay in China, instead of being continuous on the run and on the edge to illegality.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying the issues Nadine! :)

I was given the JW202 form, but when shown to the officer, she said that since my course was less than 6mths I did not qualify for an X visa.

Still very lost on my position of renewing a visa at the moment since I read that MY citizens are not actually allowed to apply for visas in HK!! :(


Coeurdelion said...


I see - that's very annoying, especially because there are quite a lot of students coming here for only one semester!

I don't really have a perfect solution for you, but would advise you talk to your university directly - they sure have an interest in you getting a visa, because if all students are refused entry they're not going to make any money!

Find out if they can issue a JW202 for more than 6 months - this will also mean that you'll have to provide aN HIV test with your application but at least you'll get in!

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion!

Your site has been a lot of help so far (great initiative!) and I�ve read a lot of posts, but still I have some questions. I would appreciate it if you can help me out with the following:

Dutch guy in shanghai on F visa for study (one semester). Currently looking for a job, though visa expires September 4, return flight August 18 and leaving on this date as I cannot rebook my flight. Would like to come back and continue job hunting on a (most likely) L visa.

Aim: look for and find a job in shanghai and obtain residence and working permit

1.I probably won�t be able to get an invitation but do have an apartment, I assume an F is out of the question?
2.Is it possible to have an L visa turned into a Z?
3.I�ve read extending L is possible, though currently this remains somewhat vague; what are the odds my visa extension somewhere around October will be denied?(I�m looking for a job, so I need all the time I can get)
4.When is an L issued for 30 and when for 60 days, the latter means I only have to extend once?
5.I would like to return on a one way flight ticket, I�ve read I need to provide round trip documentation. Can I come here on a one way ticket and if so, how to avoid this criterion?
6.I already have an apartment here which I can probably retain, what does this mean for the L invitation letter as I�m not staying in a hotel or at relatives.
7.Is it absolutely necessary to have 21,000 RMB on my bank acc.?
8.Is this amount the minimum for any duration, e.g. in case of a 60 day L?

Thanks very very much!! :)


Coeurdelion said...


of course you can come to China to job hunt on an L visa, but bear in mind L visa are usually only issued to people who can credibly prove they're here as tourists!


1)Unless you find a really big influential company which is ready to issue an invitation letter or rules change again, yes, getting an F visa will be very tough.

2) You can only apply for a Z visa outside of China UNLESS you're the legal representative of a company. You'll therefore at least need to go to Hong Kong to apply for your Z visa when you find an employer.

3) It shouldn't be a problem to extend your L visa, especially since you're based in Shanghai. So far, I haven't heard of anyone being rejected. Here's how you do it:

4) That's right but it's pretty hard to get 60 days if you cannot prove you spend all this time traveling around.

5) You will need to provide a round trip ticket or at least any flight out of China (e.g. to Hong Kong) within the 30 days you're applying for.

6) As you're officially a tourist, you'll most probably have to provide a hotel reservation or personal invitation. Lease contracts are ok for some visa applications, but you'd like to be credible right? Also, I've heard of a number of people being rejected because the consulate would'nt believe you spent a month as a tourist in Shanghai. So why not book two weeks in SH and two more in Hangzhou?

7) As far as I'm aware, the bank statement requirement is so far only enforced in Beijing.

8) In Beijing, you can extend for a flexible number of days and will need to show proof of 100us$ per day of extension.

Good luck!

netbang said...

Next question, as my plans have now changed and I have been offered a job in Beijing. My employer has arranged the foreign experts license / work permit stating that it should be used in Hong Kong to apply for the Z visa, and the invitation letter. The lady from HR told me that when in Hong Kong I should get a health check there and present my results when applying for the Z visa. I'm a little confused about this. I already have recent results from a valid health check from the place at HePingLi in Beijing - will this not be adequate? Also you mention that I should take a copy but also present the original - can this just be a photocopy or must it be an official copy provided by the hospital? Thanks again!

Thierry said...


I have a query

A friend of mine has a VISA issue, and I would like to get more information.
She used to have a Working Visa (so i guess it is a Z visa). But since quitted her previous company, she has no working permit, and i assume her VISA has been cancelled too.
That's why she came back to France.
She already found a new job in a French company located in Beijing, but it seems that this company cannot make her a new VISA for the moment.

Indeed, my friend who is French, found a job as Beautician.
However, it seems that there is new regulation in China; people we would like to do a "manual job" such as hairdresser or beauticuan have to pass a Chinese Diploma first... If they don't pass it, they could not get a working permit and a Z Visa
Is that true? Is this exam difficult? I could not get any information about it...

In addition, I tried to know when will be the next exam date, in order to tell my friend when she has to back to Beijing, but everybody told me that there are no exam during the Olympics period, so it means nothing before September 20th...
Is that true??

Could you please get me more details to get VISA for Beautician, and more details concerning the exam my friend has to pass

Thanks for your help

Coeurdelion said...

Hey netbang,

congratulations for your job offer.

I'm a bit confused about your HR lady though. Getting a health check done in any other country is always a very complicated procedure. I agree with you that your check from Hepingli should be fine - you'll find the duration of validity on it. The copy you'll have to provide is usually a simple photocopy and does not need to be a second version from the hospital itself.

Before you go, make sure your invitation letter also states you can apply in Hong Kong!

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Thierry,

the problem is that China will only believe you're an irreplaceable foreign expert if you're highly skilled and it would be nearly impossible for a Chinese citizen to do your job. There are so many estheticians in China that your friend's company will probably have a hard time explaining why they need to employ exactly her. Usually, foreigners are only granted a work permit if they have at least a Bachelor's degree for their field of work. Exceptions are sometimes granted to highly skilled engineers or people holding jobs where being a native speaker is required.

I believe you can get also a work permit if you provide a diploma from a Chinese university, but I'm not sure if you can just pass the exam (and if you can, I'm pretty confident it'll be in Chinese).

It's up to the employer to prove to the authorities that they desperately need your friend and nobody else. She should talk to them again and remind them this is their responsibility and not hers. However, it's going to be a tough call, looking at those millions of Chinese beauticians.

Derek said...


You have a great website with some very useful information.

My wife is Chinese and we own an apartment in China. We intend to live in the apartment for the next year, but I will continue to work for my current employer in Australia. I will be flying back to Australia every month to do some work and then returning to China. I was hoping to get a 12month multiple entry L Visa.

Whilst I'm in China I will sometime need to do some work for my Australian employer. This work would be part of my normal job in Australia and completely unconnected with China.

Would I be able to do this on an L visa? My employer is concerned about my visa status because they have an office in China and a good relationship with the Chinese authorities. They do not want to be seen to be breaking any Chinese laws.

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Derek,

I cannot give you any 100% legally proof information here - to be completely sure, I advise your company hires a consultant or approaches FESCO!

If we look at what is considered as employment in China (and therefore subject to a non-tourist visa and payment of taxes), you'll see it depends a lot on the number of days you spend working in this country. Generally, foreign individuals deriving income from an overseas employer with no permanent establishment in China will be tax exempt if they don't physically stay in China for more than 90 days in a year, or 183 days if you're from a country with a tax treaty (Australia has one).

