Navigating the paperwork for visas to any number of foreign countries can be a nightmare even when everything goes as smoothly as possible. China in particular is well known for having strict requirements and high fees for US citizens seeking tourist visas. Of course, if you are planning to visit Asia this year, knowing how to apply for a Chinese visa is a necessity.
Chinese Visa Checklist
US citizens must apply for a visa – tourist, student, business – before arriving in China. Those who are adept at trip planning may be able to take advantage of on-arrival transit visas for up to a 144-hour stay in Shanghai and the surrounding areas. However, even Beijing and other major cities in Chinese offer these visas for 24 or 72 hours. Business (F/M), Student (X), and Work (Z) visas may require more paperwork than usual, with Tourist (L) and Transit (G) more commonly issued.
So, what exactly do you need on hand before arriving at a Chinese embassy or consulate? To get a visa to China, your US passport should have least six months’ validity; it’s also a good idea to have at least two blank pages in the event you decide to extend your stay and need room for the extra stamps. The application form must be completed and submitted with one passport-sized photo.
How to get a Visa to for China?
If you are planning on getting a Chinese work visa, an invitation letter is essential. This document will show the details of the relationship between a visa holder and Chinese host in addition to stating the purpose of the visit, where the visa holder will sleep, and the date of arrival and departure from China.
Chinese Visa Fees
The US Department of State currently charges Chinese citizens $160 for tourist visas. As a result of reciprocity, the fees imposed by China for their tourist visas are equally as high for Americans – $140 – while citizens of other countries are charged $30 or less. There also may be additional fees if you need expedited service for your Chinese visa application. Regular Service is recommended if you plan to travel to China in a matter of weeks. While this costs nothing besides the visa application fee, Express Service (if you plan to travel within the month) and Rush Service (if you plan to travel within the next week) are available for $20 and $30 extra, respectively.
How to Apply for a Chinese Visa?
While it’s tempting to think travelers can simply walk into a consulate one morning and leave with a legal travel visa – and you can for some countries – that isn’t the case for China. As mentioned above, be aware of the processing time for tourist visas; though the consulate can expedited their services for a price, this still means your US passport will be in consular officer hands for a matter of days; unless you have a second passport book, you’ll be unable to apply for another visa or use it as a form of identification.
China is also not a country to which you should state to immigration that your travel plans are flexible. Like many other countries, Chinese immigration requires proof of onward travel if you want to enter the country. An airline reservation or international train ticket to Hong Kong will suffice. In addition, anyone traveling to China under any type of visa must provide proof of address at the time of the application. For tourists, this means showing a confirmation letter or email from a hotel. For those traveling for work, a contract proving employment with the company address is required.
Once all of your documents are together, your travel plans set, and your passport verified, you can choose to visit a Chinese consulate yourself or entrust your application to a visa expediting company.
Travel Visa Pro Helps with Chinese Visas
If you are looking for a reliable way to process your Chinese visa application without the hassle, Travel Visa Pro has you covered. Our team of travel experts has over 40 years of experience between them and has built relationships with consular staff through professional contacts and years of working together. Using these, we can make the difference between a visa application arriving late one afternoon or early the next morning.
If you’re unfamiliar with visa applications and simply need a travel expert to walk you through the paperwork, Travel Visa Pro is ready to help. With our Concierge Service, someone will be personally assigned to your application and help fill in any blanks that could potentially delay or cancel a Chinese visa.
Have you already traveled to China? What would you recommend for newbies?