Instructions on Visa Application of Foreign Nationals
2021-07-20 09:53
I. Object of Application
Foreigners who need to stay or reside in China for reasons other than diplomatic or official business after their entry into China may, in accordance with relevant regulations, apply to the exit-entry departments of public security organs for the extension, replacement or reissuance of visas, the issuance, replacement or reissuance of stay permits and the issuance, extension, replacement or reissuance of residence permits.
 
II. Authorities to Apply
Foreigners shall apply for visas to the exit-entry departments of public security organs at or above the county level entrusted by the Ministry of Public Security.
 
III. Means of Application
Foreigners who apply for the extension, replacement or reissuance of visas and residence permits or stay permits shall go through relevant procedures in person at the exit-entry departments of public security organs. Under any of the following circumstances, the inviting entity or individual, relatives of the applicant and relevant professional service agencies may file the application on behalf of the applicant:
1. The applicant is under the age of 16 or over the age of 60 or it would unduly inconvenience the applicant due to illness or other reasons;
2. The applicant's current entry is not his or her first entry into China and the applicant has good records of stay or residence in China;
3. The inviting entity or individual has guaranteed to cover the necessary expenses of the applicant incurred in China.
Foreigners who apply for residence permits shall go through relevant procedures in person at the exit-entry departments of public security organs. For high-level talents needed by the State or specialists urgently needed and in the circumstances mentioned in the first provision of the preceding clauses, the inviting entity or individual, relatives and relevant professional service agencies may make the application on behalf of the applicant.
 
IV. Entity Registration for Reference
Entities that invite and receive foreigners may apply to file records with the exit-entry departments of local public security organs.
 
V. Application Procedures
Foreigners who apply for visas shall accept relevant inquiries from the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs. The relevant entity (individual) shall cooperate where the exit-entry departments need to verify relevant information with the inviting entity (individual). The exit-entry departments may refuse to issue the visa according to law if the applicant, or the entity or individual concerned fails to take the interview at the agreed time in accordance with the notice of the exit-entry departments without justified reasons.
Foreigners who apply for a visa shall submit their valid passports or other international travel documents, fill in an application form for visas for foreigners, submit a photo conforming to relevant requirements, and submit supporting materials related to purposes of the application.
 
VI. Receipt of Acceptance
The exit-entry departments of China's public security organs shall accept and issue a receipt of acceptance of a visa application that meets the acceptance requirements after examination, and make a decision on whether to issue the visa or not within the validity period of receipt of acceptance. The valid period of acceptance receipt for visa and stay permit applications is not more than 7 working days from the date of acceptance. The receipt of acceptance of a residence permit application shall be valid within 15 working days from the date of acceptance.
If the passport or other international travel documents held by the applicant are kept by the exit-entry departments, the applicant may stay or reside in China lawfully on the strength of the receipt of acceptance. With the reasons justified, the applicant may apply to the exit-entry departments for temporary retrieval of passports or other international travel documents, but the applicant shall return the passport or other international travel documents within the validity period of receipt of acceptance, so that the exit-entry departments will not be affected in issuing corresponding visas.
 
