Breaking: China relaxes work & family visa policies to pre-COVID, in some countries
U.S., UK, India, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Singapore, Norway, Austria, S Korea, Canada, Ireland, Indonesia, Sweden, Malaysia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Czech. Also HK.
Let me emphasize again this is a personal newsletter, I’m doing this on my own initiative, and everything in this post is based on open-sourced information available online.
China basically closed its borders to foreigners in early 2020 due to COVID-19, and it’s been almost two years.
It appears to me that many Chinese embassies published relaxed visa requirements in recent days but so far no major Western media has picked this up.
Given that travel restriction has remained for so long, so many people have been stranded and voiced their frustrations, and subscribers to Pekingnology probably have a strong interest if not stake in this matter, I think it’s worth mentioning - it’s not just about business, but deeply personal for many.
I’m in no way a visa expert so please double-check all the details and technicalities!
In that spirit, I’ll not go into details but the general idea seems to be, in the words of the Chinese embassy in Norway, which in my research has the best summary:
Invitation Letter (PU) will NOT be needed for applicants who are to China for work. Invitation Letter (PU) will also NOT be needed for family members of those who are needed in necessary resumption of work and production in China. Applicants applicable can apply according to pre-Covid policies for visa category of Z and S.
Visas will be issued to more applicants with humanitarian needs. People applicable include family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence permit. Purposes of visit applicable include family reunion, attending funerals or visiting family members with serious illness. Applicants applicable can apply according to pre-Covid policies for visa category of Q.
A summary from the Chinese embassy in Austria
Starting from 11 June, 2022, the Chinese Embassy in Austria will make following adjustments on visa application requirements:
1. Those who intend to work in China and plan to apply for the Z-Visa only need to have an effective “Notification Letter of Foreigner's Work Permit” or the original “Foreigner's Work Permit”. Invitation letter issued by the central and state organs, central enterprises, foreign affairs and commercial departments of provincial governments, and foreign affairs departments of municipal governments would no longer be needed. Their spouse, parents, children under the age of 18 and parents of the spouse could apply for the S-Visa for family reunion and do not need the invitation letter.
2. Those who intend to go to China for commercial and technology activities and plan to apply for the M-Visa or F-Visa still needs to have an invitation letter issued by the central and state organs, central enterprises, foreign affairs and commercial departments of provincial governments, and foreign affairs departments of municipal governments.
3. Foreign family members of Chinese citizens or foreign family members of foreigners with permanent residence status in China (i.e., spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, spouses of children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren) could apply for the Q-Visa for family reunion.
I’ve compiled some notices with links below. It is NOT an exhaustive list, but my list so far includes Norway, Austria, the U.S., UK, India, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Ireland, Indonesia, Sweden, Malaysia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Poland. The relaxation also works with foreigners in Hong Kong.
Some, or shall I say, embassies in more countries have yet to publish similar notices.
The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong (English)
Chinese embassy in the United States (English)
Chinese embassy in the UK (Chinese, posted on June 16, effective immediately)
Chinese embassy in France (Avis sur l'ajustement des politiques de visa pour la Chine, 2022-06-14)
Chinese embassy in Germany (Mitteilung: Änderungen zum Verfahren der Visumbeantragung, 2022-06-10)
Chinese embassy in Spain (Ajustes de los Requisitos para la Solicitud de Visados Chinos, 2022-06-15)
Chinese embassy in Belgium (Chinese)
Chinese embassy in Singapore (English)
Chinese embassy in the Republic of Korea
Chinese embassy in Canada
Chinese embassy in Ireland
Chinese embassy in Indonesia
Again, this is NOT an exhaustive list. Please double-check all the details and technicalities!
Actually, it appears Indian media have first picked up the signals.
China lifts two-year COVID visa ban on Indians; to allow return of stranded professionals, families
SHINE, the digital version of Shanghai Daily, said in a little-noticed report on June 12
China opens door to more foreigners with relaxed visa policy
China began to adjust its visa policy this week, under the global COVID-19 pandemic, to allow more foreigners to travel to China.
Several Chinese diplomatic institutions in foreign countries have notified about the expansion of the scope of visa services to foreign nationals.
According to the new policy, foreign nationals who are family members of Chinese citizens or foreigners with Chinese permanent residence permits can now apply for a Chinese visa for a family reunion or to visit relatives.
The family members refer to spouses, parents, spouse's parents, children, spouses of children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.
Foreign nationals and accompanying family members coming to China for business reopening in all fields can also apply.
At the end of my research, I found Caixin beat me on this, but the title mentions just family visit (and it’s paywalled).
Finally, again, it is NOT an exhaustive list, but my list so far includes Norway, Austria, the U.S., UK, India, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Ireland, Indonesia, Sweden, Malaysia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Poland. The relaxation also works with foreigners in Hong Kong.