Now, if you're here for more than 183 days a year, you'll need to declare your income - which does not mean you'll have to pay taxes, because the worldwide income which is not derived from any activity in China is subject to income tax only after you spend a couple of years here. However, from the moment you declare taxes in China you should probably also have a visa which reflects your activity here - i.e. not a tourist visa.

In real life, many people that work from home for an overseas entity will not declare the derived income and stay here on a tourist visa. It's up to you to decide how you want to handle the situation.

Merriden said...

Hi Coeurdelion,

My god you provide a good service here!

My question is: I've been given a 180 day X visa, but it's only single entry and I want to change it to double or multi-entry when I get to BJ. Is that possible as far as you know? Would I just have to go the PSB? Or would I have to leave the country and try my luck at just applying for another new visa overseas?

Thanks very much,


Justaguy said...

I have a question - I am extending an L visa for 30 days in Beijing and am trying to deal with the need to have $3000 in the bank. I have an account with Bank of America, which has an office in Beijing that said they could give me a certificate saying that I have enough money.

I called the Visa office to say that I could get a China branch of my bank to certify that I have the funds. The woman that I spoke to said that they could only take a Chinese domestic bank's certificate. I asked her to explain the logic behind the rule, and she couldn't. After a while of trying to understand why, in this year of our lord 2008 - where global financial networks can instantly transfer money from any two points on this earth outside of Antartica, I need to open an account in Beijing to prove that I have access to funds, I told her how stupid I thought her rule was. Either she didn't take it as constructive criticism, or my cell phone coincidentally happened to cut out at that moment.

I'm constitutionally incapable of not telling minor bureaucrats that I think their rules are stupid (although I've gotten better, and now I preface that with an 'I know you don't make the rules, but...') and I'm pretty sure that if I go down to the Visa office and start hurling invectives in my far from perfect Beijing Hua I'll find myself being escorted from the country. So, please save me from myself and tell me - will they really not accept a certificate from an American bank with a Beijing address? I mean, isn't that just silly?

Coeurdelion said...

Hello Mez,

when you get to China, you will need to transform your X visa into a residence permit (similar to a Z visa). You have 30 days to do this at the local PSB; I'm sure your university will assist you with this procedure as this is the standard procedure for all X visa.

With this residence permit, you can travel freely in and out of China during its term of validity.

Have a nice time in China!

Justaguy said...

Oh, and thank you so much for being such an invaluable font of wisdom on the world of Visas....

Coeurdelion said...


I did indeed hear from numerous sources that ONLY account statements from Chinese banks will be accepted. Talking about global financial networks, may I remind you it's still a pretty common procedure in China to open accounts with different branches of the same bank to facilitate transactions?

Silly or not, one thing is sure - it only takes five minutes to open abank account in China, but it may take years before you can get your next visa if you upset a PSB employee.

That being said, I think you should write a short story about your visa struggle - I like your style!

Merriden said...

Hello again Font,

I DO NOT want to question your undoubtedly superior wisdom...

(But...) I was under the impression that if you're going for 180 days or less, your X is made an F (business) and you don't have to get a residence permit (which involves health checks and stuff, right?) but just register with the local PSB. More than 180 days as a student and you get the residence thing. Is that right? AND if that's the case, back to question 1, can I apply to change a single entry to a multiple entry in-country?

Thanks again, very very much,


Coeurdelion said...

Hey Merriden,

I think there has been a misunderstanding!

You said "I've been given a 180 day X visa" so I assumed you had, well, an X visa! If you have an F visa instead, the situation is of course different.

Let's say you're very, very lucky to have gotten a 180 day F in the first place, considering it's only intended for business travelers! I'm pretty sure if you try to apply anywhere else you'll only get much shorter visas. Check DaPonti's post on thebeijinger to see what's out there in Hong Kong right now:

My suggestion would be to talk to your university again and find out if there's no other way to get you a student visa which would save you a lot of hassle. I've only heard that 6 months regulation three times by now so I'm not entirely sure if this is the case for all universities in all cities.

My last idea would be to wait until the Games are over and see if you can get a longer F visa with multiple entries - I know it's not a perfect solution though!

Anonymous said...


1) Do you know if it is allowed to stay at a friend's house in China applying from the Chinese embassy in Berlin? I'm not quite sure since I always find contradictory information.

2) Is it enough to show only the flight booking or do I need to show the original flight ticket I bought?

Thanks a lot for your help and have a nice day!

Coeurdelion said...

It's indeed hard to find out what Berlin wants at the moment. For visa to Beijing, it seems to me that only official hotel bookings are required and you cannot stay with a friend, but only with first degree relatives. If you come to Shanghai or another province, a simple printout from HRS seems to work, too, and private invitations may be accepted.

Concerning the flight, printouts of online bookings are mostly not accepted, and if you use an e-ticket, the 13 digit booking number has to be on it.

Two agencies that are always up to date in Germany are and, you might want to give them a call before you go to the embassy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your quick answer, which is already helpful. Maybe I'll just need to try if an invitation letter works for Shanghai, even though one the company just told me it might not be possible with an invitation, but I might need a hotel booking.
Sorry, another question regarding the length of stay is just coming to my mind: I heard you get a tourist visa for 30 days, but you can prolong it in China. So I was wondering whether this means that I have to book a flight for 30 days and change the dates of my flight in case the prolonging is accepted or if I can directly book one for 60 days. Sorry, I'm sure you have many questions of this type and thanks a lot for your help! :)

Coeurdelion said...

Keep in mind that what you're trying to show to the embassy is that you're a normal tourist! Some tourists might actually stay for longer than 30 days - they will therefore be able to show hotel bookings and matching flight tickets to prove their extensive traveling, and if those documents are consistent, they'll be granted a 60 days visa.

If you have a hard time working on your credibility, I'd rather go for 30 days and book a matching flight which may also be refundable.

Im Klartext: if you apply for 30 days, you have to prove you're leaving after 30 days, either with a flight back home or with one to Hong Kong or another neighbouring country.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your help and suggestions, which are really helpful to me!
Have a good day and good luck with your work :)

Arief said...

Hi.. I'm an Indonesian currently on X visa, expiring 1st of September. I have a JW 202 for next semester, but I was told that I can only extend my visa after 1st September due to some school regulations (I can only pay the school fees on the 3rd/4th September, thus extending my visa on one of those days)

I was planning to go to Hongkong to either get L visa or apply for my X visa using the JW202 form there, but I was told by some agents that it's not possible now due to my nationality.

Now I'm planning to go to Singapore to get my X visa done there, or at least get an L visa. Is that possible?

I'm aware that my country is in the list of 33 countries that the citizens can't apply for a Chinese visa in Hongkong, but does that mean that the only place I can apply for my visa is my home country? Or it's just that I can't do it in Hongkong, but it would be fine in other countries? (such as Singapore)

Hoping to get a reply soon.. I have to make a decision soon but is still confused.

Thanks a lot!

M.dou said...

I haven't pored through this site completely yet, so the answer to this question might be around somewhere, but if my husband were to manage to get a Z visa, would they allow spouses to have the same visa if we show a marriage license?

thanks for all your work!

M.dou said...

Since you're so knowledgeable, I figured I'd just ask about my whole situation, which is pretty complicated. If at all possible, I'd like to just know what our options are.

