US citizens doing preliminary research for their first trip to China might be surprised to learn they are charged far more for visas than any other nationality. This isn’t – necessarily – due to the state of either nation’s economy, but simply an act of reciprocity: Chinese nationalists coming to the US are charged comparable rates for visas. If you are planning to fly into China this year, knowing how to get a visa is a necessity.
Unlike countries in Southeast Asia which allow visas on arrival, staff at Chinese consulates and embassies require a travel itinerary with confirmed hotel reservations and proof of departure – having flexible plans or planning to purchase a flight once in China may not be possible. Other situations may require an invitation letter with the visa application (https://www.travelvisapro.com/blog/china-visa-invitation-letter/).
It would be nice to think we can simply take a few minutes off from work to walk up to a Chinese embassy and walk out with a valid visa, but the process often doesn’t work this way. Navigating the paperwork for different types of visas to any country can be a hassle even when everything goes according to plan.
Expedited Processing for Chinese Visas
Unfamiliar with the Chinese visa application, or just need a professional looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do next? Travel Visa Pro has you covered. Our teams of travel experts based in nine different offices across the US can facilitate your Chinese visa application, from getting all the blanks on the forms filled out properly, to handing it over to the consulate in person and ensuring it will be returned before your flight. Or you can apply for China visa online here.
With over 40 years of experience, TVP staff have built professional relationships with consular staff. This can often make the difference between a visa application in an office swamped with applicants being returned late one afternoon instead of early the following morning. Whatever your visa and passport needs, Travel Visa Pro is ready to help.
Are there any free visas to China?
Surprisingly, there are, though any you could use to actually explore China as a tourist are relatively new. Recently the Chinese government extended their 24- and 72-hour transit visa (G) policies (https://www.travelvisapro.com/blog/getting-24-hour-transit-visa-china/) in some cities to allow travelers to stay up to 144 hours without an official L visa obtained in advance. US citizens qualify for these visas on arrival in Beijing and Shanghai (with other cities still allowing 24- and 72-hour transit visas), provided they have proof of ongoing travel by land, sea, or air, and can provide some of the same information required for tourist visas: proof of accommodation, local address in China, etc.
China visa costs and fees for US citizens
However, most visas to China must be arranged in advance of one’s departure and will be inspected at the airport both at check in and prior to boarding. US citizens traveling exclusively for tourist qualify for an L visa, with Business (F/M), Student (X), and Work (Z) visas requiring more paperwork and preparation.
Due to reciprocity, Americans are charged $140 for any type of visa to China, either at an embassy or consulate. This fee includes regular service, which is recommended if you have more than a few weeks before your flight. However, express service is available for $20 more if you plan to travel within that time, and rush service for an additional $30.
To get any visa, bring your US passport valid for at least six months and with a minimum of two blank pages to the nearest Chinese consulate or embassy; appointments are usually not required. The visa application form must be completed and submitted with one passport-sized photo and the fee. Whether you’re planning to visit China on a transit visa, applying for a tourist visa at a consulate on your own, or entrusting your documents to Travel Visa Pro, make sure you double check everything in your application and make sure all the aforementioned documents are included. Anything missing could mean a costly delay or cancellation.
Do you have any questions about visas to China? Leave them in the comments below!