When your company decides to grow in 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 another type of visa that will allow them to reside and work in China? 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 a smooth expansion into China.
Types of work visas in China
China uses abbreviations with letters and numbers to designate certain visa types. For example:
- Z: This visa is for workers staying in China for longer than 6 months.
- X1/X2: The X stands for xuéshēng, which means “student,” and the numbers indicate how long someone will stay. The X1 is for those staying longer than 180 days, while X2 is for a shorter period.
- J1/J2: The J stands for jìzhě or “journalist.” This visa is meant for international journalists staying for a specific period.
- M: This business visa is meant for 30- to 60-day visits.
- F: This visa is for exchange students, visitors, and study tours lasting 30 to 90 days.
- S1/S2: This visa is meant for people visiting family members who are non-residents.
- Q1/Q2: China gives this visa to individuals visiting family members who are from or living in the country.
Other letters used may include “C” for chuányuán or crew, “L” for lǎowài or tourist, and “G” for guòjìng or transit.
Requirements to obtain China work visas
The requirements to get a work visa can vary based on the type of visa. However, most applicants for a visa in China need a passport, photograph, health certificate, and official employment license from the local authorities. As of June 6, 2022, China has waived the special invitation letter requirement for work visas.
All visa holders 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:
- Visit 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 trying to obtain a Permanent Residence Visa in China.
Applying for a work visa in China requires going to the closest Chinese Visa Application Service Center or Chinese embassy to obtain an Entry visa. Your employee will need to provide basic documents. China also scores work permit applications based on the value the applicant brings to the country, considering 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 1 month before entering China.
Many of your employees will apply for Z visas and need to obtain a Chinese Residence Permit within 30 days of arriving to 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
Other important considerations
When your employees submit their Working Visa Application Form, they must state how many entries they want — single, double, or multiple. This number will show how often and when 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 travel internationally while in China, a single-entry visa is enough and will cost less.
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