China’s New Visa Law and Permits regulations

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China’s New Visa Law and Permits regulations

Residence Permits: The residence  permits (居留证件) to foreign nationals seeking to reside in China is issued by the PSB exit-entry office. For the purpose of taking up residence  applicants abroad for J1, Q1, R, S1, X1, and Z visas intend to enter China by applying to PSB within 30 days of entry. Instead of visa, a residence permit can be used to enter China. (EEAL, art. 22).

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Stay Certificates: Instead  of visas or residence permits, some  categories of foreign nationals entering China may be granted stay certificates (停留证件) .For example:

  • Foreign nationals whose governments have reciprocal visa waiver agreements with China (e.g., tourists from Singapore, Brunei, and Japan)

  • Persons transiting through Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing or Chengdu within 72 hours.

  • Persons required by to depart or ordered deported will be issued stay certificates authorizing their exit.

  • Persons who renounce PRC nationality.

  • Persons whose residence permits have been cancelled who wish to remain in China for up to 30 additional days as a “grace period” to travel wrap up their affairs in China.

The new visa classifications

On Handling PRC Visa Applications (申请办理中华人民共和国签证须知) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a bilingual Notice spelling out China’s new visa classifications. Details are listed below.

Visa Classification

Description of Visa

C

Issued to foreign crew members of aircraft, trains, and ships, or motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities, or to the accompanying family members of the crew members of the above-mentioned ships.

D

Issued to those who intend to reside in China permanently.

F

Issued to those who intend to go to China for exchanges, visits, study tours, and other activities.

G

Issued to those who intend to transit through China.

J1

Issued to resident foreign journalists of foreign news organizations stationed in China.  The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.

J2 (short-term)

Issued to foreign journalists who intend to go to China for short-term news coverage.  The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days.

L

Issued to those who intend to go to China as a tourist.

M

Issued to those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities.

Q1

Issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.”Family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law.

Q2 (short-term)

Issued to those who intend to visit their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent residence in China. The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days.

R

Issued to those who are high-level talents or whose skills are urgently needed in China.

S1 (long-term)

Issued to those who intend to go to China to visit the foreigners working or studying in China to whom they are spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 or parents-in-law, or to those who intend to go to China for other private affairs. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.

S2 (short-term)

Issued to those who intend to visit their family members who are foreigners working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private matters.  The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days. “Family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law.

X1 (long-term)

Issued to those who intend to study in China for a period of more than 180 days.

X2 (short-term)

Issued to those who intend to study in China for a period of no more than 180 days.

Z

Issued to those who intend to work in China.


The new types of residence permits

Residence permits are divided into the following types, under the regulations

1. Residence permits for employment,  A person entering on a Z (work) or R (talent) visa would apply for this type. This is issued to foreigners who will work in China.

2. Residence permits for study, A person entering on an X1 (student) visa would apply for this type.This is issued to foreigners who will study in China.

3. Residence permits for journalists,. A person entering on a J1 (journalist) visa would apply for this type.This is  issued to foreign journalists who reside in China on behalf of permanent offices of foreign news agencies.

4. Residence permits for family reunion, A person entering on a Q1 visa would apply for this type.This is  issued to persons seeking to reside in China with Chinese citizen or  permanent resident relatives, or who need to live in China for foster care.

5. Residence permits for private affairs,. A person entering on an S1 visa would apply for this type.This is  issued to certain relatives of foreign nationals holding residence certificates for purposes of employment, study, etc. These permits are also issued to foreigners who need to reside in China to deal with other private affairs

The duration of stay for the new visa classifications and residence permits

For the duration of 180 days stay certificates and “short-term” visas will be issued. (EEAL, art. 34; State Council regs, art. 36(4)).The cumulative time allotted in visas extending one’s stay should not exceed the originally allotted period of stay as shown on the visa. (EEAL, art. 30).Residence permit for employment  may be issued valid for 90 days to 5 years.(EEAL, art. 30). On the other hand,a non-employment-type residence permit may be issued for the period of 180 days to five years. (EEAL, art. 30). To decide  the stay for a particular individual on a stay certificate, visa, or residence certificate,The law and State Council regulations don’t specify the exact term. The  interim local governments are free to set their own rules but the Ministry of Public Security rules are expected to be published to provide some clarification. For example:

Residence Permit Type

Period of Validity

Residence permit for employment

Same period as the work permit or foreign expert certificate

Residence permit for study

Same period as shown on the certification documents of enrollment (but not shorter than 180 days).

