Getting a Chinese Visa – Six Types of Chinese Travel Visas

Getting a Chinese visa is necessary for any U.S citizen/resident intending to travel to China. The type of Chinese travel visa that you will need depends upon the nature of your trip. It’s important that all travelers bear the correct documentation, including the proper class of visa, in order to enter the country.
Six different types of Chinese travel visas are available. Different types of travel to the country require different classes of visas. Anyone getting a Chinese visa must apply for the correct type. The following is a list of those classes which apply to American tourists and what they mean for you and your trip:
1) Tourist visa (L-visa): This is the most commonly applied for type of Chinese travel visa. Tourist visas are issued to American citizen/residents who are traveling to the country for the purposes of sightseeing, visiting friends or family or for other personal reasons. Tourists possessing an L-visa cannot conduct business or work while in the country.
2) Business visa (F-visa): The F-visa is the second most commonly-issued Chinese travel visa. Any person intending to conduct business in the country must carry a valid F-visa. “Business” refers to conducting “an investigation, a lecture, to do business, [participate in] scientific-technological and culture exchanges, short-term advanced studies or internship.” Stay in China on a business visa is limited to six months or less. The F-visa does not allow a visitor to obtain employment within the country.
3) Employment/Work visa (Z-visa): This type of permit allows a foreigner to work in China. The foreigner’s family members would also be issued a Z-visa.
4) Student visa (X-visa): Foreigners who want to study in China can obtain an X-visa. This permit must be transferred within thirty days of arrival in China to a Residence Permit. The Residence Permit is issued by the public security bureau in the town where you will be living/studying. Your allowable length of stay in the country will be determined at that time. Usually the Residence Permit is issued for the length of the program of study. Students with an X-visa must supply proof that they are registered as students and proof of the length of the program of study. Sometimes students can study in China with an F-visa. Stipulations apply and must be clarified with the Chinese consulate. Students are only allowed to study up to six months with an F-visa.
5) Crew Visa (C-visa): This is a special type of permit issued only to workers such as airline crews, pilots and stewards who enter and exit the country periodically for work purposes. Extended stays are not usually permitted with C-visas other than those required for work.
6) J-1/J-2 Visa: This type of visitor’s permit is issued to news crews and correspondents who come to China for short term stays for the purposes of news coverage/reporting. These visas are also issued to dependents of news reporters and crews working in China. Allowable length of stay is usually determined on a case-by-case basis and generally. J-1 and J-2 visas generally cannot be used for long-term stays (more than a few months.)
Anyone getting a Chinese visa must fill out the proper application form. Chinese travel visa applications are available at passport processing outlets, online passport agencies and U.S. Post offices. Those who are unsure of what type of visa they require should contact the nearest Chinese consulate office. Citizens getting a Chinese visa- must first hold a valid U.S. passport.