The type of visa you should apply for is based on your major purpose of travel. There are eight popular visa types: business (M), tourist (L), work (Z), student (X), private (S), family reunion (Q), crew (C), and group visa.
Issued to those who intend to go to China for touring, sightseeing or visiting friends. Proof of travel such as flight confirmation and hotel reservation or private invitation letter is required. Single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry are all available for tourists. The duration of stay (each visit) normally is 30-60 days. Multiple-entry up to 10 years is issued to US passport holder.
Business M visa is issued to those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities on behalf of a US business. M Visa is usually issued for single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry. M visa can be issued up to 10 years. The duration of stay (each visit) is normally 30-60 days based on particular Chinese Consulate.
Z issued to those who have obtained employment to work in China. A government issued working permit or employment license is required. Z visa is issued for single-entry only. Holders of Z Visa shall, within 30 days from the date of entry, register and apply for the residence permit in Public Security Bureau (police station). Residence permit is good for multiple entry. Z visa is also issued to people conducting commercial performance in China.
Issued to those who have been admitted by a Chinese college. Student Visa is sub-divided into X1 and X2. X1 is issued to foreign students who come to China for study for more than 6 months. X2 is issued to those who come to China with same purpose but for a period of less than 6 months. X2 visa is issued for single-entry only. X1 visa can be issued for multiple entry with validity up to 5 years.
Q1 visa is designed for Chinese descendants or foreigners who are spouses of Chinese citizens. Issued to those who are direct family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days. “direct family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters. Original proof of kinship is required. Interview may be required. Q1 visa is issued for single-entry and Q2 is for multiple-entry up to 10 years.
Issued to foreign crew members utilizing means of international transportation including: aircraft, trains, ships, and motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities. Multiple-entry up to 5 years is only issued to US passport holder.
Issued to those who intend to go to China to live with the immediate family member working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private affairs. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days. “Immediate family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 or parents-in-law. Original proof of kinship is required. S1 visa is issued for single-entry and S2 for multiple-entry up to 10 years.
Group Visa is a particular type of visa that issued to a tourist group which comprises at least five (5) members who must travel together in China. Group Visa is issued as a separate sheet instead of on the individual passport. One Official Visa Notification Letter from any head office of the China Travel Service (CTS), China International Travel Service (CITS), or China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), or Chinese National Tourism Bureau is required.
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