Residence permit for family reunion

For an applicant under age 18 or over age 60, not longer than 3 years. (But for a person under age 18, the expiration date can’t exceed their 18th birthday). For others, from 180 days to 1 year.

Residence permit for private affairs

Same period as the host’s residence permit (but not shorter than 180 days)


Visa Classification

Entries if Granted New Visa Classification

Enter Before Date if Granted New Visa Classification

Duration of Extension or Each Stay Under New Visa Classification*

F

0, 1, 2, or multiple

Maximum 1 year

Maximum 180 days

L

Not available

Not available

Maximum 30 days extension

M

0, 1, 2, or multiple

Maximum 1year

Maximum 180 days

Q2

0, 1, 2, or multiple

Maximum 1 year

Maximum 180 days

R

0, 1, 2, or multiple

Meximum 5 years

Maximum 180 days

S2

0 or 1

Maximum 3 months

Maximum 180 days

X2

0, 1, 2, or multiple

Maximum 1 year

Maximum 180 days

*The cumulative time of all extensions should not exceed the originally allotted period of stay as shown on the visa for a person granted an extension of stay. (EEAL, art. 29). The  cumulative period of stay since the date of the current entry should not exceed one year for a person granted a new visa classification. (Beijing provisional rules).

Who needs a medical exam?

Visa applicants:

Foreigners coming to China for residence one year or longer should get a medical exam, when applying for visas at the Chinese embassy or other visa issuing agency abroad, under  prior rules.(2010 Implementing Rules, art. 6). While this is no longer a requirement under the new regulations.

Employment license applicants: Employment license  require a health certificate as per the rules. (1996 regs on the Employment of Foreigners, art. 11)

Residence permit applicants:

  • A health certificate is required for anybody applying for a residence permit valid for one year or more as per the new State Council regulations

  • A provision in the draft regulations (art. 22) that would have exempted minors under age 16 from the medical exam is not adopted in the new regulations. While, local rules may have the same result. For example, Beijing doesn’t require a medical exam from applicants under age 18.

  • The exam is valid for 6 months (State Council regs, art. 16) as in the past, so it may be possible to use the same certificate as used for the employment license. The regulations don’t require a medical from applicants extending a residence permit, changing from one type of residence permit to another, or replacing a residence permit. (State Council regs, art. 17).

WORKING IN CHINA

Qualifications are required for a Z work visa

Z visas be reserved for positions for which the employer has a “special need” and that is currently a “shortage” occupation in China , according to the existing rules. . (1996 regs on the Employment of Foreigners, art. 6).These rules are vague and uneven. As per the new law, various departments should cooperatively formulate and periodically adjust a guidance list regarding special need / shortage occupations. A list should be prepared based on the supply of and demand for human resources, as well as economic and social development needs. (Art. 42). Yet no such list has been published. It is unaware of how the new law will be interpreted and enforced.

 

Update on R visas for foreign talent

It is well known fact that , R visas will be issued to foreign high-level talents that China needs and to specialized talents that are urgently needed due to short supply. . (State Council regulations, arts. 6(9), 7(9)). A provincial level department or higher make the determination that a foreigner qualifies (art. 9(9)), but that requirement was deleted from the final regulations required by the draft State Council regulations. The State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs need to issue more rules to define their requirements and procedures, before R visas can be issued. Meanwhile, foreign experts will continue to apply for Z work visas under current rules.

Who needs a criminal background check?

The new law and State Council regulations don’t specifically require a criminal background check. In fact, while the draft State Council regulations required submission of a “certificate of no criminal conviction” at the visa application stage (art. 8), that was dropped in the final regulations (art. 7). Still, agencies have the power to create rules requiring a criminal background check. For example, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security has announced that employment license applicants will need to submit a “certificate of no criminal conviction” (also known as a police clearance letter) from their country of residence, effective July 1. Beijing joins other cities, such as Suzhou and Nanjing, which already have similar requirements in place.

A criminal background check is not required as per the new law and State Council regulations. At the visa application stage, the draft State Council regulations required submission of a “certificate of no criminal conviction” (art.8),which was dropped in the final regulations (art.7). Yet, have the power to create rules requiring a criminal background check lies in the hands of agencies. For example, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security has announced that employment license applicants will need to submit a “certificate of no criminal conviction” (also known as a police clearance letter) from their country of residence, effective July 1.Cities with similar requirements such as Suzhou and Nanjing joins Beijing.

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