My husband and I arrived in China on June 29 with year-long multiple entry F visas with maximum duration of 60 days. We were able to get these visas using an invitation letter from an independent arts space that I'm interning with (not the "official" invitation letter you show in your posts).

Now, we are hoping to extend it to at least a 90-day stay, if not longer, because we simply can't afford to exit the country every 60 days (it adds up for two people). However, when I tried to extend our visa, they wanted a copy of the official invitation letter, which I never had because I used a written one to obtain our visas.

To further complicate things, I do have an invitation letter from the Beijing Film Academy, because when we first arrived here I took a 4-week long course there with a study-abroad program run through University of Washington. However, that invitation letter asks for a 45 day stay starting from June 20, 2008. Will this work if I bring this to the PSB to extend my visa for my year long internship?

Also, if I were to ask this independent arts space to apply for a formal invitation letter (which may not be possible because they are not an official danwei and i believe they do not have a business license, as they are non-profit), would I have to apply for a new F visa?

Also, my husband has been teaching English with New Oriental. Would he be able to get a Z visa through them? and if so, could I get the same as his spouse?

I know this is complicated; if you could give me some feedback about what my options are that would be SO helpful.

Thanks again for all your work on this stuff!

M.dou said...

Oh, and to add to that last question: I realize we may not get our visas extended before our 60 days is up on Aug 28, but we've also heard that it will become easier to extend in October, after the Olympics/Paralympics are over. Do you have any thoughts on whether this will be the case? Thanks again!

justaguy said...

I was afraid you'd say that.

I'm reluctant to open a bank account here just for the hassle involved. I'd have to take a cash advance on my credit card to get the $3k in the account and with both the Chinese and American bank charging me 4% or so, it would be cheaper to get a flight to Shenzhen, jump across the border and back.

Luckily, I have a multiple entry visa. So, I'm thinking of flying to Shenzhen, taking a ferry to Macau for a day-long gambling binge, coming back to SZ that night an flying back to Beijing the next morning.

My question is this - can you return to China on the same day that you've left? Or will I have to stay a day or two outside the Motherland before I go back?

If I strike it big on the Blackjack table, dinners on me when I get back.

Anonymous said...

I am China with an L visa (single entry) and I want to go to Mongolia for two or three weeks. After that I have to come back to China, because my flight back to Germany is from Shanghai.
Is it possible to transfer an single entry L visa to an double entry visa? Or what can I do else?
Thanks a lot for your help

Coeurdelion said...


the regulation says indeed that if you're from one of the 33 countries the only place where you can apply for a visa (of any type) is your home country. I would therefore be careful before you go to Singapore and make sure you have an agency which confirms the extension is feasible, and I'm not 100% sure you'll find one.

Another possibility you might want to look into is Macao from where a friend from Cuba (also a very difficult visa country) recently got a one week L visa - not great, but enough for him, and maybe they could get you an X visa, too? Make sure you get directly in touch with the Commissioner's Office over there to see if there's a possibility.

One last thing - when you say you would "at least" like to have an L visa, please be aware that you'll probably have to leave China again as you cannot convert it into an X visa (as far as I know) in Beijing.

Coeurdelion said...


this is indeed a complex situation. Let's take it step by step:

1) The optimum situation would be to have your art gallery get you two (or at least one of you) a proper work visa. They really should have some kind of legal status here, and if there's any way to apply pressure on them do it. There are many non profit businesses here and this is no excuse to stand on grounds of illegality.

2) You most probably won't be able to extend the maximum duration of each stay of your visas with the documents you have, even after the Games are over. You're wite lucky already to have 12 months visas!

3) You could try to get completely new F visas from an agency after the Paralympic Games are over, but nobody knows if the hassle free one year multiple entry F will return; I doubt it.

4) Your husband should ask his school if they can get him a Z visa; if yes, you are eligible for the same residence permit he gets but you're not allowed to work on it.

5) Once again, if the gallery employs you for a whole year, internship or not, non profit or not, they should get you a Z visa and residence permit! I guess their definition of non profit is no taxes, too? Please be aware that you personally are responsible for declaring your income to the authorities (which you cannot really do if your employer doesn't officially exist), and if the Tax Bureau ever gets notice that you don't live just on love and fresh air it's you who gets in trouble in the first place.

Coeurdelion said...


I know it's a real hassle. If you're up for an adventure of the other kind, you can also get your exit stamp in Mongolia, for just about 400RMB!

Here's a detailed description of the Mongolian visa run, complete with train timetables and bus numbers:

There's no minimum duration that you'll need to stay outside of China - just get the exit stamp, turn around and ask for the next entry stamp.

Good luck at the tables (or in Erlian) and let me know how it went!

Coeurdelion said...


you can ask at the PSB if they'll change your visa into a double entry one but I doubt they would do this. You therefore have two possibilities:

1) When you're in Mongolia, you apply for a new visa to China at the consulate in Ulan Bataar (make sure you call them beforehand to find out if this is still possible for non-Mongolian citizens)

2) When you go back to Germany, you just fly via Shanghai, meaning you don't leave the "connecting flights" section of the airport and therefore formally don't even enter China.

Have a nice trip!

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion,

Thanks a lot for your quick response and your suggestions. I think I will first ask at the PSB here in Beijing. Hope they have some English speaking staff. I'll post the result after my visit there.

Thanks again and keep on this very, very helpful blog.

All the best, Wogni

Arief said...

Hi Coeurdelion,

Do u happen to know when will the visa restrictions for those 33 countires be lifted?


Coeurdelion said...


nobody knows for now if any of the restrictions will be lifted later this year. I heard some might be eased mid-October but I really cannot promise anything.

Anonymous said...

dear all,

i was reading quite a lot on this page, but i have still an open question. actually i am in china with a business visa (double entry, 30 days). I will work here as an expert starting from 01.09.2008 for an european country. i already have an appartement here, did the registration at the police station and did the health check. as far as i know, my employer already asked for the working license. now i am a little bit confused about how to get the z-visa. do i need to go back to germany? furthermor would be grat to know, if i need to leave china within 30 days in order to avoid any overstay of my visa.

looking forward to your reply. thanks a lot.

Coeurdelion said...

Hallo there,

where you have to apply for your Z visa will depend on the documents your employer gives you. This should be the greenish A4 paper as well as an invitation letter. At the very top of the invitation, it says at which embassy you should apply for your visa. You should ask your employer to make sure he gives you an invitation letter for Hong Kong if you don't want to go back home. You then take the letter, the green page, your health check, flight ticket to China and some pictures along and apply for the visa abroad.

The only way to avoid leaving China completely is if your work permit says you're the GM, Vice GM or Chief Representative (or any legal representative) of your company. In this case, your employer should be able to get the Z visa for you right here.

And yes, you'll need to leave China at least for five minutes after 30 days if you want to avoid overstaying!

Viel Erfolg dabei und bei Fragen einfach wieder melden!

