enter China to live and work in Shanghai



Immigration China
Almost without exception, visitors from most countries will require a visa to enter China. Tourist visas are usually 30-day single entry visas or 60-day multiple-entry visas. These can be extended for 30 days.

Once inside China, it is also possible to get six month and even one year multiple-entry business visas from visa specialists. Visas are issued at Chinese embassies and consulates or can be obtained from a number of private companies who do all the leg work on your behalf and often offer very good deals.

U.S. citizens, take note: as of April 2004, the Chinese government has introduced new visa policies for U.S. citizens: visas are no longer issued on arrival; U.S. diplomats on private visits must apply and be charged for their visas, and some applicants will be interviewed.



Photo:Microsoft Office Clipart

Please note: All foreigners entering China, within 24 hours have to register a the PSB which is a part of China's domestic police force. The rules apply to foreigners staying in hotels, serviced apartments, private partments and private homes, even if visiting only for a single day. Expatriates living in China can be fined RMB 5,000 if their regisration entry cannot be found in the PSB records. If you stay in a hotel, usually the hotel is responsible to provide this service at check in. See the website below.


Most expatriates and their families will get a `Z' visa; the following types are also available:

Visa C - Train / Flight Attendants & Seamen


Tourist Visas

A tourist visa is the easiest visa to obtain for a short-term trip. Visas must be obtained before arriving, from private visa specialists (ask your travel agent or check on line) or at Chinese embassies or consulates abroad.

Two passport pictures, the completed application form and the application fee are required. The application fee varies by country; check your country's Chinese embassy for details.

There are additional requirements for first-time visa applicants who are foreign-born children of Chinese descent or who were born in China: the former must provide a birth certificate and one parent's foreign passport of residence card; the latter must provide these items as well as their Chinese passport or previous foreign passports.

The standard tourist visa is a single-entry 30-day visa. Multiple-entry, 60-day visas are also available and may be extended for 30-days. Visitors must enter China within three months from the date of visa issuance.



Transit Visa

Overseas travellers connecting to an onward flight in Shanghai are granted at least 24 hour visa-free transit. Up to 48 hours is permitted for nationals of some countries. For longer transits, Visa G is required, and the applicant must show valid visas and ongoing tickets.


Student Visa

Visas for study or internships are issued for six months or more and require the following supporting documents (obtainable at Chinese embassies and consulates): the Application Form for Overseas Students to China (JW201 Form or JW202 Form), Admission Notice and Physical Examination Record for Foreigners. Student visa extensions require a letter from the sponsoring school. Up to eight photographs are also necessary.

Usually, universities are too slow in getting information to you, so you must enter China on a 30-day visa and then upgrade to a student visa once you have collated all the necessary paperwork from your place of study. Keep every piece of paper that they give you in a folder - even if you think it is useless, keep it! China has strict bureaucratic systems that require precise documentation and trying to get copies of missing forms can be mind numbingly difficult.



Work Visa

For individuals who will be employed in China and their accompanying families an Employment License of the People's Republic of China for Foreigners and a visa notification letter/telegram issued by an authorized organization is required.

If you are working for a company, your employer will arrange all this for you. If you are setting up a representative office, your agent will take care of all your documentation as part of the package they offer.


Visiting Journalist Visa

Applicants for J-2 (visiting journalists) visas are required to provide a certificate issued by the Chinese authorities; local embassies and consulates can provide the necessary applications.


Permanent Residence Visa

For ethnic Chinese aliens, a permanent residence confirmation form, obtained from the Public Security Bureau's entry-and-exit department is required. The law now permits non-Chinese aliens to apply for permanent residence status as well, but so far these have been foreigners whose companies or endeavors have made significant contributions to Shanghai.



Train/Flight Attendants and Seamen Visa

Issued to train attendants, air crew members and seamen operating international services, and to their accompanying family members. In order to apply for a Visa C, relevant documents are required to be provided in accordance with bilateral agreements or regulations of the Chinese side.



Journalist Visa

Applicants for J-1 visas, foreign correspondents resident in Shanghai, are required to provide a certificate issued by the Chinese authorities; local embassies and consulates can provide the necessary applications.

Exit China

Visitors will only be allowed to exit China if they have a valid permit. You should arrange to leave China one day before your visa is due to expire and not on the same day. Failure to have a valid visa will result in you having to miss your flight and wait a day or two to be issued a new visa.

Also note, babies born in Shanghai need a visa quickly after birth. There have been several cases of recently born expat babies being turned away at the airport for not having valid visas. Don't make this expensive and troublesome mistake, even if someone tells you that you do not need a visa.