VII. Documents Required for Visa Extension
Foreigners who apply for extension of duration of stay in their visas shall apply to the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs 7 days before the expiry of the duration of stay specified in their visas, and submit relevant application supporting materials as required:
1. C visa holders shall submit a letter of certification issued by the competent department of the people's government at or above the county level or the local civil aviation, railway, road and port transportation company. The stay can be extended for no more than 30 days.
2. F visa holders shall submit a letter of certification issued by the inviting and receiving entity. The entities that have not filed for the record shall also submit the registration certificate. The stay can be extended for no more than 180 days.
3. G visa holders shall submit a letter of certification from the reception entity and a ticket for the flight (bus or ship) to the country (region) with confirmed seat and confirmed date. The stay can be extended for no more than 30 days.
4. J2 visa holders shall submit the letter from the foreign affairs department of the people's government at the provincial level. The stay may be extended for no more than 30 days.
5. L visa holders shall submit a travel itinerary, and a letter of certification from the travel agency for a group tour. The stay may be extended for no more than 30 days.
6. M visa holders shall submit a letter of certification issued by the local inviting and receiving entity or individual, and the entity that has not filed for the record shall also submit the registration certificate. If the partner is an individual, the letter shall be signed and the certificate of permanent residence or the certificate of residence of the actual place of residence shall be submitted. The stay may be extended for no more than 180 days.
7. Q2 visa holders shall submit the letter, the identity certificate and proof of family member relationship issued by the person being visited, and the stay period may be extended for no more than 180 days.
8. R visa holders shall submit a certification letter issued by the inviting and receiving entity. Entities that have not filed records shall also submit registration certificates. The stay can be extended for no more than 180 days.
9. For S2 visa holders, foreigners' visiting family members shall submit an invitation letter issued by the person being visited, the residence permit of the inviting individual, and certification showing the relationship of family members between the applicant and the inviting individual. Foreigners visiting for other purposes shall submit documentation identifying the nature of the private affairs or humanitarian causes. The period of stay may be extended for no more than 180 days for visiting relatives, and no more than 90 days for other people.
10. X2 visa holders shall submit a letter of certification of study issued by an education and training institution within the territory of China. The stay can be extended for no more than 180 days.
The extension of duration of stay of the visa shall not exceed the duration of stay originally indicated in the visa.
 
VIII. Documents Required for Visa Change
1. Foreigners, who change the purpose of stay or are granted entry conveniences in accordance with relevant provisions of the State, or start using new passports or need to stay separately from the tour group after entering China with a group visa due to objective reasons, shall submit the following supporting materials for a change of visa:
a. For change to F visa, a letter of certification issued by the inviting entity shall be submitted, a zero-entry, single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visa with a valid period of no more than one year and a stay period of no more than 180 days may be issued. For those who meet the relevant State regulations on high-level foreign talents and investors, multiple-entry visas with a valid period of no more than 5 years and a stay period of no more than 180 days may be issued.
b. For change to J2 visa, a letter of certification issued by the foreign affairs department of the people's government at the provincial level shall be submitted. Zero-entry visas with a stay period of no more than 30 days may be issued.
c. For change to M visa, the applicant shall submit a letter of certification issued by the inviting entity, and may be issued a zero-entry, single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visa with a valid period of entry not exceeding one year and a stay period not exceeding 180 days.
d. For change to Q2 visa, the applicant shall submit letter, the identity certificate and proof of family member relationship issued by the person being visited. Zero-entry, single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visas with a valid period of no more than one year and a stay period of no more than 180 days can be issued.
e. For change to R visa, the applicant shall submit certification materials that meet the conditions and requirements for the introduction of high-level foreign talents or urgently needed specialists as determined by the competent departments of the Chinese government, as well as certification letters issued by the inviting and receiving organizations. Zero-entry, single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visas with a valid period of no more than 5 years and a stay period of no more than 180 days can be issued.
f. For change to S2 visa, the visiting person shall submit the letter issued by the person to be visited, the foreigner's residence permit, and the proof of family member relationship. Other personnel shall submit relevant certifying materials for humanitarian reasons. Zero-entry or single-entry visas with a valid period of no more than three months and a stay period of no more than 180 days can be issued.
g. For change to X2 visa, the applicant shall submit an official letter and a certificate of admission and enrollment issued by an education or training institution within the territory of China, and may be issued a zero-entry, single-entry or double-entry visa with a validity period of no more than one year and a stay period of no more than 180 days.
2. Foreigners who start using a new passport because the original one is about to expire or is running out of visa pages may apply for a change of visa by submitting the original passport with the latest entry stamp or relevant certification issued by the embassy or consulates of the applicant's country in China specifying that the original passport has been withdrawn. The foreigners may be issued a visa that is consistent with the type, validity entry period, duration of stay and the remaining valid entry times of the original one.
3. Foreigners who need to add accompanying persons on the same passport after entry shall submit the passport with the latest entry stamp and the birth certificate of the accompanying persons. The visa may be changed in accordance with the provisions in the preceding paragraph.
4. Foreigners who need to stay separately from their tour group after entering China with a group visa shall submit certification letter issued by the hosting travel agency. The visa may be changed in accordance with the provisions in the preceding paragraph.
The accumulated duration of stay of the changed visas altogether shall not exceed 1 year since the date of entry.