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for the reply. now i am feeling much better and i will aks my company to give me the requested letter and try to get the z-visa in china. just one other question. when i have the z-visa i need to apply for the residence permit within 30 days. do i need to give my passport awy then? because i need to travel to europe for a business trip in october. if i have to leave the country after having the z-visa is it possible to enter again (e.g. on my business visa which still has one entry left? or should i enter first again on the business visa after having applied for the z-visa and then enter with the z-visa after my trip? thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion,
I have a question about the health exam. I recently tested positive for herpes. I am in the early process of getting a Z Visa, but I have to get a health exam here in the States first, and I'm worried that if my doctor mentions the herpes or checks the 'venereal diseases' box that i will not get the visa. I've heard that they won't test for it once I get to China. Will this prevent me from being allowed into China>

Thank you...

Coeurdelion said...


yes you will need to give your passport away for around 4-5 days at some point after you get back. Your Z visa will be cancelled and a new sticker put in your passport which is the residence permit.

Also, when you get your Z visa, your previous visa will be cancelled so you won't be able to use it anymore.

When you get your Z visa, just try to have it converted into a residence permit as quickly as possible! You get a receipt from the PSB which allows you to travel nationwide, but not internationally.

Coeurdelion said...

Concerning the herpes: nobody really knows which illnesses are knock out criteria and which ones are not. It's true that in China you won't be tested for it and that what counts in the end is the Chinese health check. However, if I was you and knew my doc well I'd try not to run any risks...

Anonymous said...

Hello Coeurdelion!
Do you know any information about getting a visa in S.Korea? is it possible to get it through an agency there? if so which documents are needed? I tried calling several travel agencies but they just hung up (I guess because they couldn't speak English)

Coeurdelion said...

It is currently NOT advisable to apply in Seoul! It was reported a couple of times that they only accept applicants with a South Korean residence / work permit.

Please refer to thebeijinger's thread "Stranded in Korea" ( to read about recent experiences.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much for your help :)

michael robson said...

I have a question that I don't think has been answered anywhere.

I have a real job offer from a real company, but they are Canadian. They want me to work in China, and do sales. An extremely common case. But surely they can't provide the Chinese documentation (cuz they're not a Chinese company), etc, so how do I get a Z Visa?

Email me, pls

Coeurdelion said...

Hello Michael,

this is indeed a common case but there's some thinking your company forgot to do. If a company wants to do any kind of business in China, including sales, after sales or maintenance, it needs to have some kind of legal form here.

For companies who send a salesperson to China (and this person can only arrange sales contracts between the headquarter and the Chinese client and NOT issue invoices in RMB), a Representative Office is the most common legal situation. If more activities are involved, a WFOE might be the way to go for you.

There's a lot of information on how to set up a representative office in China to be found on the internet, and I advise you and your company to go through all the options and take a decision depending on what you business plans with China are.

To come back to your visa question, after your company chose what legal status they will take they will also have all necessary registration documents for you to get a proper work and residence permit.

David Johnson said...


First off, AMAZING website. Great work.

I have a couple of questions though which I would hugely appreciate if you could help me with.

I came to Beijing in March, on an F visa (180 days). I have finished the University course I came here to do, but would really like to stay till mid-December to keep working on my Chinese (with a tutor though, not at university - hence I don't think I can extend my F visa).

So I think I need a L visa, then extend it twice, which should take me up till mid-December. Does this sound like the best option?

If L visa is the best option, then I need to go to Hong Kong don't I? From what I can gather from other questions, when you apply for a L visa in HK you need to show both hotel reservations and flights out of China.

However, I have rented an apartment here in Beijing until mid-December. Does this matter? Can I just show them the lease?

Also, I don't want to book flights out of China, as I want to stay here till December by extending my visa.

Is there anyway to get around this?

please help...

thanks so much.

Coeurdelion said...

Hey David,

things do not exactly look easy for you indeed. First, you won't be able to extend your F visa like you presumed already. second, you only get a student visa if you have a university which invites you. So yes, a tourist visa seems like the best option for you.

Some of the agencies listed on my site (like FBT) don't require that you bring hotel and flight bookings if you'd like to avoid the trouble with lease contracts and outgoing flights. However, nobody will be able to promise that you can extend your visa here at the end of September! I suggest you inquire with the agency and the Beijing PSB just before you go in any case.

If you're lucky, regulations change after the Olympics and you might be able to secure a 3 or 6 months F visa.

Good luck!

David Johnson said...

Thanks so much for that information...

I have literally just received a phone call from a visa consultant here in Beijing (who previously told me that I would have to go to HK to get an L as he couldn't get me an extension of an F visa). He told me that he had just been informed that things have changed and that he can now get me an extension of the F visa (for a fee, of course!)

Does this maybe mean that the olympic restrictions have been lifted? Have you heard anything?

You mentioned that I might be able to secure a 3 or 6 month F visa. Do you mean get one while in Beijing, or in Hong Kong? (through an agent?)

If it is the case that the visa restrictions have been lifted, does that mean I can get an extension of my F visa myself by going to the entry-exit place in Beijing?

thank you for all your amazing help...

David said...


I am not sure with my entries. I had a F-Visa issued in Berlin. I entered China on the 5th August and now I extended my F-Visa in Shanghai until the 31st October. So the old visa is cancelled and a new one is in my passport with the following text:

Entries: 1
Issue Date: 01 Sep. 08
Valid Until: 31. Oct. 08

There is no date like "enter before", maybe because I am already in???

I want to go for holiday on 4th October and so I will leave China and want to come back on the 16th October. Can I leave China with this visa and come back? Or will they cross this entry at the airport, when I will leave.

Please help me...

Coeurdelion said...

Hey David,

it seems indeed that since September 1st, at least some agents in Beijing claim they can extend existing F visas by one to six months (although they claim it's quite pricey). I'd wait to see if it's really true but it might be an option again!

That being said, you most probably won't be able to extend your visa alone because you'll have to provide an invitation letter nonetheless.

David said...

Yes but I have my extension already since today...I want just know, if I can leave the country with this visa and then enter again. I got one entry but issued in China...that is my question

David Johnson said...

Hi again,

sorry to bother you once more. You've been very helpful.

You mentioned that I probably won't be able to extend my visa alone as I'll have to provide an invitation letter. What do you mean by this? Is this a standard invitation letter from a company/university?

I know this may sound like a stupid question, but if I managed to get a company to employ me for a few months, would they be able to write an invitation letter that I could take to the entry-exit place and use to extend my current F visa? Or is it more complicated than this?

thanks once again...

David said...

ah now I know why I did not understand the answer, because we have two David here....

Can you help me withe the question about my new visa, which was issued in Shanghai? see my last post...

Many thanks in advance...

Coeurdelion said...

David with the entry question:

yes you can use the visa as intended, and your one entry will NOT be crossed out when you leave. You can come back and stay until the end of October. Habe a look at the "How to understand my visa" page for clarification on the number of entries when you get your visa in China. No worries!

Coeurdelion said...

David Johnson (the other David),

have a look at "How to... get an invitation letter for a business visa" to find out more about what this document needs to look like. An invitation letter from a university (called JW202 form) gets you an X visa and subsequently a residence permit for the duration of your studies. If a company fully employs you, they'll apply for a work permit for you, which gets you a residence permit for the time of your employment.

You could also try to get an F visa with an invitation letter from a company, if this invitation letter follows the official format. It's currently pretty difficult for companies to get one of those though!

L going for F then we´ll see said...

