China provides various categories of visas to foreign visitors based on the purpose of their visit. The tourist visa is the most prevalent type, which permits single-entry and is valid for three months. Along with the tourist visa, the business visa, and the student visa, they are also in high demand. In this article, we will provide an overview of all 16 visa categories available for China and the criteria for each one. This guide will be useful for those who are planning a visit to China or intending to pursue their studies there.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, China has updated its tourist visa (L visa) policy. Foreign visitors can now obtain L visas for tourism, family visits, or other personal reasons. Additionally, China has relaxed the restrictions on the number of entries allowed on a single L visa. However, L visa holders must comply with all health and safety measures, including undergoing a nucleic acid test within 72 hours of arrival and registering with local health authorities.

Tourist Visa (L)

To apply for a China tourist visa, applicants must provide evidence of their travel plans, such as flight confirmations or hotel reservations. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tourist visas are currently suspended. As China's tourist visa policy can change at any time, it's crucial to check the latest information before making travel arrangements. For more details on China's tourist visa policy, please contact the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

Tourist Visa (L) Requirements

  • Original Passport Plus a Photocopy of the Name Page.
  • Your Visa Application Form.
  • One Recent Passport Photo.
  • Round-trip tickets.
  • Hotel bookings.

BusinessVisa (M)

China has recently eased certain business travel restrictions that were implemented due to COVID-19. China Business Visa(M Visa) holders can now enter China for business purposes, subject to meeting specific requirements. To enter China, travelers must possess a business invitation letter issued by a legal entity in China with appropriate destinations for the business purpose. Additionally, travelers must obtain a negative nucleic acid test result within 48 hours of their flight, along with their health code and insurance that covers COVID-19.

All travelers must also undergo a mandatory 7-day quarantine upon arrival in China. However, for those who are unable to quarantine, China Business Visa holders can apply for special dispensation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With the lifting of these restrictions, China is once again open for business travel. It is crucial to check the latest Chinese visa requirements to ensure a successful trip.

Business Visa (M) Requirements

  • Original Passport Plus a Photocopy of the Name Page.
  • Your Visa Application Form.
  • One Recent Passport Photo.
  • Letter of Invitation.
  • Business Cover Letter.
  • Proof of State Residency.
  • PU Letter.
  • Authorization Letter.

WorkVisa (Z)

Foreign nationals who plan to work in China must obtain a Work Visa, also known as a Z Visa. To apply for a Work Visa, candidates must first obtain a written notice of employment from their employer in China. Afterward, applicants must submit their written employment notice, along with all necessary supporting documents, to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General, with jurisdiction over their place of residence.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries have imposed travel restrictions to and from China. Therefore, it's crucial to verify with the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General before submitting your application to determine if there are any special requirements or procedures that must be followed.

Work Visa (Z) Requirements

  • Original Passport Plus a Photocopy of the Name Page.
  • Your Visa Application Form.
  • One Recent Passport Photo.
  • Work permit.

Study Visa (X1 & X2)

China provides two types of visas for students: the China Student Visa (X1 Visa) and the China Study Visa (X2 Visa). The China Student Visa is available for students who are enrolled in a full-time degree program at a Chinese university. On the other hand, the China Study Visa is designed for students who are enrolled in part-time or non-degree programs, or who are studying Chinese language or culture.

The China X1 Visa is a multiple-entry visa that allows students to study in China for up to five years. In contrast, the China X2 Visa is a single-entry visa that allows students to study in China for up to six months.

X1/ X2 Visa Requirements

To apply for a China Student (X1) Visa, students must have a valid passport, a confirmed enrollment at a Chinese university,and a letter of invitation from their school. On the other hand, applicants for a China Study (X2) Visa must also possess a Confirmation Letter of Admission from their school, as well as a letter of invitation from an authorized institution.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all applicants must provide a negative COVID-19 test result within three days of their flight to China. For detailed information on how to apply for a China student visa, please refer to the website of the Chinese Embassy or consulate in your home country.

Non-Business Visa (F)

The China Non-Business Visa, also known as the China Non-commerce Visa, is granted to foreign nationals who intend to travel to China for non-business or non-commercial purposes, including research, scientific, cultural exchanges, lectures, and other non-profit activities.

Non-Business Visa (F) Requirements

  • Original Passport Plus a Photocopy of the Name Page.
  • Your Visa Application Form.
  • One Recent Passport Photo.
  • Hotel and Round-Trip Flight Confirmation.
  • Invitation Letter from China.

China Private Visa (S1 & S2)

China private visas are classified as China S1 or China S2 visas. The China S1 visa is for individuals who plan to visit a foreign permanent resident (non-Chinese) family member in China. The term "family members" includes spouses, parents, children under the age of 18, or parents-in-law. S1 visas are long-term and require multiple entry visas. Holders are obligated to apply for a residence permit within 30 days of entering China.

On the other hand, the China S2 visa is available for family members of China permanent residents or individuals traveling to China for private matters such as visiting friends, receiving medical services, divorce, adoption, marriage, and other private matters. S2 visas are 30-90 day single-entry visas.

China Private Visa (S1 & S2) Requirements

The requirements for both types of China private visas are similar, and both require that applicants have:

  • a valid passport
  • a recent photo
  • proof of financial capability

Furthermore, additional prerequisites may be necessary depending on the purpose of your visit. For instance, if you are traveling to China for medical treatment, you will need to provide evidence of medical insurance. For detailed information on China private Visa requirements, it is recommended to seek advice from a qualified China Visa specialist. It is important to note that all China S1/S2 Visa applications are currently suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions.

