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  • Q:

    What are all the different kinds of visas in China?

  • What are all the different kinds of visas in China?
  • A:

    "Z" Working Visa allows a person to reside and work in China with an invitation letter from a school for duration of the contract followed by additional 30 days of travel. Z Visa is the standard visa for foreign teachers and experts. The date on Z visa is only good for entry into China within 90 days post issuance. The document that qualifies your living and working in China is the Residence Permit issued to you by Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Public Security governing your school’s location . By government regulation, you must be registered with Shanghai Municipal Bureau of the Public Security within 30 days upon your arrival or you will be illegal. If it fails to register you, the school is normally charged with a heavy fine.

    Your Residence Permit identifies you by photo, name, and personal details. When you are registered, the date of your registration and the date that you will be expected to leave China are written into this card. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE! The expiration date should take into account the additional 30 days for personal travel following the expiration date of your contract. If it does not, you must ask your foreign affairs officer to have the date corrected. If you travel during the extra 30 days without a proper Residence Permit, you will be stopped at any hotel for illegal residence and have to leave China in about 24 hours. If you are caught during your illegal stay in the country, you will be subject to deportation and/or heavily fined as an "overstay". The fine is normally 500 Yuan RMB per day of overstay.

    "Z" visa is normally single entry visa. If you wish to travel outside of China during your contracted period, you MUST obtain a re-entry stamp from Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Public Security, which is applied for by your school. There may be a cost .

    When leaving China, you must give over your Residence Permit at Immigration and your original visa becomes invalid. If it is discovered that you are an "overstay", you will have to pay required fines at Immigration. It happened to past teachers. When leaving, you must present your passport and your valid Residence Permit. If your Residence Permit is lost or you do not have it, you will most probably be charged 500 Yuan RMB for each day of overstay commencing with when your entry visa expired.

    *Be reminded that "Z" visa cannot be transferred to tourist/visitor visa while you are in China. To transfer your visa, or obtain a visitor visa, you must leave China to get it and then re-enter. Hong Kong is the nearest location for that service. Any hotel travel agent in Hong Kong can help you. You cannot work in China on an "L" visa.

    "F" Visa: Certain municipalities (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, certain east coastal areas) are able to hire teachers on a 6-month "F" visa and still take care of the residency side of the regulations by issuing a Temporary Residency Permit and Temporary Foreign Expert Card. "F" visa can be multiple entries visa, governed by the Letter of Invitation issued by Provincial Foreign Affairs Office on behalf of your school. If you remain in China teaching at the same institution beyond 6 months, your visa can be transferred to a "Z" visa by your school. At that time, you will be given a permanent Residence Permit to validate the newly obtained "Z" visa. You will also need a full medical examination.

    *Be reminded: An "F" visa can only be transferred into a "Z" visa throught proper application by your school and further documentation at Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Public Security is required. Note what is described above.