Do you know if L-visas can be changed into F-visas in Beijing now, and how much this will cost?

Coeurdelion said...

It seems that some agencies are already able to change an L visa into a 3 months single entry F. Try contacting for the price.

Michael said...


I have one question concering a Tourist Visa to China. I live in Shanghai and my girlfriend from Germany would like to visit me here. I have heard though, that this would not be possible (only for close relatives, but we are not married).

Is there any chance, that she can get a Visa and live in my place (like me sending an invitation letter or something) Do you have heard anything about that? Do you know, whether there is a difference between the embassy in Berlin and the conulate in Frankfurt?

I would be really happy, if you could help me on this one!!


Coeurdelion said...

Hello Michael,

personal invitations currently are a hit-or-miss thing and you can never predict if it's going to work. If you have some time I would definitely give it a try as more people from Shanghai have reported that it worked - including Germans. You can have a look at their experiences here:

If you click on "How to get an invitation letter for a tourist visa" on my website you'll find a template and list of documents to provide.

Generally, Munich seems to be the most severe consulate, followed by Hamburg and Frankfurt, with Berlin being the most flexible one. Agencies like visaexpress might also be able to help.

Last but not least, it seems online hotel bookings are widely accepted for visas to Shanghai - and they can be cancelled. Be careful though as some visa officers won't find you credible if you claim you're staying as a tourist in Shanghai for more than three weeks.

Good luck!

Michael said...

Thanks for your unbelievably fast answer!

So I already checked the website of visaexpress and others, but they all write, is's mandatory to be either married or book a hotel. But so you think I should not be intimidated by it and just give it a try in Berlin?

Michael said...

and one more thing. doesn't it look weird to the officer at the embassy, that if it would not work with invitation letter, we come back two weeks later and now pretend it's a 4 week tourist stay in hotel?

Coeurdelion said...


I'd do the following:

1) try with the personal invitation at the embassy

2) if your visa is denied, book a hotel and use the booking to get a visa through an agency for only a slightly higher price.

You should also call the agencies before you start - many of them can't keep up with the pace of changes in China, and website information might be outdated.

Christian said...


first of all great website! Thanks for helping out so many people.

My situation: I came on a tourist visa (which expired allready). This is not a problem because I worked for the Olympics and received an accreditation, which serves as a multiple entry visa until the 23rd of September. I want to stay longer (meaning long term) in China. Can I get an F visa here in China or HK with that accreditation?

Thanks a lot for your help,


Feester said...


My husband is working in Shanghai and my kids and I have a residence visa to live in China.
In the past, my husband’s company had applied for my mother’s visa. My mother has a US
passport. She has been in China on and off from 6 to 8 months for the last five years. Each time, the company had applied for an F visa. Her current F visa expires Sept 21, 2008. My husband has changed jobs within his company. The new HR group will not help my mom extend, or apply for another visa. Neither the old HR people nor the new HR people seem to know why my mom had an F visa to begin with. What options does she have? If she leaves the country to apply for a visitor L visa, must she go back to the US? Or can she go to HK, Seoul, or Taiwan?

Coeurdelion said...


while in the past it was sure easier to get a hassle-free one year F visa, your mom also has the right to extend a tourist visa for a longer period of time for familiy visiting purposes.

To do that, she'll first need to get a standard (30 days) tourist visa from abroad (HK should be good but call ahead), which she will be able to extend at the Shanghai PSB upon provision of proof of kinship (make sure she ticks the "visiting family" box on the application form.

Seoul and Taiwan are not good places to get a tourist visa, but positive reports came from Tokyo for example.

Another solution would be to contact a Shanghai visa agency and ask them if they're again able to extend F visas. This is definitely more cost intensive but she won't have to leave China.

Coeurdelion said...


I'm not entirely sure about how the accreditations are dealt with but usually agencies can provide 3 month F visas if you're here on a tourist visa. Those have a price, though - usually around 3000-5000 RMB. In the long run, you should see what exactly you'll be doing in Beijing and get a student visa if you study, a work visa if you work and so on.

Scott Milton said...


I just realized that I booked my flight to china for 31 days, will there be a problem getting a tourist 'L' visa for more than 30 days? We thought that the visas were valid for up to 90 days, so never even thought about how long we were going to ther for. I am Canadian, and will apply for the visa at the consulate in Vancouver. Do you think it is easier/better to go through an agency rather than doing it on our own?

Thanks very much for any help. Cheers!

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Scott,

if with the visa application you provide the tickets you booked you should easily get a longer visa (usually 60 days). As long as you can prove you're a legitimate tourist (i.e. not illegaly working in China) you will have no problems whatsoever, even without an agency.

And if all else fails and you only get 30 days, you can extend your visa here in China, too.

Scott Milton said...


Thanks for the info, it makes me a little calmer about it all. Also, I was told I had to show official hotel reservations for EVERY night of our stay in China, but I only booked the first week and was going to improvise/find something else for the remainder of the time. (We are going to Yangshuo and there are many options for lodging.) Do you know of any tips that can help us out with this bit of visa hoop jumping??

Will they give me a 30 day visa even though my flights are for more than 30 days? (extending a visa in china is simple?)

Thanks for replying so fast, you are a valuable resource and I know you must be very appreciated by many travelers!



Coeurdelion said...

Hey Scott,

the embassy will most probably issue a visa sufficient for your duration of stay. However, it's true they're a bit picky right now and might want to know from start to finish where you're staying.

One solution to this problem could be to make a longer booking with your first hotel or make another booking with a hotel in Yangshuo which you can cancel afterwards, in case you decide to stay somewhere else.

Good luck!

David Johnson (again...) said...


One last question, or two. You have been so helpful.

I looks like I can't extend my F visa in Beijing, so I am going down the Hong Kong L-visa route. Just wanted to know roughly how long it takes to process, as I would like to book return flights from Beijing relatively soon.

If I go through one of the travel agents you suggest, do you think it will be done in a day? two? (Also, you have suggested quite a few agents, which should I try first?)

Also, and I know this is hard for you to answer, how likely do you think it is that I will be able to successfully extend my L visa twice, whilst staying in Beijing? (I'll make sure I have all the money in a BoC account etc)

Thanks so much for all your help...


netbang said...

David, I was there a couple of weeks ago. Most hostels should be able to sort you out with a 30 day L visa in 24 hours but they charge a bit more than the travel agents. Most of the agents listed on this site are in walking distance and I expect these days they can all sort you out with the same visa within 24 hours as well. Just note down a couple of addresses, check a map, and try them out. If you're unlucky enough to be staying in ChungKing mansions then R&B travel is on the 2nd floor there... quite handy. I just got my visa through the hostel though because my company was paying for it. So far I haven't heard of anyone having problems extending their visas in Beijing as long as they have enough cash in a BOC account, a return flight ticket, and hotel reservations etc. Agents in Beijing can probably sort you out with this info as well (? Don't quote me on this... Coeurdelion?). good luck.

Stephan said...


Amazing blog! :-)

In my case it's a quite tricky situation.
I'm going to do an 3-months lasting internship in Shanghai starting on October 1st. My flight to Shanghai goes out on September 26th (from Germany) so that I'll arrive in Pudong on September 28th. My return flight is booked for January 1st in 2009.
If I'm calculating right, it will be 96 days. The representative office of my bank (where I'll do the internship) just told me, that they can't get an official invitation for a business visa. They told me to apply for a tourist visa for 30 days.
So is it possible to do an internship using a tourist visa, which will be extended in China?

