Before there was an M visa for business travelers to China, the F visa was used. However, these days the F visa isn’t just for those investing in the Chinese market or working over there; specifically, it’s a non-commercial visa for research, scientific study, lecturing, cultural exchange, and studying.
When an F Visa is Right for you
The F visa can be used for tourism, work (though not with a Chinese company), and study in addition to more obscure categories like visiting lecturers and entertainers. In essence, it’s the miscellaneous version of visas to China.
F Visa Requirements
Like L tourist visas and M work visas to China, F visas requirements remain somewhat the same. US citizens will need a passport book valid for at least one year, the visa application form, an invitation letter, a passport-sized photo, and proof of previous entries to China, whether they’re on your existing passport or an expired one. As always, proof of hotel and flight reservations may be required.
How Long Can I Stay on an F Visa
F visas to China are valid for one year – hence requiring passports to have at least one year before they expire. However, there are three different types: single entry, double entry, and multiple entry. A stay between 30-90 days is granted in each case depending on the purpose for your visit to China.
Processing Time and Fees
The standard processing time and fee for any US citizen applying for a Chinese visa is four business days and $140, respectively. However, rush service is available in 2-3 business days for an additional $20, and express service in one day for an additional $30.
Consider your needs before applying for an F visa to China. If your business is straightforward, has ties to a Chinese company, and won’t require you to be in the country for more than two months, an M visa might be preferable. Similarly, an L tourist visa is limited to two-month stays.