China: New visa rules may trip up tourists, business travelers

Discussion in 'Asia' started by sobore, Aug 20, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-china-new-visa-rules-20120817,0,47203.story

    If you’re planning a trip to China and don’t have an up-to-date visa in hand, you may encounter some additional red tape.

    On Aug. 1, the Chinese government started requiring that travelers seeking tourist visas, officially known as L visas, submit a letter of invitation and photocopies of the traveler’s round-trip ticket and hotel reservations.

    To obtain a business, or F Visa, applicants must now have an invitation letter or “confirmation letter of invitation” issued by an authorized Chinese agency. This is in addition to an invitation letter issued by a Chinese local government, company, corporation or institution.

    For tourists, the invitation letter can come from a “duly authorized tourism unit” or it can be issued by a company, corporation, institution or individual in China. If the letter comes from an individual, a photocopy of her or his identification must also be provided.

    The new, more complicated rules, unfortunately, don't completely spell out what is considered a "duly authorized tourism unit" or what constitutes a "letter of invitation." Consulate officials did not respond to our request for additional clarification.


    Read More: http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-china-new-visa-rules-20120817,0,47203.story
     
  2. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Bummer! Some of the requirements (e.g., photocopies of the traveler’s round-trip ticket and hotel reservations) used to be there but then they just stopped enforcing them for some time, and now it seems that they are back to enforcing them. The 'letter of invitation' for L visa would be new and would make it similar to obtaining a visa for the Russian Federation. It is a way to raise revenues because what will happen is that "official" websites that issue electronic invitations for China within minutes for a fee will start to pop up all over the net.
     
    HiIslands, jbcarioca and uggboy like this.
  3. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    This remind me of the Russian visa requirement of being invited by a Russian citizen. International hotels would employ someone for this purpose and charge a fee for the invitation. IMO it's a scam.

    It's too bad that China is stepping back from its policy of facilitating travel to China by foreigners by issuing multiple entry visas easily, allowing visa-free transit, etc.
     
    HiIslands, MX, jbcarioca and 2 others like this.
  4. uggboy
    Original Member

    uggboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    50,181
    Likes Received:
    133,438
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Sad that China prefers to step back, instead of taking a leap forward.
     
    jbcarioca and NYCUA1K like this.
  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    This is a real shame. Over the past couple of years I got multiple entry visas for China without questions asked. In fact, I still have a multiple entry visa that I got last December that is good until Dec 13, 2012, which is too bad because it will expire just a week shy of my planned 3rd trip back. I could stay in China for up to 90 days during each visit. It did get rather easy to get such visas, as the first time I went to the Chinese Consulate here in NYC to request a multiple entry visa, I'd taken with me several invitations form organizers of meetings that I'd planned to attend that year, but the consular officer simply took the application form and just returned all the other documents without even looking at them. I wonder what has caused this sudden change in what seemed like a deliberate policy by China to facilitate, in fact encourage, travel to China...:confused:

    Addendum:

    Things are not as bad as I'd thought or as bad as for the Russian Federation. Just checked the new policy on the website of the Consulate General of the PRC in NYC and found this:
    Because by the time I go to apply for a visa I would always have booked my flight and hotel, I would not need to get an invitation letter from China. I had initially understood the policy as requiring an invitation letter in addition to the other documents like for Russia. This is the way it used to be...They have just decided to begin enforcing the old policy again, for whatever reason.
     
    HiIslands, jbcarioca and uggboy like this.
  6. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    This change seems to be only US citizens, so if you're not a US citizen YMMV. There is no change at all for Brazilians visa to China for example.

    Since Russia was also mentioned note that many countries now no longer needs a visa for Russia including, among many others, such as most Latin American and many Asian countries.
     
    uggboy and MX like this.
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Do airlines and hotels refund your money if you end up having your visa denied?

