To obtain any type of visa, you will first need:
- Actual passport of more than six months validity with a blank visa page.
- One complete application form (The People's Republic of China Visa Application Form) with one recent passport size photograph (black and white or color).
Tourist Visa (L Visa)
Three month visa that can be extended. In the past the Chinese authorities required proof of departure (return airline ticket etc), but this happens rarely now - and not if your port of entry is Shanghai.
Business Visa (F Visa)
A six month visa. This is very easy to get in Hong Kong, and you don't have to provide any different information than that needed for a tourist visa, but you do need to have been issued a China visa in the past (of any flavor). Please note though, if you go to
CITS they will ask for a letter of invitation from a company, so its best to go to a private travel agent. Most can get you a visa without the hassle of getting an invitation from a company, just keep asking round. The official explanation for the use of this visa is: "Issued to an applicant who is invited to China for visit, research, lecture, business, scientific-technological and culture exchanges or short-term advanced studies or intern practice for a period of no more than six months."
Student Visas (X Visa)
Up to a year, and can be renewed. Along with the visa application, you must provide an approved JW201 or JW202 (Foreign Student Visa Application Form) issued by the State Education Ministry of China, and an enrollment letter from the receiving university.
Employment / Work Visa(Z Visa)
The "foreign experts" visa, valid for one year. In addition to the application form, you must submit the following to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau (Your employer should help you with all of this, and it depends whether you're working for a WOFE, government agency etc.You may not need all of these documents):
Copy of approval certificate; Original and one copy of business registration license; Representative permit(s); Passport(s); Visa application(s); Resident permit application(s); Health certificate(s); 2-4 passport photos.
For more information, see the China Embassy website.
Working and Living in China
To work and live in China the expatriate worker must obtain a health permit, a residence permit and work or business visa. Each family member planning to live in China must also obtain a residence permit and visa. This process usually takes from two to four weeks. By the end of all this, you should have a residency permit(a little green booklet), your work visa (an F or Z in your passport) and possibly your foreign expert's certificate (a maroon passport sized booklet).
The Public Security Bureau requires health certificates for foreign nationals seeking residency in China. To obtain one, you need to have a complete physical examination which shows you are in good health and free of any communicable diseases (including an HIV test, Hepatitis B and Syphilis test and sometimes a chest x-ray and ECG). In Shanghai, the exam can be performed at the Shanghai Health & Quarantine Verification Office. You need to take 2 passport photos, company business license, and 500RMB. For physicals performed abroad, you must go to Shanghai Health & Quarantine Verification Office with the following:
* Doctor's letter stating you are healthy.
* Original copies of all blood tests, X-rays, EKG/ECG readouts, and other required tests. Each individual test result should be clearly identified as belonging to you.
* Health Certificate application (Available at Health & Quarantine Verification Office when you get there).
* Company business license
* Passport and 2 photos
Residence Permit: After receiving your health certificate, it should be submitted along with your passport to the local health office for approval, after which the health office will enter the form for submission to the local Public Security Bureau.
The local Public Security Bureau then issues the residency permit.