When your company decides to expand to China, you’ll need to look at all the different visa types and determine which work best for your employees. For example, do they need a permanent residence visa, work permit, or both? What details and documents do they require to apply for a residence permit? All of these questions, along with several others, are important to ensure that you’re staying compliant and can work quickly.
Types of Work Visas in China
China uses abbreviations with letters and numbers to designate certain visa types. For example:
- Z visa: A visa for workers staying in China for longer than six months.
- X1/2: The X stands for xuéshēng, which means student, and the numbers indicate how long someone will stay. This visa is for students, and the X1 is for those staying longer than 180 days, while X2 is for a period shorter than that.
- J1/2: The J is from jìzhě, or journalist. This visa is meant for foreign journalists staying for a specific period.
- M: A business visa meant for stays of 30 to 60 days.
- F: A visa for exchange students, visitors, and study tours lasting 30 to 90 days.
- S1/2: This visa is meant for people visiting family members who are non-residents.
- Q1/2: China gives this visa to individuals visiting family members who are from or living in the country.
Other letters to watch for include “C” for chuányuán, or crew, “L” for lǎowài, or foreigner/tourist, and “G” for guòjìng, or transit.
What Are the Requirements to Obtain a Work Visa in China?
The requirements to get a work visa can vary based on the type of visa. However, most Chinese visa applications need a passport, photograph, official letter of invitation, health certificate, and official employment license from the Chinese authorities. All foreigners with a visa must comply with the Chinese Exit-Entry Administration Law and register with the Public Security Bureau (PSB). They must do so within 24 hours of arriving in the country. Here’s how each of your employees can comply:
- Go to the nearest police station
- Show a passport
- Show a deed or lease to a home or host’s household registration
- Complete a temporary residence registration form
After registering, your employee will get an approved Registration Form of Temporary Residence. This form can help when they’re trying to obtain a permanent Chinese residence permit.
Application Process for a Working Visa in China
Applying for a work visa in China requires going to the closest Chinese Visa Application Service Center or Chinese embassy. Your employee will need to provide basic documents. China also scores work permit applications based on the value the applicant brings to the country with factors such as salary, qualifications, work experience, age, Mandarin proficiency, and more. Depending on how high an applicant scores, they may get additional benefits. We recommend applying for a visa about one month before planning to enter China.
Many of your employees will apply for Z visas and need to obtain a Chinese Residence Permit within 30 days of arriving in China. They must apply for this permit by:
- Going to the nearest Exit-Entry Administration Service Center
- Providing a passport
- Filling out a registration form
- Filling out a Foreigner’s Visa and Resident Permit Application form
- Providing a passport photo
- Showing an official health certificate
- Providing supporting documents as necessary
Unique Considerations for Visas and Work Permits in China
When your employees submit their working visa application form, they can state how many entries they want — single, double, or multiple. This number will show how often and in which time period they can enter China. For example, returning from a visit to Macao or Hong Kong is counted as a new entry, requiring a double-entry or multiple-entry visa. If your employees don’t plan to go abroad while in China, a single-entry visa will work for them and cost less.