China Visa update: China opens borders to select foreign nationals from 36 European countries

Effective from 12 August 2020, the People’s Republic of China in cooperation with select European countries have jointly adopted a policy for foreign nationals to return to work in China (“Policy”). The change was announced via the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Denmark on 10 August under the heading Visa Facilitation for Some Foreign Nationals with Valid Chinese Residence Permits.

From 28 March 2020, foreign nationals holding valid visas and residence permits were temporarily forbidden to enter China in the face of COVID-19. Fast-track channels would be later be introduced permitting select foreign nationals appointed as legal business representatives, directors, chairmen and at the general manager level to apply for special entry. Such “fast track channel” entry required an employee’s company to obtain an invitation letter (“PU”) from the local China foreign affairs bureau that would, in turn, allow them to apply for an entry visa from the local Chinese embassy or consulate in the specified countries.

The adoption of the Policy permits qualifying foreign nationals with valid residence permits (including work permits permit for family reunification and personal matters) from the list of countries below to apply directly for a China visa from the Chinese embassy or consulate in those countries.

Among the 36 European countries include Albania, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Belgium, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Given the latter, the PU required for foreign nationals wishing to return to China is no longer applicable to Europeans holding valid residence permits whose expiry date is not later than 28 March, the time of the border closure. For residence permits expiring after 28 March, the PU letter is required.

Visa applications can be made at the local Chinese embassy/consulate. The visa is normally valid for 90-120 days from the date of issue. Given that, we recommend booking your flight in advance to avoid visa expiration. Correspondingly, nucleic acid tests before and after arrival in China, as well as a 14-day quarantine after entry, remain mandatory.

To find out if you or one of your China dispatched employees is eligible to return to China, please contact one of our crisis management leads below by calling or emailing them directly. 

APAC Region
Ms LI Hua Jing
Mobile: +86 13166299232

EMEA Region
Ms Lucia NETTI
Landline: +39 011 19711641 Mobile: +39 391 1283498

Mobile: +1 917 945 8511