R visa is a new type of visa specifically issued by the Chinese government to foreign high-level talents and specialist personnel in shortage that are urgently needed for the Chinese economic and social development. It was initially defined in the PRC Administrative Regulations on Entry and Exit of Foreigners coming into force on 1 September 2013 and starts to be implemented now according to the Measures for Implementing the Visa System for Foreign Talents (“Measures”) which were issued on 28 November 2017 by the three PRC authorities, i.e. the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (“SAFEA”), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MFA”) and the Ministry of Public Security (“MPS”).

What is the advantage of holding a R visa? 

A R visa holder can enjoy the following benefits:

  • A R visa holder will be granted with a visa with a validity period of 5 to 10 years with multiple entries;
  • The spouse and underaged children of a R visa holder can also be granted with visas having the same validity period with multiple entries;
  • A R visa applicant can enjoy express service for visa application. A R visa can be issued within 2 working days; and
  • No visa fees and no express-service fees will be charged to the R visa applicant, his/her spouse and/or underaged children.

Who can get a R visa?

In general, R visa will be issued to scientists, technological leaders, international entrepreneurs or talents with extraordinary abilities, who are needed for the Chinese economic and social development and accommodated to the market demand. A R visa applicant should meet the criteria for Category A as defined in the Classification Standards for Foreigners Working in China (Trial Implementation), which are formulated and may be amended from time to time by the SAFEA together with the MFA and the MPS.

What are the application procedures?

In general, there are two steps to be taken in order to obtain a R visa:

  • A Chinese company inviting the foreign talent to come to China shall apply for a Confirmation Letter on Foreign High-level Talent(s) for the foreign talent with the SAFEA at provincial level on online by submitting relevant application documents. Upon issuing a Confirmation Letter on Foreign High-level Talent(s), the authority will exchange such information with the Chinese embassies or consulates. 
  • With the aforesaid Confirmation Letter on Foreign High-level Talent(s), the foreign talent can apply for a R visa with the Chinese embassies or consulates in the country where he/she resides. 

Can a R visa substitute a work permit? 

A R visa is a permission issued by the Chinese government to foreigners to come to China for visit such as taking business trip, etc. rather than for work in China. Therefore, a R visa shall not be a substitute of a work permit. A foreigner coming to China for work must obtain a work permit and residence permit for work purpose.

R visa holders applying for a work permit and residence permit for work purpose can enjoy some advantages. For example, they can apply for work permits directly in China without getting a working visa, i.e. Z visa abroad, and with less application documents and a shorter approval period.

The new R visa policies will bring a number of advantages to high-talents who need to visit China very frequently. In the past, they had to repeatedly apply for a business visa which has limitations on the validity period and times of entry. Further, if these foreign talents intend/need to work in China later, they can more easily obtain work permits.