IX. Documents Required for Visa Reissuance
Foreigners who need to apply for the reissuance of a visa because their original visas are lost, damaged, destroyed, stolen or robbed shall submit the following documents:
1.If the visa is lost, stolen or robbed, the applicant shall submit the confirmation of reporting the loss of passport and the new valid passport or other international travel documents; or submit the official note issued by his or her country's embassy or consulates in China and the new valid passport or other international travel documents.
2.If the visa is damaged or destroyed, the applicant shall submit the damaged passport and the new valid passport or other international travel documents; or submit the official note issued by the embassy or consulates of the applicant's country in China and the new valid passport or other international travel documents.
3.If the group visa is lost, stolen, robbed or damaged, the applicant shall submit a certification letter issued by the hosting travel agency and a copy of the original group visa.
The applicant may be reissued a visa that is consistent with the type, entry validity period, duration of stay and the remaining valid entry times of the original one.
 
X. Documents Required for Stay Permit Application
1. Where a foreigner who had a visa-free entry into China needs to stay in China longer than the visa-exempt period due to reasons other than diplomatic or official matters, he or she may apply for a stay permit for the corresponding period by submitting relevant supporting documents in accordance with Article 7 of this Instruction.
2. Where foreign crew members and their accompanying family members need to leave the cities where the ports are located, they shall submit the seaman certificate or other international travel documents, a letter of guarantee issued by the shipping agency, and an air (train or ship) ticket with confirmed date and seat or other supporting documents relevant to the purpose of stay, and a stay permit valid for no more than 30 days may be issued.
3. Where a person who has been approved to renounce his or her Chinese nationality needs to stay in China, the applicant shall submit the certificate for renunciation of the Chinese nationality, a foreign passport or other international travel documents and supporting materials related to the purpose of stay, and a stay permit with a stay period of no more than 180 days may be issued.
4. Where a foreigner's reason of residence is no longer valid but the stay needs to continue due to humanitarian reasons, the applicant should submit a residence certificate and relevant supporting materials, and a stay permit with a period of no more than 30 days may be issued.
5. In the case that a foreign infant born in China needs to stay in China, the applicant is required to submit the infant's birth certificate, passport and the passports of both parents. A stay permit for the same period of stay as that of the parents may be issued.
6. Foreigners holding stay permits who, due to objective reasons, are unable to leave China within the period of validity of their stay permits may apply for renewal of their stay permits. The application materials and replacement requirements shall be in accordance with the aforesaid provisions.
7. A foreigner whose stay permit is lost, damaged, destroyed, stolen or robbed shall apply for a reissuance of stay permit by submitting the confirmation of reporting loss of the passport or the official note issued by the embassy or consulates of the applicant's country in China, and the new valid passport or other international travel documents.
 
