Applying for a Visa


All this information is based on what people have reported as personal experience, and is subject to change without warning. It also can vary among the different consulates. The best strategy is to contact your local visa office and follow their directions. This is simply a guide, however, we strive to keep it as up to date as possible, so if you notice anything is incorrect, or needs specification, then please let us know.

On March 28, 2020, China announced the suspension of all visas issued before March 28, 200. If you have a visa issued before then, even it it is still valid, then you need a new visa to enter China. For example, if you have a 10 year M visa issued in January 2019, and good until January 2029, your visa cannot be currently used to enter China and you will need a new visa.

On September 28, 2020, China lifted the suspension on residence permits and anyone with a valid residence permit for work or family reunion purposes, meaning converted to a residence permit from a Z (work) or Q1 (family reunion) can return to China without a new visa. It is not possible to return on a residence permit converted from an X (student visa).

Anyone who had a valid residence permit that expired after March 28, 2020 and a valid work permit, which was renewed remotely, can in theory apply for a new visa with the expired residence permit and valid work permit and no PU invitation letter. This means you must be still employed by the employer and job that sponsored your expired residence permit. If your work permit and residence permit are both expired after March 28, 2020, then you will need a PU invitation letter.

If a) your residence permit expired before March 28, 2020 or b) you never had a residence permit and only a visa, or c) you are applying for your first visa, then you will need a PU invitation letter to apply for a new visa. A PU letter is an invitation letter issued by your local Foreign Affairs Office in China. The term PU comes from putong, meaning normal, and is for most invitation letters, contrasted to a TE letter, which stands for tebie, meaning special invitation letter, originally for people coming to fight the pandemic. Your work has to apply on your behalf, and the location in your PU letter has to be the consulate or embassy you plan on applying for your visa, which should be the one in your jurisdiction. The Chinese embassy/consulates will not accept PU invitation letters addressed to other Chinese consulates in Canada and will only process visas for people residing in their jurisdiction. With the exception of those in the maritimes, the Yukon, North West Territories, or Nunavut applying, you usually will have to submit your documents and pick up your visa in person. We have provided contact information and a list of jurisdictions for the various Chinese consulates/embassy in Canada here.

Once you are ready to apply for a visa, contact the visa office of the consulate in your jurisdiction. We have a list of visa offices and their jurisdictions here. You should email the visa office with the word URGENT in the subject and the nature of your emergency visa application, and attach the necessary documents you have. You will usually receive an automated email stating that the visa office is closed. This just means they are closed for normal applications but they are still processing emergency applications, such as those who need to get back to essential jobs or immediate family in China. You should still receive an email reply later. Certain visa offices (ie. Vancouver) are notoriously hard to get a response from. Often those who attach a flight itinerary with their visa application have gotten a quick response. If you are not getting a response, this can help but then you will need the flight confirmation when you submit your documents to apply for a visa. For submission of documents, the visa centre will follow appointment times and process you in that order. However, for visa pickup, it is first come, first served, so stand close to the door if you’re there before it opens.

Documents Required to Apply for a Visa with Expired Residence Permit, Valid Work Permit

These were the documents asked for at the Toronto China Visa Centre, in mid November to apply for a new visa for someone with an expired residence permit and a valid work permit which had been renewed remotely before it expired. It is not clear if a PU invitation letter is needed now. Early in the year, it wasn’t for this situation but it seems like some consulates now are asking for it.

  • Application Form
  • Copy of your passport bio page
  • Copy of previous Chinese visa if you have it
  • PU Invitation letter issued by the Foreign Affairs Office or Work Permit Card
  • Flight Itinerary

Documents Required to Apply for a Visa with Expired Residence Permit and Expired Work Permit

These were the documents asked for at the Toronto China Visa Centre, in mid November to apply for a new visa for someone with an expired residence permit and and expired work permit. You will also need a new criminal background check. They are valid for six months after the date they are issued. Your terminal degree/TEFL certificate that was previously legalized are still valid since they don’t expire. If you do not have these legalized (authenticated), you will need to legalize those too. Here is an explanation of how to get documents legalized for China. You will also need a medical check once you arrive in China.

  • Application Form
  • Copy of your passport bio page
  • The notification of foreigner’s work permit
  • PU Invitation letter issued by the Foreign Affairs Office or Work Permit Card
  • A personal statement from you stating the emergency reason to return, signed and dated
  • Invitation letter from your employer stating the emergency reason to return

Documents Required to Apply for a Z Visa for the First Time

You will definitely need a PU invitation letter to apply for a Z visa. Here are the documents required asked by the Toronto China Visa Centre. You will also need to have a criminal background check, terminal university degree (if applicable) , TEFL certificate (if applicable) legalized (authenticated) for applying for a work permit and residence permit in China. Here is an explanation of how to get documents legalized for China. You will also need a medical check once you arrive in China.

  • Application Form
  • Copy of your passport bio page
  • The notification of foreigner’s work permit
  • PU Invitation letter issued by the Foreign Affairs Office or Work Permit Card
  • A personal statement from you stating the emergency reason to return, signed and dated
  • Invitation letter from your employer stating the emergency reason to return

Medical Check

If you are applying for a new work permit and residence permit once you arrive in China, then you will also need to get a medical check. Usually, you can just do this step in China but it is possible you will need to do one in Canada as well. Even if you do get one done in Canada, it is likely you will need another in China. For there to be a chance that they accept the Canadian medical check in China, it will need to be legalized by the Chinese consulate/embassy in Canada, and even then, they are often refused. It is relatively cheap and easy to get a medical check in China once you arrive. You will need to go to approved hospital that is approved by the entry/exit bureau to provides medical checks foreigners.

Diana

Diana is from Montreal, but is currently living in Shenzhen. When she is not doing synthetic biology research in the lab at SIAT, she enjoys performing very amateur stand up comedy in the bars of Shenzhen and sailing in Dapeng or Hong Kong.

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