In the past (at least prior to the 2008 Olympics), it was still possible to apply for a Chinese visa in a third country or region, which is not your home jurisdiction, however, these days this opportunity is closing.
Most consulates and embassies around the world require the applicant to meet one of the following criteria to prove a legal long term stay if they are not that country’s national: a residence permit for that place, permanent resident status for that place, or being that country’s dual national. Tourist or business visas, visas on arrival, and visa wavier entries are not considered long term visas.
We have heard from some people that they were successfully able to apply and receive a Chinese visa from Hong Kong. Some of them used an agent, while others submitted a direct application to the China visa office; however, we would consider this highly risky because the chances of your application passing are much lower when you apply from a third country if you do not meet one of the mentioned criteria.
Whether it is Hong Kong or any other place that you do not meet one of the above criteria for that is not your home country, we would first suggest you check that place’s consulate or embassy’s website for details. If, as in the case of Hong Kong, the above information is mentioned, then you would need to decide if it is worth the risk or not.
If you are declined a Chinese visa, it will be much more difficult when you try to re-apply and if you are applying for a work visa, then all of the invitation documents need to be redone and reobtained from the government for a different location. You also risk the fact that your potential employer may not want to get these documents redone and/or they may as a result cancel your job offer. In addition, it is not just the visa fees you need to think about, but also the fees relating to the travel and stay in Hong Kong.
We have spoken to at least three Hong Kong based visa agents who are very quick to say that they can process the visa, but they offer no guarantees and while some of the fees are refunded if your visa does not pass the application, there still is a fee and this does not get around the issues with not having the visa and difficulty with regards to another application.
About the Authors:
Ikbal (known by the nickname “Ikky”) is an R&D Manager working in Shanghai. He has been living in China for over 11 years.
Julian runs a company that works with individuals and organizations doing business between the US, China, and Africa. He has been based in China for a number of years.