Post-Olympics China visa update from ChinaTravel
Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
55Trip End Nov 31, 2009
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To keep abreast of developments, including the long-awaited relaxation of rule (expected around 17 October, long after the Paralympics have finished) be sure to visit http://www.chinatravel.net/forum/A-Post-Olympic-China-Visa-Update-10-China-Visa-Tips-After-the-Games/924.html or the main site http://www.chinatravel.net/Forum/ForumTopicInfo.asp?Topic=314
Post-Olympic China Visa Update: 10 China Visa Tips After the Games
Passport & Visa
Alright: ladies, gentlemens, laowais, tai tais, interns, freelancers, bizness peoples, students, English teachers--it's time for another ChinaTravel.net visa update. The Olympics are done and people are asking, so we've been scampering around herding goats looking for answers. We made some calls. Our people talked to their people and we got as close to the top as we're allowed access (it's China, so not far).
As usual, we are only as good as our sources. So if we are wrong, we'll cower under our desks and refuse to accept beatings or nasty 3:00 am text messages for foul or faulty information. Read more visa rules in our last wildly popular pre-Olympic visa update, New China Visa Rules Update: 24 Changes You Need to Know About. So here goes.
We interviewed Magic from Meshing Consultancy Services who is perhaps the only man in China who we trust with China visa questions. He just knows. He doesn't say "don't know", "mei you", or "go back to your home country and try again." We are also big fans of Ruth from the LP Thorntree forum. She's mean, but at least she's answered over 113 pages of stupid visa questions.
Note: L= Tourist Visa; F= Business Visa; Z=Working Visa; X= Student Visa.
1. L is best
If you want to save yourself hassle, get an L (not an F). You'll get 30 days minimum and you can extend your L twice from within China (for a total of up to 90 days). For an L, you don't need an invitation letter from the Chinese government as you do for Z and F. To get an L you need an inbound and outbound flight tickets, a printout of your hotel booking, completed application form along with a passport sized photo (you might be asked for additional paper work, but these are the standard requirements). For more details on how to extend your L visa from Shanghai, go here.
2. Where to get an L visa in South East Asia?
From within South East Asia, travelers are saying that Vietnam and Bangkok are the best places to get Ls. From within China, applying for L from Hong Kong is the easiest option (takes 2-3 days).
3. Where and how many times can I extend my L from within China?
If you get an L, you will be issued a minimum of 30 days and you can renew your visa twice for 30 days each time from within China at an Entry & Exit Bureau or PSB.
4. Can I work or intern on an L?
No, you can't legally work or intern on an L and you're not supposed to do business on an L either. Interns are struggling at the moment because they can't get Z visas, Fs are very difficult to get these days and L visas are not legal for interns.
5. What's the problem with the F?
The F used to be the gold card visa: easy to get, good for up to a year and easy to extend. As Magic says, "The F was too easy to get." On July 21st 2008, the Shanghai Foreign Economic Relation & Trade Commission stopped issuing the F visa invitation letter application, but on September 20th, says Magic, they will again issue invitation letters, so it should be easier to get F visas again and multi-entry 3/6/12 month F visas should be back.
6. When will the visa situation return to normal?
Ruth from LP Thorntree forum writes, "rumors are that the current level of visa enforcement will return to normal around October 17 after the end of the Paralympics. Normal being simple non-enforcement of regulations that have been on the books for years." As previously mentioned, Magic says that as of September 20th, F visa invitation letters will be available again.
7. If you are being paid in China you need a Z not an F
As Chinese laws, if you hold an F visa, you are not allow to get incoming payment here. If you are receiving payment in China, you need a Z otherwise, the government may fine you and your company because of the illegal employment. If a company in China wants to hire you, you need to return to your home country to apply for a Z.
8. If my visa expires and what can I do and how much fine should I pay?
According to Chinese immigrations laws, says Meshing Consultancy Services, if your visa is expired for less than 10 days, it's not necessary to pay any fine, but you have to go to the immigration office nearest you, the officer will ask some questions and put down your words in writing and make a record. If your visa expired more than 10 days, they will charge you 500RMB per day except the first 10 days, and the maximum is 5000 RMB. For example, if you overstay 12 days, they will charge (12-10) 1000 RMB.
9. What if I'm applying for an L, but I'm not planning on staying in a hotel?
You need to provide a letter of invitation from someone in China with their address, phone number and a copy of their ID card. If you do this you don't have to have any accommodation booked. You do not even need to have met the person and no check is done on whether you stay with them or not.
10. Useful Visa contacts
a) To apply for a visa in Hong Kong
To get an L visa in Hong Kong use the China Travel Service (CTS) rather than the Commissioner's Office. There are forty CTS branches in Hong Kong (only one in Macau). The visa hotline number for the CTS is 852 2315 7188. You can only get a China visa on the same day in Hong Kong if you go to the CTS branch in Tsim Sha Tsui (1/F Alpha House, 27-33 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsu, Kowloon, open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday).
Or a good Hong Kong travel agency to try is:
Sunrise International Travel Co. Ltd
Room 4008,40/F., China Resources Building, 26 Harbour Road, Wanchai, H.K.
Tel: (852) 2890 9698
Fax: (852) 2895 3892
Business Hours : 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
b) For a good visa agency in Shanghai:
Meshing Consultancy Services Ltd. Co.
Room 3B, 4th floor, Yinli Building, 485 Henan Bei Road, Shanghai 200071
Tel: + 86 21 3301 1478
Emergency : Magic: 135 0182 8752
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m. (12 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch Time), Mon-Fri
c) A good visa agency in Beijing:
Beijing LEEO Consulting Service Co., Ltd.
Address: Room 1503, Aviation Mansion, No. 2 Jia, Xidawang Road, Chaoyang District, 100026 Beijing, P.R.China (500 meters north of Dawanglu Subway Station)
Tel: +86 10 6592 4495/ 96
Fax: +86 10 6592 4495