And what about a journey to germany in the meantime? (mid-november for c. 1 week) Do i have to apply for an extra visa, when i'm coming back to china from the home journey? (because of entering the chinese country again?)

Thanks in advance for your help!

Best regards,

Coeurdelion said...

Hey David (Johnson; again),

netbang is right. Some of the agencies (like JTA)require more documents and bookings than others (like FBT) and you should be fine in two days with all of them.

I think you have an 80% chance of being able to extend your visa twice if you're from an uncomplicated (=western) country. In a couple of weeks, you should also be able to switch from L to F without having to leave Beijing which gives you one more option for a longer stay.

Coeurdelion said...


I saw someone already answered part of your question over at I'll post my 2 cents there!

Stephan said...

Yes, you're right. Thanks a lot! And thanks for you comment at as well! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion, I posted this question on another page then realized my question should be asked here.
I just got a job offer here in Beijing (Siemens) and they told me that I need to go back to my home country (USA) to get the Z visa which is just ridiculous!
I am wondering how netbang got his Z visa from Hong Kong when it is said that you can only get it done in your home country?
In addition to that, there was this note from my new company about Z visa's getting issued in HK which I'm posting below:

For application of working permit & residence permit (long-term working visa), we'll apply employment license and Z visa invitation letter for you at first, to apply Z visa in the Chinese embassy in your country ( Z visa can not be issued in Hong Kong since April.1.2008 according to the Chinese Authority)

Can I ask my new company to add HK on my invitation letter so I can do it there instead? If so, can you recommend any agencies that will help take care of Z visa's? I looked at your "reliable visa agency in HK" section but most of them doesn't service Z visa's or they have a note saying they no longer provide them.

Please help me!! I've settled down in Beijing and there's no way I'll be able to go back to the US to get this done!

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Aaron,

what defines where you should apply for your visa is the invitation letter that your company issues to you. At the very top, it indicated at which consulate or embassy it can be used. You therefore need to ask your company to give you (along with all those other documents) an invitation letter for Hong Kong and not for the States.

As long as you have the right documents, you don't need to go through an agency in Hong Kong - you can go to the Commissioner's Office yourself.

Anonymous said...

Thank u very much for your help Coeurdelion!

I thought going through an agency was an easier and faster choice cause i read somewhere here that the commisioner's office is usually very packed and full of applications which takes a longer time to approve.
So if I have all the docs, the best and fastest choice is still to go to the commissioner's office?
Now I wonder if my company will give me any problems about giving me the invitation letter to get my Z visa in Hongkong since they told me that I could only do it in the US and nowhere else. What a pain...
Thank u again for your help, i'm so relieved I don't have to spend thousands flying back to the US!

czhteck said...

Great Site wish I had found it 6 months ago,would have saved me a lot of time. My question which I have never seen asked before or any details on any government's sites.
I was married in Kaifeng 28th July and now live in Zhengzhou permanently I hope.
I am a retied Australian and could only get a 60 days L visa at the time I apply in Australia.. On arrival at Zhengzhou Airport immigration when I told them I came here to get married they stamped my passport with a extra 30 days giving me 90 days
Do not ask me how after reading this site were most can only get a 2 months extension if they are lucky ,my wife after bulling the immigration department here in Zhengzhou I got a extension to 22nd March 2009. We are now about to buy a house here.
My main question is what visa can I apply for being married to a Chinese citizen.or what is my position here on a L visa
I can not see any where if I can apply for a permanent visa to live here.
Thanks for your help

Coeurdelion said...

Dear Ray,

when you're married to a Chinese citizen, you can apply for a one year extension of your current L visa. You just need to take the usual extension documents plus your marriage certificate to the PSB where your wife has her hukou.

You can comfortably keep this situation for as long as you want (you might need to get a new short term L visa once in a while abroad though). Your official status is "family reunion" so as long as you don't work you're fine.

Applying for permanent residency will be tough as you'll have to prove you've been actively contributing to China's economy AND living here for over five years in a row. In practice, permanent residency (a.k.a. "the green card") is only awarded to a handful of foreigners every year and usually to people with outstanding commitment to China's development.

GL said...


I am going to work in Shenzhen and my company is applying a Z-visa for me. My husband will be going to China with me. What type of visa will he need? We were told to get him a Tourist Visa, L visa. Is that correct? He is planning to look for a job in China.

Thanks in advance.

Coeurdelion said...

Hi GL,

accompanying spouses and family members are entitle to "dependent" Z visas / residence permits. Get them here on a tourist visa, and when you're done with the work permit and have your residence permit, you can have a copy of the same residence permit in your husband's passport, with the same duration as yours.

Alternatively, your husband can also ask for a year-long extension of his tourist visa at the PSB where you live; he'll need to bring your marriage certificate.

Please be aware that whenever he starts working, he should apply for a work permit for himself.

Have fun in Shenzhen!

GL said...

Wow, that was fast! Much faster than my co's HR in China! ;)

Thanks heaps!

Anonymous said...

I will be having my medical exam in Canada. Regarding the x-ray and ECG: Do I need to provide the actual x-ray and ECG chart, and mail them to China? Or is the doctor's assessment of these sufficient? I don't think the x-ray lab will let me have the actual film. Probably the same is true with the ECG lab and that chart.

Also, I don't think doctors here have stamps like the ones in China. Would a stamp with her name on it be sufficient, or would that be cause for China to return the medical report it to me as unsatisfactory?

Thanks for your help. This blog is a great source of info.

Coeurdelion said...

Hello to Canada,

I also did my health check abroad and it turned out i was not necessary to provide the actual X-ray and ECG charts simply because you'll be doing all this again once you get to China. However, they did ask for the lab printout of the blood count.

When it comes to the stamp, the authorities I was dealing with at that time specifically requested a red stamp on ALL pages and on your picture on page 1. My doctor's stamp wasn't round either but I brought a red stamp pad and the combination worked out for me.

If you want to be 100% you can also try and call the Chinese embassy in Vancouver; they might be able to give you the address of a clinic or doctor who does is just the way they want it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Coeurdelion

If any other Canadians read this: I am in the Toronto area and the Chinese Embassy there told me that they do not have a list of doctors who can/will perform the exam. However, they did email the medical exam form to me. Coeurdelion, you should be happy to know that it is the same form you have linked to your website :)


Maria said...


I am planning to go to to Hong Kong and afterwards to Shanghai. Therefore I will apply for a tourist China visa in Hong Kong.
I know that for the visa application the flight ticket from Hong Kong to Shanghai is required. But as it comes cheaper for me, I would like to fly not directly from HK but from Shen Zhen (crossing the HK-China border by bus).

Can you tell me if it is also ok if for the visa application I hand in my flight ticket from Shen Zhen? And are there any other tickets required (e.g. the busticket?)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Coeurdelion,

I just wanted to tell you I got a two months visa from the Berlin embassy for Shanghai with an invitation letter and the necessary documents from a friend (not a relative and not married). So maybe they are becoming a bit less restrictive now.
Thanks for your helpful suggestions on your blog and good luck with your work!