    And do you actually have to fly on the booked itinerary, or could you just book a placeholder ticket (award that's cancellable without fee or a fully refundable coach ticket)?
     
    uggboy likes this.
  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    All visas are by bilateral agreements between countries, except maybe for the EU and other "treaty" countries (e.g., Schengen), which are treated as a block. The US may be the only country that requires a visa of most people even of those traveling from our closest allies, although the requirements may be quite lax. Therefore, it would not surprise me if this were a "retaliatory" measure by China.However, this is not a new policy. It seems that it was relaxed just ahead of the Beijing Olympics to make traveling to the event less cumbersome for US citizens who went there en masse. And, Chinese visas for other countries that require them are much cheaper than what China charges US citizens...

    The airlines/hotels couldn't care less, as this is not something that they can control. The airlines just enforce the requirement that you have a valid visa for destinations that require it since they would be liable if they get you there without the right documents. The chances that China would actually deny a visa to someone with legit docs are slim to none. My bookings are always actual bookings, and not placeholders, but I think that once you have a visa, they do not actually check to see what you do other than to make sure that you enter and leave the country by the authorized dates.
     
    uggboy likes this.
  9. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    No, China tightened their visa regulations shortly before the Olympics. I was scheduled to fly there in Spring 2008 and discovered the day before I had to apply for my visa (it couldn't be done earlier as I had needed my passport for other travel) that the rules had changed and copies of plane tickets (no problem, mine were booked and ticketed long before this point) and hotel confirmations were required. The latter was a shock as local business colleagues who had invited me were making my hotel reservations for me, but I had no way of getting written confirmations immediately. My wonderful travel suggested just making dummy bookings for my cities and dates at major chain hotels that could be confirmed instantly and cancelled easily. This worked fine. Then the Chengdu earthquake happened and some of my itinerary had to be changed when I arrived in China.

    When I was there, the foreign press reported many cases of entertainers who had been working in China for several years suddenly being told to leave and not return until after the Olympics. Independent business persons, free lancers (including journalists) and consultants faced some of the same problems, in that their visa category suddenly became incredibly hard to obtain and renew.

    Visas might well have been made easier for Olympic participants, their relatives and friends/guests, officials, support staff, sports media, etc., but getting permission to enter and remain in China was made much more difficult for many others.
     
    sobore and uggboy like this.
  10. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    On the contrary, after trying the hardball approach that you just described, they decided to loosen the policy drastically for the Olympics for everyone, precisely because they found out early that it would be a nightmare to enforce it. Your account just reminded me exactly of what happened.

    I remember this clearly because I had meetings in Beijing around that time going back a year or two (I have been to Beijing at least once a year since 2005). About 12 months before the Olympics, they tried to tighten the requirements quite a bit, making each prospective conference attendee at the time begin to scramble to get themselves invited by conference organizers. That must be the time that you just described. It seemed like it was going to be a mini-nightmare but the folks who had organized our meeting (International Society of Neurochemistry) were on top of it and made things flow seamlessly for every single one of us. I went back to Beijing several times after that, and that was the only time that I needed to show extra documents and get an invite to get a visa for China, and it is not difficult to guess what happened: With millions traveling to Beijing from every corner of the world for the Olympics, it would have been impossible for the Chinese consular services to keep up with the enforcement of the extra docs requirement, so they just relaxed the policy drastically, which is why we thought that they had decided to encourage travel to China. It does not look that way; things just took a while to restart after the Olympics. The recent announcement simply reinstated a long-standing policy that they had suspended for the Olympics.
     
    jbcarioca and sobore like this.
  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Just digging in my email at the time, I just found correspondence and documents that now vividly remind how things were for a very brief period of time during the summer of 2008:

     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  12. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,741
    Likes Received:
    5,088
    Status Points:
    4,270
    After the preceding email, I received the invite and explicit form to apply for the visa:

    ISN-GIF.gif

    ISN-2008-B.png

    Multiply my case by millions and it is a mess, so the Chinese government just decided to relax and enjoy the Olympics :)
     
    jbcarioca and sobore like this.

Share This Page