Anyone who wants to live in China or simply visit China, needs a visa to legally enter the country. Getting a piece of paper glued into your passport seems easy enough; however, as of late, China has been adding more and more visa types which makes figuring out which China visa you need not as easy as it used to be.
China currently issues a jumble of visas that cover almost half of the English alphabet: C, D, F, G, L, J1, J2, M, R, Q1, Q2, S1, S2, X1, and Z. Each visa type will vary in cost depending on the type but also the duration of stay and number of entries. Understanding the differences between these visas and exactly which visa you need is an important first step to take before finalizing your China travel plans. Here is a breakdown of each visa type:
C: You should work for a airline or ship company to get this visa.
D: Issued to foreigners who can reside in China permanently.
F: Are you going to China do conduct research or some kind of cultural exchange? Get this one.
G: Using a China tour company and traveling with 5 or more people? “G” stands for “great visa for you”.
L: If you’re just going to see the Great Wall or the second-tallest building in the world, this one is for you.
J: This is for journalists only.
M: Get this visa if you are going to China for a conference or business meetings.
R: This China visa is for high-level experts who specialize in industries that China is focused on improving.
Q: Do you have family (of Chinese descent) in China?
S: Do you have family (who are also foreigners) in China?
X: If you’ve been accepted to a Chinese school, you’ll come over on this visa.
Z: Any full-time job in China requires this visa.
Occasionally, your reason for coming to China may cross over into two or more visa areas. For example, if you want to attend a two-day business conference but will then spend a couple of weeks traveling around China, should you get the L tourist visa or the F business conference visa? Your final choice will likely depend if you are applying yourself or with a visa agent.
The L tourist visa is easiest to get on your own, but if you are using a visa agent or company who frequently applies for business visas, they might recommend a F visa. When in doubt about which type to choose, ask a professional visa agent. You don’t want to have a denied China visa application on your record.
As we mentioned in a previous post about how to become an English teacher, you will usually want a Z visa to work in China, although everyone’s situation is unique. The basic requirements for a Z work visa are that you have 2 years of work experience and a college degree. Some people prefer to come over to China on one visa and then switch to a Z visa while in China. To do that, you’ll to submit your application and a paper to the local police station that says you don’t have a criminal record, go take a physical exam to make sure you’re healthy and submit your original college diploma for visa processing.
Go ahead and choose the best visa for you and we look forward to seeing you in China! If you need any help deciding what visa you need to teach in China with Good Teachers Union, feel free to ask us. Even if you don’t have previous teaching experience or a college degree, we may still be able to help you find a great job teaching younger kids (ages 3-8) in China. The basic requirements for those positions are usually just a great deal of patience and endless energy!