China Visa Questions

Discussion in 'Asia' started by Ed Chandler, Apr 9, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    Hey, all

    The wife an I are planning a trip to China this October. (Though it's probably more accurate to say that I'm the one "planning" it.) I've never been to China and, despite reading the "official" instructions, reading the form, and my best Google-fu, I still have some questions about the visa application process. I had no illusions about this being super-easy, but I'd appreciate it if anyone with personal experience could help me out.

    The single-entry "L" visa is only valid for 3 months from the date of issue, so it would appear that you either have to book early and hope for approval or wait until you're approved and hope for flight/hotel availability.

    But wait ...

    The visa application needs either a letter from whomever is "inviting" us (this doesn't apply)
    or a photocopy of our round-trip airline ticket and hotel reservations.

    So, I need to have travel booked before I apply for a visa, ...
    but I have to have a visa approved before I can go, ...

    Thus, it would appear that the only option here is to book the travel, pray, and eat the change/cancellation fees if the visa isn't approved?
     
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  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Most the time Visa are approved... unless you are deemed unworthy or the such. They want your cash.
     
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  3. Ed Chandler
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    Ed Chandler Silver Member

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    Well, ... it's not as though the visa application for the US is exactly cheap either. ;-)

    Good to know. Looks like driving to Chicago and doing the "same day rush" service is still cheaper than having a service do it for me. Any "gotchas" I should be concerned about?
     
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  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Not sure; I went to China a few years ago, but I was already in Asia. (Thailand) And the process was still $150; but it was pretty easy. Like I said they just want the $$$$ hah

    Oh ... the Visa takes up one WHOLE PAGE in the passport... :(
     
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Getting a visa for China is straightforward and it will not be denied unless you have a criminal record or writings which have been critical of the ruling Communist party, which would be the same as a criminal record.

    An expedited visa can be obtained in one day (apply in the morning, pick up in the afternoon), if you live in a city with a PRC Consulate, like NYC. If not, you could send the application within a couple of weeks of your travel and get it back in time, because normal processing takes just 2-3 days. The two requirements you cited above were relaxed just ahead of the Beijing Olympics because attempts to enforce them created great headaches for the Chinese officials at home and abroad. They were reinstated about a year after the Olympics, which also caused confusion for people who got used to the relaxed requirements (there was a discussion about it in here a while back).

    How easy is it to get a visa for China? I wanted a multiple entry visa and had prepared documentation showing that I would have business to attend there on three separate occasions, but when I got to the window, they just took the application form and my passport and just returned everything else without as much as a glance at it. When I picked up the passport, I had a multi-entry visa that was good for a year. I have been getting M entry visa since (thrice now, including one that I got last December that is still good until this coming December).

    I hope that addresses your question but you can plan your trip and when you are done and you have the RT tickets, apply for a visa at least two weeks before departure, or even closer to your travel date, if there is a Consulate of the PRC where you live and can simply walk in and drop off the application. The China visa fee for US citizens is much higher than for most other countries -- for "reciprocity", I was told :D.
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Note that you cannot send your visa application directly to the consulate either by mail or FedEx, etc. You must either go in person or use a visa agency, which means additional fees, although the good ones know the rules and practices and will check your application before submitting it.
     
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  7. jaw_24
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    jaw_24 Silver Member

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    Always go for the multiple entry 1 year visa - from what I've read it doesn't impact your acceptance and gives you flexibility to either go back or go in and out to Hong Kong or surrounding countries.

    As for documentation, once you book your flight, just book some dummy hotel reservations for the application. They won't personally check that you are staying in those locations.
     
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  8. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    We just came back from Shanghai and the visa's were no problem at all. I took the passports in person to the Los Angeles office and they were done very quickly. We took the multi entry as it seemed to make the most sense.
     
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  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Frankly, I feel that the capitalistic instincts among the ruling Communist class in China are simply too strong. They do not care who wishes to spend money in China, since they have little fear for violent crimes, whose rate is so extremely low because they have little tolerance for them that they feel no need to clamp down on revenue-generating tourists. China visa denials are thus rare. You wanna visit more than once? No, problem, have a multi-entry visa!
     
  10. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    As above, get the multiple entry one for 1 yr... never had a problem getting them. Make sure there are enough empty pages empty in your passport as the Visa takes up a whole page and they will stamp on the opposite page of the Visa.

    Going to the consulate in person is a PITA since you either have to pay for express service and either wait or come back later or avoid the express service and come back a week later. Either way, there will be waiting in your future.
     
  11. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    It was a few years ago, but we used Zierer Visa Services. www.zvs.com . They were very professional, easy to and deal with and while it did cost us extra in their fees, it was painless!
     
  12. Street Smart Traveler

    Street Smart Traveler Member

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    I went to a travel agency in Chinatown to buy my plane ticket to Shanghai and get a China visa. (On a side note, Chinatown travel agencies are good places for tickets because they cater to Chinese going back to visit their families).

    The travel agent included visa processing as as service, since they don't have a China embassy or consulate here in Honolulu. They mailed my passport and paperwork to their branch office in Los Angeles, who delivered it to the consulate. They mailed it back to my travel agency, where I picked it up.

    On a slight tangent, if you ever stop over in Hong Kong, I swear it's like everyone and their mother offers China visa services. Even the most ghetto hostels can do it for you. To be on the safe side, go with the official China Travel Service (government-run). Their branches are located in the main areas of Hong Kong like Central, Wanchai and Tsim Sha Tsui.
     
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  13. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Anyone try the 72 hour visa-free stop-over ?
     

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