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Maria,

it depends a bit on how strictly the authorities will handle your request but I would guess some kind of ticket into China surely would come in handy! In the worst case, just book a refundable flight to Beijing and use it for the application, or get your visa through an agency which will provide all the necessary documents for you. Times are tough so my guess would be you'll have a hard time telling them you'll just "walk over".

Coeurdelion said...

Hello Berliner,

thanks a lot for this information. Let's hope this is generally the case now so that tourist activity can pick up again where we left it!

Have fun in Shanghai!

American Boy said...


Thanks for this awesome site.

I am an American who is 23 years-old and a recent university graduate. However, I have had extensive and full-time work experience throughout my university career. I have been offered a great job with a MNC in Beijing, but the HR department has told me about the "two year experience" rule. They are helping me a lot, but it is a new situation for them since they have not made any hires since the regulations starting getting more strict.

Do you have any suggestions about how to get over this hurdle? Any agencies you suggest working with or any way to structure your proposal to the Labor Bureau in a way that they will look more favorably?

Basically, I spent two years studying in China before university, majored in a China-related discipline, have worked as a Chinese-English interpreter while in school full-time and did all my thesis research in China on multiple study trips...My interests and qualifications are very China-focused, but this rule is giving me and people like me a lot of pains in our asses.

What advice can you impart for myself and my friends in similar situations?

Thanks for your help!

Maria said...

Hi Coeurdelion,

thank you for your answer!
Do you know if the CTS in Hong Kong will provide me with the necessary booking documents?
As far as I know it is the only one agency which can do a same-day-visa (which would be important for me).

Trying to call them whole day but the line is always occupied...

Thank you once again!!

Coeurdelion said...

Hi American Boy,

I know this rule is giving people a really hard time especially when they're from countries where you graduate at a pretty young age.

In this situation, only your employer can try to put pressure on the authorities, and a lot will depend on how credibly he does it and how good his relationships are.

Other employers have reported positive experiences with letters addressed to the relevant Bureau of Commerce, stating exactly why it is that they have to employ you - due to an educational background only available abroad, languages you speak, or previous employment with the same company.

They should try to paint a picture which leaves you as the only possible choice and clearly rules Chinese applicants out.

Good luck and let me know how it went!

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Maria,

I'm really not sure about CTS - when I searched through the old entries all I could find were people saying they can't get in touch with them! I'm pretty confident though that other agencies can provide same day service, too.

Jules said...

Hey everyone!

Visa history first: I'm American, got an L-visa in February which was quickly changed to a 6-month F- visa in Guangxi, and then I got an L-visa (30 days)in Xinjiang a month ago. Now the PSB in Shanghai says they can only give me a ten day extension (is this the infamous "red stamp"?).

After getting this, what are chances of doing a sucessful visa run in Hong Kong? I talked to the US embassy and was told that after I get the 10 day extension, I might not be able to "renew" in Hong Kong. Anyone had this situation before? What can I expect?

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Jules,

my guess would be that you're making authorities suspicious with your frequent changes between F and L, especially because you seem to get them in different places each time. The officer's thought must have been that you're neither here for (tax paying) business nor a real student or anything else.

Did you get a star sign (*) where the number of days should be on your visa or does it actually say "10"? The star really is their way of saying you have ten days to get out of here and shouldn't try to come back. I've heard of people given the star that managed to come back from HK but it usually involves an agency and an substantial amount of money.

I think your chances may be a little higher if you got a "proper" ten day extension but if I was you I wouldn't try the L-F-L game again and rather make an effort to get a "real" visa which is appropriate for your situation.

David Johnson (again...) said...


Me again. Just got back from HK, where I used FBT. Handed the passport in at 2pm, got it back the next day at 5pm. All very easy.

But, only 30 days. I would like to stay for longer, so am looking into the extension options. However, you previously mentioned that I may be able to change my L to a longer-term F visa. How would I go about doing this?

many thanks for all you help...


Coeurdelion said...

Hey David,

good to know FBT is still recommendable.

You can now extend your L visa twice at the PSB or change to an F visa. You'll need an invitation letter of the latter option, which to my knowledge only very few companies can provide. In Beijing, I only know for certain the can change your L into a 6 months multiple entry F, the last quotation I heard for this was around 5500 RMB. Prices might drop after October 17th though, which yesterday was again quoted as the day where "everything goes back to normal".

Good luck!

Hu said...

Hi, thanks for all the info provided.

My case:

I am Chinese from Zhejiang province, currently studying in US. My boy friend is a US citizen. We are planning to go to China in January 2009. I have checked out the websites (official and agents)for document requirements for my boy friend. He will likely stay in my parents' place, not in a hotel. Can I provide an invitation letter for him (while I am actually in US)? In your template, it is specific for visiting Beijing, and it includes the police registration etc. of the person who provides the letter. What should I provide in the invitation letter?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I will be getting a Z-visa and then follow all the procedures to get the residence permit as mentioned in yr blog. My question is whether my wife and my daughter also have to go thru the same procedure from Z visa to residence permit? Pls advise

Coeurdelion said...

Hello Hu,

when your boyfriend applies for a visa, he probably won't need to provide any proof of accomodation anymore because this requirement seems to have been lifted just a couple of days ago.

However, if he does, he can also present an invitation by your parents, with a copy of their ID cards and hukou.

Coeurdelion said...

Hi there,

your wife and daughter will not need to go through the entire process. When you get your residence permit (at the very end of the process, after you travel abroad to get the Z visa), you can apply for dependent residence permits for them. You'll need to provide your marriage certificate and they'll also need to go through the health check, and the authorities sometimes ask for a letter from your company saying they agree with you coming with your family.

Anonymous said...

Hey Coeurdelion,
I've hear the travel visa rules are back to normal, you heard anything about F visas??


Coeurdelion said...

Hey there - I know - I also spoke to thebeijinger about it:

As far as we know, some agencies can already provide F visas again, but it's definitely not back to normal yet. Wait for Oct 17th to happen when regulations might be adjusted again, but I doubt everything will get back to what it was like before the Games.

Maria said...

hey Coeurdelion!

Got some news about the same-day-visa. I called many ageniecies in HK (finally I even reached CTS) and they all tell the same: no same-day-visa until Oct 18th. So now I will apply for my visa at R'n'B agency (visa within 2 days. collection 9.00 a.m. - pick up 11.30 a.m. next day).
Will let you know how things went!

SKY said...

Hi there Coeurdelion,
Quick question, I'm about to return to the U.S to apply for a Z visa, my company has asked me to find out if a copy of the invitation letter would be acceptable at the chinese embassy/consulate. Checked their official site but they don't say in detail if they require Original or Copy.
Please advice! Reason why they want to give me a copy letter is because they're rushing to get the 2 docs to me before my visa expires which is really soon!
Thank you!!

Emma said...

Dear Nadine,
I hope you nice holidays last week!

I'd like to have more info about student visa (X):

Now I have a tourist one (L) renewed for twice until November and I want to change it to X through a language school.

Also I have to renew my passport this month at my Embassy in Beijing. I read in your blog that I just will have to take it to the PSB to transfer my visa.

