Applying for a Chinese Visa abroad, March 2014

This topic is so devoid of updated information online it takes hours for anyone to get any remote answers, so I’m just doing this with plenty of tags below to hopefully come up on Google and help some people out.

Being In Vietnam, the most updated information about this seems to be way back in 2012. The Chinese consulate has changed address and not informed anyone aside from one place, their email and phone numbers are dead and its closing time is actually before the one stated, which is already a very narrow window between 8:30am and 11:00am. 

So just using what I know from now – which isn’t to say anything over 5%. I’ll do Vietnam first.

People applying in Ho Chi Minh City. You will need more than you might in Hong Kong or Singapore. There is no trustworthy agency that can help you out that I am aware of and so you will need to go to the consulate. 

Once you arrive you are ok to stay there beyond 11am within the office since there are so many people. I was rejected by 10am but I complained to the guard enough that their address was a lie and was actually a chicken restaurant around the corner that he let me in. Of course, not before telling me to park my bike in a place I wasn’t allowed to park. Eventually I got in and the man inside told me there are too many people and asked me to leave.I complained a bit more and I was in. Thankfully someone else just decided to leave and left their ticket which I took and got a sneaky way through the huge crowd and was served in about 10-15 minutes, but expect a much longer wait.

The important information is this, however. Unlike Hong Kong, you WILL need:

  • Airport booking confirmation, entry and exit (whether you like it or not, I’m afraid. If you wanted to leave by land or boat, well…)
  • Hotel reservation or Invitation from, well, see below
  • Bank statement of the last 6 months proving you have enough funds (this is mostly for extensions in China but be safe by having around $100 a day’s worth of money in your account)
  • 2 passport photos. One should be enough but be safe. (they will not take it for you like in other locations)
  • photocopy of passport pages
  • The 4-page form filled in exactly and completely. If you don’t have an answer for a part, say, emergency contact, you’ll have to make it up or they’ll say go home.

The invitation letter, I was told inside must be from a chinese organisation or government person, or some other form of official. When I said my friend, I was flapped at and said it doesn’t count. I argued and the guy left me alone and I never got far enough into the process to find out whether or not such is sufficient. However, What I had – an email invitation – was not enough anyway. I saw multiple official examples online which used ‘my friend’ in their invitations so it should be fine. It would be moronic if it wasn’t, it’s a TOURIST… visa. But Vietnam rarely makes a lot of sense.

In your invitation from whoever – family, friend, work – they will need to write

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Passport Number
  • Gender
  • Job
  • Reason for visiting
  • City of visitation
  • Entry and exit dates
  • Type of visa requested
  • How you will support yourself financially
  • The relationship between the two of you
  • Address of where you will stay
  • They will need to provide their own address, proof of residence via copies of their passport pages inc. photo (or other Chinese ID)
  • They need to print it, SIGN it, scan or send a photo for you to re-print and hand in with the other absurd amount of documentation.

EXAMPLE LETTER:

I, Xiao Xiao, invite my friend, Richard Smith, male, born on December 1, 1980, to visit me in China. The
purpose of the visit is for a friendly reunion. Richard Smith and I met while I was a student in the U.S.
Richard will be arriving in China on July 1st, 2012 and will depart on July 5th, 2012. Richard will visit cities
of Beijing and Shanghai. Richard is responsible for the expense he will incur during the trip.
My home address is 12345 #1 street, Beijing, China 67890 and my telephone number in China is 123-
456-7890.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely,

This information is required for China no matter where you are coming from if you do not have a hotel reservation.

Despite the form offering several months of stay, the new Chinese Visa rules everyone is so unaware of is that 90 day visas are no longer an option for China. You may get a 30 day double visa or variants of this which allow 30 days in China, but you have to leave and return before fulfilling a further 30 days. This actually means you can go to Hong Kong for 1 or 2 hours and fly back. Why? Who knows.

The part I am about to confirm for myself is the problem of having visited China before in the last 12 months. If so, you may come across problems. If you go to Hong Kong for your Visa, you may only get a 14-day visa. If you have done a Visa run from China to HK a few times (perhaps 3) you are likely to be rejected completely, as evidence shows with my friend who had to return to America due to trying that trick too many times.

If you are going to Singapore for the Visa, the maximum stay is 30 days no matter what. Websites say different but in more detailed questioning via email, these are not up to date, or only apply to actual residents of Singapore. The Chinese rules changed as recently as March 6th which is how I’ve been caught so off guard by this, today being 21st March.

