Your Chinese visa during the coronavirus epidemic (UPDATED 12 Mar): further measures to fast-track and streamline visas and residence permits; foreign nationals eligible for automatic two-month extension; how to renew Shanghai work and residence permits

Further measures put in place to fast-track and streamline visas and residence permits

Recently, China’s National Immigration Administration announced Ten Measures to Assist the Epidemic Prevention and Control and Serve the Economy and People’s Livelihood (“Measures”). Primarily, the Measures serve to fast-track and streamline visa and residence permits to ensure exit and entry channels support the resumption of work and production. It is important to note, the provisions are effective during the epidemic prevention and control period. Below are the main takeaway points affecting the visas and residence permits of foreigners.

Extension of visas and residence permits
Two-month extensions are granted to foreigners whose visa or residence permits expire during the epidemic prevention and control period. Under the Measures, the 60-day extension shall be automatically applied from the date of expiry; the extension applies to foreigners engaged in innovation, entrepreneurship and scientific research. During the 60 day extension, such foreigners may exit, enter and remain in China with their original visa or residence permits. 

Re-entry for short-term visas
Foreigners on short-term visas may apply for re-entry where the number of entries has been exceeded. Specifically, in instances where visa-holder exits China to participate business trade, scientific research and academic activities for a short period time and returns to China, the visa holder can apply for a re-entry visa prior to departure with the exit and entry authorities.

Visa applications via entry ports
Foreign investors, entrepreneurs and traders with urgent reasons to enter into China may apply for an entry visa at entry ports. Applicants are required to submit an invitation letter from the related institution. After entry, the exit and entry administration authorities shall, in a timely manner, handle visa, stay permits and residence permits for such foreigners in accordance with the law.

24-hour fast-track service for foreigners involved in epidemic prevention and control
Foreigners involved in epidemic prevention and control are granted 24-hour fast-track application service. In this instance, the specific scope of epidemic prevention and control includes medical aid, drug research and development, material supply and academic exchange.

Online application for visas and residence permits
Foreigns may submit applications for visas and residence permits online or by post.

Published 1 March

In the continued effort to ease tensions during the coronavirus, the NIA provides automatic visa extensions for foreigners in China

According to China news source CCTV+, under the headline “Foreign nationals have automatic visa extension as fight against COVID-19 continues in China“, any foreign national in China whose visa is near expiry can have their stay period automatically extended by two months in light of the coronavirus epidemic. The announcement was made by the National Immigration Administration(NIA) on Sunday. 

According to Liu Haitao, head of border inspection management division of the NIA, foreign nationals do not need to go through any procedures for the extension.

“During the epidemic control period, foreign nationals who find their visas almost expire will have their stay period automatically extended by two months,” says Liu. “Within this period, they do not have to go through procedures for the extension. They can still stay in or exit China legitimately.”

To reduce people’s mobility and cut the risk of cross-infection, the NIA also provides online services, says Liu.

“Foreign nationals in China can enjoy online application and visa delivery services just like Chinese nationals. They can also inquire about any changes of exit and entry policies on the official website of the NIA.

Published 27 February

Renewing Shanghai work permits and residence permits during the coronavirus epidemic

During the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, a primary concern for foreigners in China is renewing work permits and residence permits. Ordinarily, renewals of both permits should be conducted a minimum of 30 calendar days prior to their expiry date. However, during this extraordinary circumstance, there may be some confusion for China a-base foreigners given mandated quarantine periods and return-to-work delays. To help clarify matters, we offer some answers to frequently asked questions regarding exit-entry concerns in Shanghai. 

During the epidemic, can I renew my work permit and residence permit?

For the most part, yes. On 1 February 2020, the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission (SMSTC) promulgated the Notice of Implementing “No Physical Contact” Approval Process for the Internet Matters Related to Foreigners’ Work Permits in China (“Notice”). The Notice temporarily adjusts the application, renewal and cancellation procedures for Type B and Type C permits, in that companies may utilise a “commitment system” to proceed formalities entirely online and hold that documents previously required and to be submitted in person have been temporarily abandoned. For Type A work permits, the procedures related to application, renewal and cancellation remain unchanged. 

Currently, the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau (“EEAB”) for residence permits renewals remains in full service. On 18 February 2020, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau issued Six Measures to Strengthen the Management of Foreign Immigration during the Epidemic (“Measures”). The Measures offer “green channels” (online fast-track service) for foreigners affected by the epidemic and in urgent need of visa services; such foreigners may access instant services for visa application and issuance. “Green channels” are additionally available to institutions with a high number of foreigners such as universities and business enterprises. The EEAB will provide requisite support according to the situation demands. 

I was unable to renew my residence permit due to the epidemic, and now I have overstayed my visa — what can I do?

Relax. Depending on your situation, the EEAB is likey to go light on you, perhaps without any consequence at all. Under the Measures, foreigners unable to leave the country in time and who have overstayed their visa or residence permit due to the epidemic prevention and control programme shall be subject to reduced or waived overdue residence penalties in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. The EEAB shall determine the penalty according to the circumstances of each case. However, to think that the coronavirus situation allows you to simply ignore your visa expiration date would be a serious mistake. 

For my residence permit, can I obtain the required temporary residency registration online?

Yes. Temporary residency registration can be obtained online through the website (English). Additionally, as conveyed in the Measures, the EEAB has established a foreigner’s hotline — Tel: 28951900, 9am -5pm Mon-Fri — for further concerns related to exit-entry policies during the coronavirus period. 

We can report that the Shanghai municipal government, following the lead of the National government, remains diligent in issuing measures to facilitate swift online immigration, work permit and residence permit applications and help reduce cross-border movements at this difficult time.  

If you have questions or concerns related to entering and exiting China, work visas or residence visas or other related matters, please contact Horizons at +86 21 5356 3400 or

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