- Do you think this way will be fine or I should leave the country at any time?
- Can I have a multi-entry X visa without leaving the country?

I hope it's clear.
Thanks for your help!

Emma said...

Sorry, I forgot to ask also about the residence permit once I get the X visa:

- is it the same procedure as with the Z visa?

Thnx a lot!

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Sky,

unless rules have changed, the original of the invitation letter is required by most Chinese embassies abroad - you'll ned to have it FedExed to the US.

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Emma,

thanks for your post.
Concerning your plans to extend your tourist visa, this should be no problem as long as you can provide the necessary documents and bank statement.

About your X visa, there is the possibility to change your L visa directly into a residence permit without leaving China. For this process, you'll need:

- Passport (original)
- 2-inch photo
- Registration form of temporary residence (take original for show)
- Visa or Residence Permit Application Form (stamped by the University)
- Health certificate (take original for show)
- Letter of Admission (by your University, take original for show)
- Letter from your University to explain you need to apply for RP
- JW202 form

Formally, you won't even need an X visa if you stay in China - you'll just jump that step. However, please inquire with your school/the PSB to make sure this process is possible!

Emma said...

Dear Nadine,

Thanks a lot for your prompt reply.

Just 1 more question:
Does it have to be a University or can it be a private language school teaching Chinese?

Thanks again!

Coeurdelion said...

Hey Emma,

it doesn't matter what kind of school it is as long as they can provide you with the JW202 form.

Typically, only larger schools and universities can issue this document, so make sure you inquire with any prospective institute!

Maria said...

hello Coeurdelion!

me again. Just wanted to let you know: last week I went to the R'n'B agency in Hong Kong and got my tourist visa without any problems. collection 9.00 a.m. - pick up 1.00 p.m. next day, 620 HK dollars for one entry with german passport.
the agent was very kind and compentent - highly recommendable!

Coeurdelion said...

Hi Maria,

great, thanks for sharing! I'm glad everything worked out for you.

Have a nice time in China!

Anonymous said...

I have visited my girlfriend in beijing(april to end of july,i have a one year multiple entry l visa and am going back to beijing in november,we will marry in the last four months of my visa(it expires in feb 2).if i wish to apply for a z visa..i have all my papers i need,do i have to go back to the states..or can i go to hongkong now the "games"are over.and thank you for your reply.D

M.dou said...

Hi Nadine,

quick question: if i have a multiple entry visa and need to leave the country to "refresh" it (every 60 days, in my case), does a trip to Taiwan count as exiting the country?

thanks in advance for your help!

Coeurdelion said...

I can't promise but it seems that inofficially you can get a Z visa in HK.

If you call the Commissioner's Office in HK, they will tell you explicitely that they don't process any Z visas for people which don't have a HK ID. Agencies say they don't process Z either. On the other hand, people of "Western" mationalities keep coming back from HK with brand new Z visas.

I guess it's just the official wording to prevent masses of Z visa tourists.

Coeurdelion said...


first, there are no direct flights to Taiwan so you'll need to pass by another country, which will also give you the exit stamp. Secondly, Taiwan visas are printed on a sheet of paper separate from your passport which won't be accepted by the Chinese authorities.

Back and forth said...

Love the site!
After things return to normallish mid october;

will it be possible to get visa-extensions with more than 0-entry, and what papers do I need for that?

vince said...

Well the 17th has come and no changes in visa rules for Hong Kong.Agencies due to have meeting today.Cancelled til next week sometim not known.I am getting 30 days and going home.Renew in mainland easier and cheaper.Bye bye Hong Kong

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the truly valuable service that you provide here!

I am in a very unique situation... I am here in China already 9 years on yearly F multi visas, which changed earlier this year to L visas... thanks to the Olympics!

I am in China working for myself, sourcing various products for clients, writing a book & taking photos. No income from China.

I will marry my Chinese g/f early next yr. I know I can then get a 12mth multi L visa from the PSB in her home city.

We will open a company in her name, and I will also work the business with her. As it is such a small biz, what is the best visa for this situation?

I can't find any info relating to small biz owners!

Thanks & regards,

Coeurdelion said...

Hello Mike,

first of all, let me tell you you're not exactly in a great starting position. On F visas for 9 years? And I guess during all this time you never paid any taxes? Are you aware that after five years already, your world income (derived from China or not!) is entirely taxable in China?

I made it clear a couple of times already but here's once more: if you're a small business owner, you HAVE TO register your company here, you need to appoint yourself as chief representative and pay BOTH corporate and personal income tax. This is the ONLY way to get a legal Z visa as business owner in China, which would avoid you all the trouble with multiple F visas.

Concerning your question, to get a spousal 12 months L visa you first need to get a short term visa from abroad (HK is fine). You then take your passport, marriage certificate and wife's hukou to the PSB exit entry section of her hukou's place, and the PSB will usually change your short term tourist visa into a 12 months tourist visa.

I guess you don't really care but this tourist visa does NOT entitle you to work or do any business in China. It entitles you to stay at home as non working spouse. If you open a company in her name, she has to employ you and get a work visa for you to be legal.

Anonymous said...

I'm due to extend my L visa in Beijing in the next couple of days. I saw that you posted that your bank account now needs to have 25000RMB and NOT just 21000RMB. This is a real pain in the ass after arranging the 21k only to find out that they want to see another 4k in the account. Still, I appreciate you posting the information as it would be worse finding out after a rejected visa application! Where did you get the info from?

Coeurdelion said...

I have this information from somebody who was at the PSB about ten days ago and told me that a notice had just been put up informing everybody about the rise. I guess it's for exchange rate reasons!

Heather said...

Hi, I have a question about registration at the PSB. I have been told that they need to keep my passport for 5 days to complete the registration process, which I don't believe is true. In the past, I have registered with the PSB in only a few minutes. Can you guess why they would need my passport for so long?!

FYI, I have a residence permit, foreign expert certificate, etc. up to date.

Coeurdelion said...


this is odd. Are you talking about your temporary registration at the local paichusuo? I wouldn't give them my passport over night! Try finding out what they really want to do with it.

Heather said...

I thought it was odd, too, so we (the foreign workers in my company) refused to turn over our passports. Without giving any indication as to why they wanted the passports for 5 days to begin with, they agreed to do it the normal way.

Without going into a major discussion here, we have had many problems with this local police station/PSB, mainly because our company registered in us a different city (the company headquarters) and never bothered to re-register us in the new city (company base), although they told us they did... We lived for 2 years in the city without problem (never realizing we were supposed to be re-registering after we left the country & returned! oops!) until the Olympic torch showed up. Then we were "found out", kicked out and the company was fined a bunch of money. Once all bribes/fines were paid and we were out of the city for the entire Olympic period, we were able to return. Upon our return we promptly (within 24 hours) went to the police station to register. Mind you, everyone in the police station now knows us. That is when they wanted to keep our passports. Seems to be alright now, though, we are properly registered.

Now our only concern is we have been told we must report ANY travel outside the city limits (before) to this police station, not only if we leave the country. Is that normal?

Thanks so much for your reply to my question!

trif589 said...

I just got my residence permit in Beijing.

Do I need any other paperwork to allow me to leave China and return in December/January?

My company now needs me to move to Shenyang. What has to happen with my residence permit?

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