Guide for Americans applying for Chinese business or work visa

Business people heading to China have a few options for the type of visa needed. The F visa is designed for those doing business short-term in China, while the Z visa is for expatriate workers hired by a Chinese or international company to work and earn a salary while in the country. Both can be issued by the Chinese Embassy, a Chinese consulate office or from within China itself.

Guide for Americans applying for Chinese business or work visa

The F Travel Visa – For People Doing Business in China

The F visa is considered a short-term business visa and is designed for people who are doing business, internships, scientific or cultural exchanges or other activities that don’t involve full time employment with a company located in China.

The F visa is available for six months or one year. The six month visa can be renewed once in China. After holding an F visa for one year (either as a full year visa or two six month visas), the individual must exit and re-enter China before being issued another F visa. It is common for people to travel to Hong Kong, Mongolia, South Korea or another nearby country for a weekend trip to fulfill this requirement.

The F visa is available as a single entry, double entry or multiple entry visa. These indicate how often the visa holder can leave and return to China during the period of their visa. For example, a one-year multiple entry visa would allow the holder to travel in and out of China as often as desired over the period of one year.

To obtain an F visa, the applicant must provide their passport valid for six months to a year, a passport-sized photograph (2 X 2 inches in size), a letter of invitation from a Chinese company and/or an official business letter from the sponsoring U.S. company and the fee for visa processing.

It is generally advisable to use a visa agency to procure a Chinese F visa, since any missed requirements will result in delays or denial of the visa.

The Z Travel Visa – For People Working Full Time in China

The Z Visa in China is designed for full time employees living and working in China. Obtaining this type of visa is usually handled by the hiring company, since it is extremely difficult to get one as an individual.

chinese work visa

The Chinese government requires a few things for a Z visa, including an official invitation from the hiring company, a work permit for aliens and a foreign expert’s license issued by the Chinese government, and a health certificate from an officially sanctioned doctor or health center. Often, new employees are instructed to obtain an L or F visa before arriving in China and then the company will obtain the Z visa, since it is easier to get all of the paperwork completed once in China. After obtaining the Z visa, the individual will have to register with the local public security department and obtain a residence permit.

Chinese Z Visas and the accompanying residence permit are hard to obtain but easy to renew. Generally, the employer will renew the visa and permit every six months to a year as long as the person continues to work for that company. If an individual switches companies, the former employer should provide a work release form which will be used by the new employer to switch the visa and permit over to the new company.

Overall, obtaining the correct Chinese visa can make the transition to doing business in China much easier. For those interested in traveling to China short-term, as a tourist or visitor, check out the article Get a Travel Visa for China for the requirements for an L-type Chinese visa.

Tips for Travelling to China

Nobody should try and see everything in a single whirlwind tour. Travelers will come home with some impressive pictures but that’s about it. For those who are about to make their first visit to China, it would be sensible to see the biggest cities at a comfortable pace, and then come back on later trips and explore individual provinces with their unique ethnic minorities and archaeological wonders. This article will cover the essential aspects of weather, visa requirements and costs of travelling in China.

The Best Time to Visit China

This will be the most important consideration when planning a trip. China stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the foothills bordering the Himalayas, and temperatures vary considerably in between those two points for most of the year. May, September and October are generally the best times to visit, when rainfall is at a minimum and humidity is low.

Winters can be incredibly cold with lots of snow in Beijing and the rest of northern China along the Mongolian/Russian borders. Summers bring extreme humidity and monsoons, particularly near Shanghai and Hong Kong. Travelers will experience the hottest weather in any of the four ‘furnaces’ of China from July to September. These cities are the hottest in the country.

china travel


Sometimes Turpan, Nanchang and Tianjin are added to this list. Summer temperatures in these cities usually hover between 38°C–41°C.

Entry/Exit Regulations for Visitors to China

All foreign nationals entering the country must have a passport that will be valid for at least six months after departure. Visas are always required for tourists, and can be obtained at a Chinese embassy in the country of residence.

The Chinese government issues single, double and multiple entry visas, the last two of which will let travelers exit the Chinese mainland and re-enter on the same visa. Travelers who intend to visit Hong Kong or Macao even for a few hours should consider applying for double or multiple entry documents.

Getting into Tibet will require a special permit, which can be picked up at a local travel agency. The permits cost one-hundred renminbi, which comes to about fifteen U.S. dollars. Travelers who enter Tibet from China will need a valid Chinese visa as well.

Here are the different classifications for Chinese visas. Fees and processing times will vary depending on the country of origin and the visa being applied for.

‘L’ visas are for tourists.
‘F’ visas are for those who are travelling to China on business.
‘X’ visas are for students wishing to further their education in China.
‘Z’ visas are for those who will take up paid employment.
‘G’ visas are for foreigners who are travelling to another country through China.
‘D’ visas are for those who will reside permanently in China.
‘J-1’ and ‘J-2’ visas are for journalists. The former is for long term reporters and the latter is for those on short term assignments.

Is China an Expensive Place

Although prices are going up due to China’s growing economy, the costs of food, drinks and sightseeing are considerably lower than in the U.S. and Europe. The eastern half of the country is more expensive than the west, with the highest prices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The Chinese currency is the yuan, also known as renminbi (people’s money). Notes come in denominations of one-hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, five and one. There are one yuan, five jiao and one jiao coins. Ten jiao is equal to one yuan. Similar to other Asian countries, tipping in China has never been customary in the past but this is starting to change. Hotel and restaurant staff would appreciate small gratuities. One U.S. dollar equals seven yuan. Foreign currencies can be changed at airports, hotels and banks but banks would give the best rates.

Western food and amenities can be found easily in China’s cosmopolitan centres. KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and other Western fast food chains have set up shop in the country and are quite popular with the locals. Rural areas are quite rustic and people are likely to speak nothing except Mandarin Chinese. Cantonese and English are spoken in Hong Kong, while Portuguese is spoken in Macao.

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