The new regulation “Administrative Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on the Exit and Entry of Foreign Nationals”, came into effect on 1 September 2013 affecting all foreigners wishing to travel to China.

On 30 June 2012, the Standing Committee of the 11th Chinese National People’s Congress enacted the "Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China" (New Law) which came into effect on 1 July 2013. The State Council subsequently promulgated the "Administrative Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on the Exit and Entry of Foreign Nationals" (New Regulation) on 12 July 2013, which came into effect on 1 September 2013.

The New Law and the New Regulation impose stricter controls over foreigners with respect to their entry, residence and work in China. According to the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China, the term "foreigners" refers to persons who do not have Chinese citizenship.

Under the New Law and the New Regulation, visas will continue to be divided into diplomatic visas, courtesy visas, service visas and ordinary visas. A foreigner entering the PRC for reasons other than diplomatic or officer service, such as for work, study, visiting relatives, tourism, business activities or as skilled personnel will require the relevant ordinary visa. The categories of ordinary visa have increased from 8 to 12 and residence permits are now categorised into 5 types.

Ordinary Visas

Ordinary visas are divided into the following categories:

  • C-visas are issued to international train attendants, international air crew members, seamen operating international services and their accompanying family members, and car drivers engaging in international road transportation
  • D-visas are issued to foreigners who are to reside permanently in China
  • F-visas are issued to foreigners who come to China for exchanges, visits, inspections, etc
  • G-visas are issued to foreigners transiting through China
  • J1-visas are issued to resident foreign correspondents of foreign news organisations resident in China; and J2-visas are issued to foreign correspondents who make short trips to China to gather and report news
  • L-visas are issued to foreigners who come to China for tourism (those travelling with tour groups may be issued a group L-visa)
  • M-visas are issued to foreigners who come to China for business or commercial activities
  • Q1-visas are issued to the relatives of Chinese citizens applying to enter and reside in China for family reunion; and Q2-visas are issued to the relatives of Chinese citizens and of persons qualified for permanent residence in China who are applying to enter and stay for a short period to visit relatives
  • R-visas are issued to foreign nationals whose special skills are needed in China
  • S1-visas are issued to spouses, parents, parent-in-law and children under 18 years old of foreigners residing in China for study or work who come to China for long-term family visits (more than 180 days), and other persons who need to reside in China for personal reasons; and S2-visas are issued to family members of foreigners residing in China for study or work who come to China for short-term visits (less than or equal to 180 days), and other persons who need to reside in China for personal reasons
  • X1-visas are issued to persons applying for long-term study (more than 180 days) in China; and X2-visas are issued to persons applying for short-term study (less than or equal to 180 days) in China
  • Z-visas are issued to persons applying to work in China

Residence Permits

Under the New Regulation, residence permits are divided into five types, namely: (i) working residence permits; (ii) study residence permits; (iii) journalist residence permits; (iv) family reunion residence permits; and (v) personal affairs residence permits. Different types of visa holders who intend to take up residence should apply for the corresponding residence permits within 30 days of entry into China.

A working residence permit will be valid for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 5 years and a non-work residence permit will be valid for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 5 years.

When applying for a residence permit, a foreigner is required to submit his/her residence application to the relevant authority where he/she resides and provide to the authority his/her valid passport, a photo that meets regulatory requirements, his/her biometrics information and other information as required.

A foreigner applying for residence permit valid for over 1 year will also need to provide the relevant authority with a health certificate which is valid for 6 months from the date of issuance.

Exit

Foreigners are required to leave China within the time limit prescribed by their visas or within the period of validity of their residence permits.

A foreigner holding a residence permit who does not wish to return to China after exit is required to return his/her residence permit for cancellation to the border check-point upon exit.

Penalties

Foreigners who illegally enter or exit China may, inter alia, be subject to a fine and detention.