China Family Visa (Q1 & Q2)

China provides two types of visas for individuals who intend to visit family members residing in the country. The China Family Visa, also known as the China Q1 Visa, is intended for those related to Chinese citizens or permanent residents. The China Q2 Visa, on the other hand, is intended for spouses, children, and other immediate family members of foreign nationals residing in China.

The requirements for each of these visas differ, but all applicants must possess a valid passport and complete the visa application form. Moreover, applicants for a China Family Visa must provide evidence of their relationship to a Chinese citizen or permanent resident,- while those applying for a China Q2 Visa must provide evidence of their relationship to a foreign national living in China. Additionally, there may be additional Covid-19 restrictions in place during the time of application. For more information on Chinese family visas, please contact the nearest Chinese embassy consulate.

China Family Visa (Q1 & Q2) Requirements

  • a valid passport
  • a recent photo
  • Proof of kinship
  • Interview (in some cases)

Transit Visa (G)

China Transit Visas enable foreign nationals to transit through China for up to 72 hours without obtaining a formal visa. This visa type is commonly used by individuals who are connecting flights in China. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China Transit Visas are currently only available to travelers on direct flights from certain countries. Moreover, these visas are currently subject to a range of restrictions, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in China. For the most up-to-date information on China Transit Visas and China G Visas, please refer to the website of the Chinese Embassy or consulate in your home country.

Crew Visa (C)

The China Crew Visa, also referred to as the China C Visa, is for crew members of foreign airlines and international railway, ship, and motor vehicle carriers who are transiting through China on their way to another country. This visa type is also applicable to family members of crew members who are accompanying them on their journey. The C Visa is valid for a maximum of 72 hours, and crew members are not allowed to leave the designated transit city during this period.

Journalist Visa (J1 & J2)

China has a complex history with journalists and the country's visa policy reflects this tension. Although China began issuing journalist visas in the 1980s, the process was highly bureaucratic and restrictive. In recent years, China has made it easier for foreign journalists to obtain visas, but the process is still relatively complicated. There are three main types of journalist visas for China: the J1 visa for full-time professional journalists, the J2 visa for freelance journalists or journalists coming to China for a one-off story, and the L visa for non-journalist members of a journalism team.

The J1 visa is typically valid for a year and allows for multiple entries into China. The J2 visa is also valid for a year but only allows single entry. The L visa allows for multiple entries and is valid for up to six months. In addition to the standard requirements, journalists must now also meet Covid-19 regulations, which require them to present negative PCR tests taken within 72 hours of arrival. Despite the challenges, China remains a crucial story, and journalists who can navigate the visa process will be rewarded with unique insights into this fascinating country.

China Talent Visa (R)

China recently introduced a new visa category specifically for foreign talent. The China Talent Visa, also known as the China R Visa, is available to highly skilled individuals who can contribute to China's economic development. This visa is valid for five years and allows the holder to live and work in China without restrictions. Furthermore, holders of the China Talent Visa are eligible for several benefits, such as preferential tax treatment and social insurance. The introduction of the China Talent Visa is a positive development for China's economic development and international relations. However, it's important to note that the visa is subject to strict eligibility requirements.

China Permanent Visa (D)

The China Permanent Visa (D) is also known as the elusive "Chinese Green Card." This visa is available to foreign nationals who have been employed in China for four years or more. This allows holders to reside and work in China indefinitely and enjoy the same rights and privileges as Chinese citizens. Currently, there is no official application procedure for the China Permanent Visa (D).

It is crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest Chinese visa regulations as they are subject to constant change. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with a qualified Chinese visa specialist for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

A Guide to Obtaining a Chinese Visa

Applying for a Chinese visa may seem overwhelming, but with the right preparation and understanding of the process, it can be a smooth and successful experience. This guide will guide you through the steps to obtain a Chinese visa in 2023. Follow these guidelines to make the visa application process and increase your chances of securing a visa for your desired purpose.

Step 1: Determine the visa category that best matches your purpose of travel, such as a tourist visa (L Visa), business visa (M Visa), or student visa (X Visa), and research the eligibility criteria.

Step 2: Gather the necessary documents, including a valid passport, completed application form, photos, travel and accommodation proofs, financial statements, invitation letters (if applicable), and supporting documents specific to your visa category.

Step 3: Fill out the application form accurately, pay attention to personal information, travel itinerary, purpose of visit, and supporting documents. Double-check the form for errors before submitting it.

Step 4: Submit your application to the appropriate Chinese Embassy, consulate, or visa center, in advance of your travel dates, and follow the submission guidelines.

Step 5: Pay the visa fee as instructed and keep the payment receipt as proof.

Step 6: If required, attend a visa interview and prepare by reviewing your application and supporting documents, presenting yourself professionally and confidently.

Step 7: Track your visa processing status through the online tracking system provided by the embassy, consulate, or visa center, and collect your passport with the visa stamp once approved. Check the visa details for accuracy before traveling to China.

To successfully obtain a Chinese visa, it's important to carefully plan and follow the application process. By using this step-by-step guide, you can navigate the process with confidence. Make sure to research the specific requirements, gather all the necessary documents, and submit your application well ahead of your planned travel dates. With proper preparation, you'll be ready to explore China's many wonders.


ChaadHR, being a native Employer of Record (EOR) in China, provides complete support in setting up and managing your international workforce in China. With a professional team that has extensive experience in the local market, we are highly familiar with Chinese labor laws, tax and social security systems, and employment regulations. This enables us to ensure compliance and help you avoid pitfalls throughout the entire employment life cycle of your staff in China.