China enhances foreign entry and stay policies

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During a policy briefing in Beijing on March 20, the National Immigration Administration answered questions from reporters regarding initiatives aimed at facilitating the entry and residency of foreigners in China for work, study, investment, and entrepreneurship, as well as streamlined visa procedures for foreign business professionals and their families.

Since 2023, the administration has continuously refined policies and measures concerning the arrival of foreign individuals in China, resulting in several noteworthy developments:

1. Entry and exit policy

(1) Five-year multiple-entry visas for foreign business people

Foreign nationals engaged in trade cooperation, investment, entrepreneurship, and other business activities in China, with legitimate reasons for multiple entries, may now obtain multiple-entry visas valid for five years.

These visas can be extended, renewed, or reissued at convenient locations.

Following the implementation of these policies, the number of visa applications processed in China has seen a 150 percent year-on-year increase.

(2) Two-year visas for foreign executives and technicians

Foreign executives and technicians of foreign-invested enterprises may obtain visas valid for two years, and their accompanying spouses and minor children can apply for visas with the same period of validity. Relevant extensions or reissue procedures are also available.

(3) Port visa services expansion

Since 2023, the reinstatement and expansion of port visa services to additional entry points have enabled foreign nationals holding ordinary passports to obtain port visas for urgent business cooperation, visits, investments, entrepreneurial ventures, tourism, or sightseeing purposes in China.

To date, over 950,000 applications have been successfully processed, restoring the issuance volume to its pre-pandemic level.

(4) Visa-free transit

China has implemented 72/144-hour visa-free transit policies for nationals from 54 countries at 31 ports across 18 province-level regions.

Since January 2013, more than 500,000 foreigners traveled through China under the visa-free transit policy.

(5) Multilingual services

The National Immigration Administration has established multi-language government websites and new media platforms to publish policies regarding entry and exit policies for foreigners, as well as visa and document application procedures.

A 24-hour global hotline service 12367 has been launched, receiving more than 7 million consultations since 2021, with a satisfaction rate of 97 percent.

2. Stay policy

(1) Five-year residence permits

Foreign nationals employed in China who have obtained a work-type residence permit (one year or more) for two consecutive terms, along with foreign managerial, professional technical personnel, and members of research and innovation teams working in prominent enterprises and research institutions may be granted five-year residence permits.

Those meeting relevant conditions may also be approved for permanent residency in China.

(2) No need to reapply for residence permits

Foreign management and professional technical personnel permitted to work in China are not required to reapply for residence permits when transferring work positions across regions within their affiliated enterprises or institutions, or pursuing academic degrees at domestic institutions of higher learning.

(3) Passport convenience

Foreign nationals applying for residence documents in China due to investment, entrepreneurship, work, or study purposes may be exempted from depositing their passports at the exit-entry administrations of the public security bureaus. Instead, after on-site inspection and verification they can hold onto their passports and later bring them to collect their residence documents at the agreed time.

(4) Paperless procedures

When processing visa applications, foreigners will not be asked to provide paper documents when the National Immigration Administration has access to the relevant information through inter-departmental information sharing, such as individual accommodation registration records and the business license of the inviting (employing) enterprise.

(5) Online services

Through functions such as the Mobile Office and Online Office on the immigration management government service platform, foreigners may make online appointments, check progress, and inquire about visas and other documents.

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