A Chinese visa is a license issued by a Chinese visa authority to a foreigner for entry, exit or transit to China. China's visa authorities include Chinese embassies and consulates abroad, the Chinese Visa Section of the Special Commissioner's Office of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the domestic public security department.
Foreigners who have come to China who want to stay in China after the expiration of their visa’s expiration date may apply to the local Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Division for visa extension before the visa expires. The so-called visa extension is actually to apply for a new, same type of visa. The types of visas required and the required documents and requirements are slightly different. In addition, the requirements of public security in different provinces and cities are not the same.
Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China
When visa-exempt foreigners need to stay in China longer than the visa-free period, or foreign ship crew workers and their accompanying family members need to leave the cities where the ports are located, or under other circumstances in which foreigners need to apply for a stay permit, they shall apply for such permits in accordance with the relevant regulations.
1 Applying for a stay permit
Not all foreigners need to apply for a stay permit, also called a humanitarian visa. If you meet one of the criteria below, you need to go to the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Division in your city to apply for a stay permit.
• Foreigners who need to stay in China for non-diplomatic or non-official business beyond the visa exemption period
• Foreign ship crew members and their accompanying family who need to travel beyond the city where their ship’s port is located
• Those who have renounced Chinese nationality with the approval of the authorities and who need to stay in China
• Foreigners who need to stay in China for humanitarian reasons after finishing their business/work/study in China
• Foreign infants born in China who need to stay in China
• Those who need to stay in China under other circumstances
In some cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, while transferring a foreigner’s work permit from one company to another company, if you are in the middle of the application procedures for your new work permit, but need some extra time, the authorities will allow you to use this type of visa for this purpose.
To apply for a stay permit, you should submit following documents:
1. Applicant's valid passport including current visa/residence permit
(originals and photocopies)
2. A completed Foreigner’s Visa Application Form
3. A photo that meets the Chinese visa photo requirements
4. A valid Foreigner Accommodation Registration Form from the local police station
5. A professionally written letter that is bilingual that explains the reason you are applying for the stay permit. The letter does not have to be long, but must include your name as identified on your passport, passport number, and other personal details. It shall be addressed to the officer at the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Division and contain an original signature. This letter shall be accompanied by related proofs which may or may not be requested.
6.Other supporting documents for the application:
• For work visa related you would be asked to provide one or more of the following:
• Work permit cancellation receipt – this can only be arranged by your current employer from the local government
• Release letter issued by your current employer
• Residence permit cancellation request
• For student visa related, would be asked a letter from university requesting issuing of stay permit on university’s letterhead
• For those who are applying from other types of visas then the related appropriate documentation would be required
2 Restrictions and related instructions
• This type of visa usually does not allow any exits from Mainland China. A special request at the time of application would have to be made if an international travel is necessary; however, this is not guaranteed, and only reasonable requests will be granted
• The extension of the work (Z) visa is actually an extension of the Alien Residence Permit. The Z visa is for the applicant's status as a Chinese employee to enter China. After the "Foreigner Residence Permit", the original Z visa is cancelled and no longer plays any role.
• The extension of the application for a Z visa (or residence permit) must provide documents of the employer, such as a business license. And should first complete the extension of the "Foreigner Employment Permit".
3 Visa Change
The visa change refers to the applicant applying for a change of the visa type in the country, such as changing from a tourist visa to a visiting visa (L to F), changing the tourist visa to a work visa (L to Z), or changing from a visiting visa to a work visa (F to Z) and so on.
In principle, the types of visas held by foreigners coming to China should be consistent with the purpose or identity of their visit to China. That is to say, if you are visiting China, you must apply for a tourist visa. If you are working in China, you must apply for a work visa. If the status of a foreigner changes after he comes to China, such as from tourism to work, in general, the foreigner should leave the country and apply for a work visa to the Chinese foreign visa agency, and then enter the country as a working person.
In some special cases, applicants can apply for a change of visa type in China without an exit change visa. For the approval of this aspect, the public security department has always been strictly controlled. The specific policy provisions are also subject to change.
About the Authors:
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.
Ikbal (known by the nickname “Ikky”) is an R&D Manager working in Shanghai. He has been living in China for over 11 years.
Jatin (known by the nickname "Prince Jatin") is a multicloud DevOps Engineer working in Shanghai. He has been living in China for over seven years and owns three Indian community WeChat groups known for "Helping Indians" with their specific inquiries.