China famously has more complex visa requirements for US citizens than most countries and many visitors may see the process of applying for a visa as a daunting one.
There are four types of visas you can apply for to enter China, these are: Diplomatic Visa, Courtesy Visa, Service Visa and Ordinary Visa. It is likely that most visitors will be applying for an Ordinary Visa, but to make the process even more confusing, this type of visa is again broken down into a series of categories which indicate the purpose of your visit. If you’re planning on visiting China as a tourist then you will need to apply for visa category L.
Chinese visas require a notorious amount of paperwork and preparation before you are in a position to submit your application. Some of the requirements are basic, such as a passport with at least six months validity remaining as well as a completed application form. However, others are slightly more complicated. In order for your visa application to be accepted you will need to have your entire itinerary booked including return international flights out of China as well as hotel confirmations for the duration of your trip. Alternatively, you can present an invitation letter from an individual within China, which includes all personal and contact details as well as a signature from their legal representative.
China visa requirements for US citizens
Once you’ve got all of this information in order you’re ready to apply for a Chinese Visa! The next step is working out where to do it. There is one Chinese Embassy (in Washington DC) and five Chinese Consulates in the US where you can submit your application. However, each Embassy or Consulate has a separate jurisdiction and will only accept applications from residents in states that are covered by it. The five Chinese Consulates are located in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
Unfortunately, mail applications will not be accepted and if you submit your application at the wrong Consulate it will be delayed and may even be rejected. So if you live in Miami you will need to visit Houston in person to apply for a visa, a trip of around 1,200 miles! That may sound like a nightmare so, fortunately, there is an alternative. Visa agencies can apply for a visa on your behalf, saving you a lot of time, money and hassle.
Chinese Visas cost $140 regardless of whether you require a single or multiple entry visa. If you think you’ll be entering China more than once then you have the option of double or multiple entry visas (with further choice between multiple entry visas with six or twelve month validity). The standard turnaround time for a visa is four days; however, there are quicker options available. For an extra $20, you can receive an express service so your visa is ready for collection in two or three days and if you’re really in a rush you can pay for a one day service for an additional $30 per visa. The full amount is due upon collection and cash payments will not be accepted at the Embassy or any of the Consulates.
We provide hassle-free visa services for those looking to visit China, contact Travel Visa Pro here.