The required documentation to support your application differs according to the visa you are seeking. Here we explain some of the requirements though it is not your responsibility to organize all of them, the organisation you will be dealing with will need to arrange the ones special to your visa type, except for tourist visas, of course. Naturally, you should assist where required by providing information. Preparing the documents can take some time, from a couple of weeks to months, as many bureaucratic procedures are involved. It is a good idea, however, to keep checking back with them that they are getting on with it as sometimes matters can slip.
Non-business Exchanges and Visits (F Visa)
F is issued to foreigners invited to China on a noncommercial exchange, investigation or visits for scientific-technological, education, cultural exchanges, health or sports activities. In some situations overseas businessmen with a need to travel frequently in and out of China over a longer period may be granted a 12 month multiple entry F.
The F type has over the years been used as a ‘catch all’ option. Consular offices seem to have been willing to issue them relatively easily and often for longer durations than a tourist L. It is not permitted to work as an employee of a Chinese business in China while on an F (there are a few exceptions such as working for a company funded from overseas), but many people have done so, often with the full knowledge of local officials, but on the other hand some people have been expelled!
1. Applicant’s passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.
2. One truly completed Application Form (PDF).
3. One recent passport-size color photo stuck on the application form.
4. To obtain an F, you must have one of the following documents: Invitation Letter, Confirmation Letter of Invitation (with the invitation letter attached) or conference notice issued by relevant entity, individual or duly authorized Chinese institute. The invitation letter should include following information:
a. Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
b. Information on the planned visit (purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, place(s) of visit, relations between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, financial source for expenditures)
c. Information on the inviting entity or individual (name, contact number, address, official stamp, signature of the legal representative of the entity or the inviting individual)
5. For a multiple entry F, copies of previous Chinese visas (on one A4 paper) are required.
Note: Under some circumstances, the applicants may be required to submit a copy of Chinese hotel reservation, return air ticket booking and financial proof.
Business or Trade Purposes (M visa)
M is a new business visa category from 1st Sept 2013, which is issued to foreigners coming for commercial and trade activities.
1. Application Form with a recently-taken color photo glued to or stapled on.
2. Valid passport and a copy of information page.
3. One of following documents:
a. Invitation letter issued by the Chinese business or trade partner.
b. Invitation letter or confirmation letter of Invitation issued by duly authorized Chinese institutes or relevant units.
c. Invitation letter of Trade Fair.
d. Business License or Certificate approving the establishment of enterprise which shows the applicant as the enterprise’s investor or owner.
4. For application of a multiple entry M: copy of all previous Chinese visas (on one A-4 sized paper) should be attached.
How to Apply
You can submit your application to the consular office of Chinese embassies or consulates by yourself, or ask someone else (such as your friends, relatives) or entrust an agency to do so on your behalf. The power of attorney is not required.
It regularly takes 4 working days for processing the application. However, the express service and rush service are also available if you want to pick up your visa earlier. Extra US$ 30 for the same-day collection; and additional US$20 for the second or third day collection.
The fees vary according to your nationality and number of entries. Generally speaking, the fee is higher if the number of entries is more.