Hong Kong is still the best bet, but you might want to go Singapore if you already attempted Hong Kong in 12 months, for variation on the passport and a lower risk of a short 14 day visa. Singapore is expensive, too, but more open to things like couchsurfing which would mean free accommodation while you wait. HK people live in incredibly crowded locations so it might set you back.

Hong Kong, however, has a faster visa system. You can apply for a visa at the airport (for a slightly higher price I think) in the morning of Monday and get it back on the morning of Tuesday as a rush service. There MAY be places in Singapore the same, but many take no less than 3 working days.

Anyway, I still have yet to succeed in entering, having been rejected with my lack of air ticket confirmation and detailed invite, but your family or friend can actually fill in a tourist visa invite sheet found online so you don’t have to worry about structure or formalities. 

As for the ticket. This is my main issue because with such a high chance of things going wrong, it’s ludicrous to purchase a several hundred dollar ticket only to end up missing it from stupid visa rejections and issues. Of all the people I saw leave the building, none of them left with a smile and most were on the phone looking worried as they left. There is an absurdly high failure rate with the documents. It just isn’t clear enough online where and when rules have changed. People don’t always have the hours to spare to slog away on Google getting it right. I don’t think you need the airline tickets in Hong Kong but I was there a year ago, so again, things may have changed for the worse. Definitely not for the better.

That is basically everything I know. There is a lot more, and I am full of questions but this should suffice for now.

 

Oh, and the prices vary but in HK I believe it’s cheaper to leave the airport. Either way if you do it in the morning, you get it back in the morning. If you do it in the afternoon, you get it back in the afternoon.

—————
The following is more related to getting a new passport and not really relevant. 

The only other shit I’ve had to go through are rule changes in the UK which mean I cannot renew my passport in HK anymore, and must send it back to England. This will take a minimum of 5 weeks. There is no. way. around this. There is no speedy service for extra charge and there is no document you can use replacing it unless for emergencies. Any businessmen out there who travel a lot to China are essentially fucked, I’m afraid. This has been a major concern for Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong since 2011 when these rules were announced, and further enforced in 2014, but of course, UK wants to save money. This also explains how a new passport now costs 175 pounds compared to 150 a few years ago and under 100 a few years before then.  

There is an emergency document for those whose family or friend has died but you they’ll be damned if they let you off without paying a nice hefty sum for it.

For me, I have 2 pages left. Most will require a minimum of two pages, understandably. One for the sticket, one for the stamps. This wasn’t an issue 3 weeks ago, because I could go to China, apply for a new passport and then I had 3 full months to await its return to Shanghai. Not anymore. Now I only have a 1 month window, and since it takes 5 weeks, I don’t have enough physical time to get the process done. 

The Shanghai consulate responded to an email and said the ETD (Emergency travel document) can be given to those who do not have their passport and are in need of travel, but they did not specify what constitutes as emergency (such as visa running out like mine, or extremes like family death), nor did they reveal what can be done about visas being attached to this document. This means I am unsure whether or not I can attach a working visa on the ETD allowing me more time to await my passport, nor an ability to leave after the first month and return after visiting HK on a double-entry visa. I simply do not know and will have to cross my fingers and see what happens as I go along with it. I have booked an appointment well in advance, a week on Friday with the consulate to discuss matters, but I’ll probably get kicked out for having such a niche scenario.

Of course, this also wouldn’t have been a problem if the UK didn’t want to save a few quid by setting their visa process back to the 1970’s. Who knew putting a little security device with some pieces of paper could take over a month, eh?

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2 thoughts on “Applying for a Chinese Visa abroad, March 2014

  1. I’m trying to get the China tourist Visa in Hanoi now (May 2014). The agencies which used to sort it all for a fee are no longer available. You must go to the embassy in person. They ask for a lot of information, insurance, bookings etc. I have heard this is not all necessary, but I don’t yet know, if they will give the Visa as I don’t have outward flights.

    • You don’t need an outward flight for a tourist visa but I’m pretty sure China just doesn’t want tourists now. It’s getting harder and harder. Three month Visa has gone to One Month, but I also found that I can extend the visa for a month without leaving the country so really it’s a 2 month visa.

      Now I’m working on a Work Z-visa so this is about to be another journey all of its own… It’ll involve a lot of hair loss, I’m sure

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