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15 July 2015

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What’s the difference between the new visa law and the older one?

FAQ: China’s New Visa Law (Updated Nov. 30)

China is overhauling its immigration law regime. A new Exit-Entry Administration Law (EEAL), enacted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, became effective July 1. New State Council regulations became effective September


1.The  law and regulations cover, among other things, visas, entry, and exit;  stay, residence, and permanent residence; and investigation, penalties, and deportation.

The new immigration law regime is a work in progress. Further rules and guidance are expected from the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and Ministry of Education. Local governments are expected to revise their rules as well. For example, the Beijing Public Security Bureau published provisional Procedures of Visa/Stay Permit/Residence Permit Application for Foreign Citizens on September 5.


Our law firm is closely monitoring related developments and will update this FAQ periodically. Feel free to ask questions or add your thoughts in the comments section.


1. Visas:


Under the new law, PRC embassies, consulates, and other visa-issuing agencies outside of Mainland China (e.g., Chinese Visa Application Service Centers) are responsible for issuing visas (签证). (EEAL, art. 4). In narrow circumstances (e.g., emergencies) the public security bureau (PSB) at a port of entry (e.g., airport) can issue a single-entry visa valid for not more than 30 days (EEAL, art. 20).


Also, the exit-entry office of the public security bureau (PSB) can issue visas to extend one’s stay (EEAL, art. 29; State Council regs, art. 12) or change the purpose of stay (State Council regs, art. 10) in Mainland China.

Residence Permits: J1, Q1, S1, X1, and Z visas are issued to individuals intending to enter China for purposes of taking up residence. These visas are valid for a single entry to China. Within 30 days of entry, these individuals must apply to a PSB exit-entry office for a residence permit (居留证件). (EEAL, art. 30; State Council regs, art. 9). Once issued, a residence permit can be used to enter China instead of a visa. (EEAL, art. 22).


Stay Certificates: Some categories of foreign nationals entering China may be granted stay certificates (停留证件) instead of visas or residence permits. For example:


Foreign nationals whose governments have reciprocal visa waiver agreements with China (e.g., tourists from Singapore, Brunei, and Japan)

Persons transiting through Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, or Dalian within 72 hours.
Persons who renounce PRC nationality.

Persons whose residence permits have been cancelled who wish to remain in China for up to 30 additional days as a "grace period" to travel wrap up their affairs in China.

Persons whose visas or residence permits are cancelled or confiscated and who are ordered to depart the country by a specified date will be given a stay certificate valid until that date. (EEAL, art. 33).