XI. Documents Required for Residence Permit Application
Foreigners whose visas indicate that they need to apply for a residence permit upon entry shall, within 30 days from the date of entry, apply to the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs in the place of residence where they intend to reside for handling the residence permit.
When applying for a residence permit valid for more than 1 year, a foreigner shall, in accordance with relevant provisions, submit his or her health certificate, which shall be issued by a local health quarantine agency or a health care department at or above the county level proving that the applicant is not suffering from serious mental disorders, infectious tuberculosis or other infectious diseases that may severely jeopardize the public health. The applicant shall also submit the following supporting documents:
1.Residence permit for work: Foreigners who enter China with a Z visa shall submit the work permit issued by the competent departments such as the local human resource and social security department or the local foreign expert administration, and a certification letter issued by the entity which hires them. Foreigners who enter China with other types of visa shall also meet the qualifications and requirements set by the competent departments of the Chinese government for inviting high-level foreign talents, urgently needed specialists or investors, and submit the relevant certification documents in accordance with relevant provisions. For high-level foreign talents, urgently needed specialists and investors, residence certificates with a period of residence of no more than 5 years may be issued. Residence certificates with a period of residence not exceeding 2 years may be issued to persons working in reputable registered entities; for other persons, a residence permit with a period of residence not exceeding one year may be issued.
2. Residence permit for study: Foreigners who enter China with an X1 visa shall submit a letter issued by their school specifying the period of their study, and an admission or enrollment certificate. Foreigners who enter China with other types of visa shall also submit certifications issued by the competent departments. A residence permit with the duration of study specified by the school may be issued.
Where foreigners who hold the residence permit for study need to engage in the work-study program or off-campus internship, they shall, upon the approval of the school, apply to the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs to have relevant information specified in their residence permit. They shall submit the letter of approval issued by the school and the entity where they engage in internship.
3. Residence permit for journalists: Those who enter China with a J1 visa shall submit the letter and the press card issued by the foreign affairs department of the people's government at the provincial level. A residence permit with a validity period of no more than 1 year may be issued.
4. Residence permit for reunion: A foreigner entering China with a Q1 visa shall submit the identity certificate of the person being visited and a letter explaining the relationship between family members. A foreigner entering China with other categories of visa shall also submit proof of family member relationship. For a person under the age of 18 or above the age of 60, a residence permit with a validity period of no more than 3 years may be issued. The date of expiry of the residence permit for a person under the age of 18 shall not be later than the date on which he or she turns 18; for other persons, a residence permit with a validity period of no more than 2 years may be issued.
For a foreign child of Chinese with foreign nationalities or overseas Chinese who is under the age of 18 and in custodial care in China, persons who foster the child may apply to the exit-entry departments in the places of their household registry or where they actually reside for a residence permit on behalf of the child. The applicant's birth certificate and a copy of the passports of the foreign parents shall be submitted. Where both or one of the parents are/is Chinese, a copy of the residence certification in the relevant foreign country shall also be submitted; the applicant shall also submit a letter of child custody from the parents of the applicant and a letter of acceptance of child custody from the custodian. The letter of custody shall clearly indicate the custodian or guardian and the term of the custody, etc. The custodian's local permanent residence certification or proof of residence in the his or her actual place of residence for more than 6 months and the resident ID card shall also be submitted. A residence permit valid for no more than 3 years can be issued, and the expiration date of the residence permit shall not exceed the date of the person's 18th birthday.
5. Residence permit for personal matters: For a person entering China with a S1 visa for the purpose of visiting family, he or she shall submit a letter explaining the kinship (spouse, parents, spouse's parents, minor children below 18) issued by the person being visited and the residence permit of the person being visited. A residence permit with a validity period consistent with that of the residence permit of the person being visited in China may be issued. Other persons shall submit supporting materials related to the handling of private affairs. A residence permit with a validity period of no more than 1 year may be issued.
For entry into China with other types of visas, the visiting personnel shall submit a letter and residence certificate issued by the person to be visited, and proof of kinship (spouse, parents, parents of the spouse, and children under the age of 18). A residence permit with a validity period consistent with that of the residence permit of the person being visited in China may be issued. Foreigners who apply for a residence permit for humanitarian causes shall submit relevant supporting documents, and a residence permit with a period of residence not exceeding 1 year may be issued, which include the following situations: Chinese with foreign nationalities at or above the age of 60 who have purchased house property in China shall submit the certificate of house property or notarized sales contract of house property and proof of financial resources; foreigners who reside in China for medical assistance or services shall submit the hospitalization certificate or certification for acceptance of medical services issued by the hospital above the county level or the Grade 2A level (the period of hospitalization or treatment shall be above 6 months.).
 
