Horizons answers your current questions about China visas and residence permits relating to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Horizons consultants have been advising foreign nationals who are working or residing in China regarding visa and residence permit issues. In particular, many questions have arisen associated with the automatic visa/residence permit extension effective from 27 February and the temporary entry ban of all foreign nationals effective from 28 March. One exception is the so-called “fast-track” entry, which, from 1 May, allows South Korean businesspersons to travel to 10 Chinese regions, including Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin, after going through “minimized” coronavirus health screening and quarantine measures. That said, apart from South Koreans, the restrictions have affected foreign nationals on an individual level and, in a more expanded sense, foreign entities operating in China. Below, we answer a few of the main concerns related to this topic. 

“How do I extend my visa once the two-month extension period is exhausted?”

Before the expiration date of the automatic two-month extension, you may apply for a humanitarian visa at the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau, which permits an additional 30-day stay. It is important to note that the two-month extension valid during the Special Period is applied from the expiry date of your visa. For example, if your visa originally expired on the 3 May, the new expiry date is 3 July.  

“Does the two-month automatic visa extension policy apply to residence permits?”

Currently, in Shanghai, the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau requires foreign nationals to renew residence permits at the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau. In other words, foreigners working in China are required to extend their work permits, of which during the pandemic period, can be done online. 

“I’m currently outside of China, and my resident permit has expired. Once the temporary entry ban is lifted, what type of visa is required to return to China?”

Where the expiry date does not exceed three months, foreign nationals outside of China may apply for a Tourist Visa (L Visa) or Business Visa (M Visa) at the Chinese embassy in their home country. Those working in China with an expired work permit may apply for an extension online and extend their residence permit upon return to China. 

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 talktous@horizons-advisory.com.

Horizons Corporate Advisory helps clients solve complex problems, thrive and be inherently responsible in their business activities worldwide. The countries and regions we operate in include Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Italy, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Macau SAR, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland (French and German-speaking cantons), Turkey, the United Kingdom (England and Wales), the United States of America and Zambia.