XII. Application for Residence Permit Extension
Where a foreigner residing in China applies for the extension of residence period, he or she shall submit an application to the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs 30 days before the expiration of the validity period of the residence permit, and submit relevant materials for the application as required. Upon examination, if the reasons for extension are appropriate and sufficient, an extension shall be granted; if an extension application is denied, the foreigner shall leave China on the expiry of the validity period specified in their residence permits.
 
XIII. Application for Residence Permit Replacement
Where the registered item (name, purpose of residence, number of passport or number of other international travel documents, etc.) of a foreigner's residence permit has changed, the holder shall, within 10 days from the date of change, apply to the exit-entry departments of China's public security organs for going through the formalities for alteration, and submit supporting documents about the change of basic individual information and the purpose of residence in accordance with previous provisions. A new residence permit may be issued.
 
XIV. Application for Residence Permit Reissuance
If residence permit of a foreigner in China is lost, damaged, destroyed, stolen or robbed, the applicant shall submit a certificate of reporting the passport loss or a note from the embassy or consulate of the applicant's country or present the damaged certificate, as well as a new valid passport or other international travel documents, and may be reissued a residence permit.
 
XV. Application for Exit-entry Permits
Where a foreigner does not hold a valid passport or other international travel documents as the certificates are lost, damaged, destroyed, stolen, robbed, or are not valid anymore, while unable to apply for reissuance from the embassy or consulates of the country in China, the applicant may apply for an exit-entry permit valid for a period not exceeding 30 days by submitting the confirmation of reporting the loss of the passport, or the official note issued by the embassy or consulates of the applicant's country in China, or the damaged or expired international travel document, and temporary identification paper in lieu of the passport.
 
XVI. Definition of Terms
1. Definition of family members: spouse, parents, spouse's parents, children, siblings, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, paternal grandchildren, maternal grandchildren, and children's spouses.
2. Certification of family member relationship and kinship shall include marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption certificate, other kinship certificate and related notarization materials issued by competent departments, as well as marriage certificate, birth certificate, kinship certificate and certification on the change of name or other personal information issued by the embassy or consulates of the applicant's country in China.
3. Marriage certificate, birth certificate, kinship certificate, documents of information change such as name change, and other supporting documents issued by the competent departments or notary offices of a foreign country shall be authenticated by the Chinese embassy or consulates in that country.
4. Identity certificate: The identity certificates of Chinese mainland residents refer to permanent residence certificates or proofs of residence issued by the actual places of residence for over 6 months and resident ID cards. Overseas Chinese identity certificates refer to the Chinese passports and the certificates of overseas residence. Identity certificates of Hong Kong and Macao residents refer to the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents. Taiwan resident identity certificates refer to the Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents. Foreigner identity certificates refer to the People's Republic of China Foreigners' Permanent Residence Identity Card. Overseas Chinese and residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan should also submit proofs of residence issued by the actual places of residence for over 6 months.
The above supporting documents in foreign languages shall be translated into Chinese.
 
XVII. Time Limit for Approval
The exit-entry departments of public security organs shall make a decision on whether or not to issue the visa or stay permit within 7 working days since the date of application, and shall make a decision on whether or not to issue a residence permit within 15 working days since the date of application when accepting such application.
Applicants may apply for shortening the examination and approval period if they have justifiable reasons. The exit-entry departments of China's public security organs may provide convenience according to specific cases.
 
XVIII. Validity of Examination and Approval
The exit and entry departments of public security organs shall not issue visa to foreigners under any of the circumstances listed in the article 21 or article 31 in the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China.  The decisions made by the exit and entry departments of public security organs on rejecting applications for visa extension, change and reissuance, on not issuing foreigners' stay or residence permits, and on not extending the duration of residence shall be final.
 
XIX. Registration of Accommodation
Foreigners shall go through accommodation registration formalities in accordance with relevant articles in the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China. The exit and entry departments of public security organs may require proof of accommodation registration within China when accepting the application for visa of foreigners.
 
XX. Fee Payment
A foreigner shall pay fees when applying for a visa, stay permit and residence permit in accordance with relevant regulations.
 
Notice: The English version is only for reference. To learn more, please refer to the authoritative Chinese version.