On March 28, 2020, the Chinese government suspended visas for foreign nationals currently holding Chinese visas or residence permits. They also suspended APEC Business Travel cards and a host of other visa-free policies available in specific cities within China. Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy, and crew visas were not affected. We are happy to report that we are seeing the Chinese consulates starting to issue visas again.
If you’re one of the people currently trying to get to China, here’s what you need to know:
Who Can Get a Visa to China Right Now?
Currently, the China Consulates are issuing Crew (C) visas, Business (M) visas, and Private (S2) visas. Based on our experience submitting visas to the consulate over the last several months, we have observed the following:
- The application process for crew, diplomatic, and courtesy visas is exactly the same as pre-COVID. The only difference is that you need to make an appointment with the consulate to apply in advance. This process varies from consulate to consulate.
- (M) visas and (S2) visas are only being issued to individuals who have a “PU” invite.
What Are “PU” Invites?
- A PU invite is an official invitation letter issued by the China Foreign Affairs Office. The document is in Chinese and has a barcode at the top. Please note that most people are not eligible to receive this type of invite!
- Citizens of the countries listed below, who hold valid residence permits (work permits, reunification residence permits, and private affairs permits) can reapply to the embassies and consulates in their country without a PU invite.
- PU Country List: Albania, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia, Belgium, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, Netherlands, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Romania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovakia Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, and Sri Lanka.
- In our company’s experience, individuals who have been eligible for a PU invite have been limited to:
- Key employees in important trade/economic sectors of a company in China.
- Key employees involved with science and technology activities in a Chinese based company.
- Family members of foreigners who work in China.
- Teachers trying to return to China to work.
- Individuals who have a valid residence visa and are trying to return to China to work.
- Children and family members of individuals working in China.
- We have not seen China Consulates reject any visa applications where the applicant had a PU invite. So if you are able to get a PU invite, it’s very unlikely that your visa application would be rejected once we submit it to the consulate.
What Types of Visas Can You Get With a PU Invite?
So far, we have seen S2, M, and courtesy visas issued in conjunction with a PU invite. We expect that this policy may ease further over the next few months.
What Will the Consulate Fee Be?
For US citizens, the consulate fee is $140 for regular processing and $177 for same-day processing. The China Consulate of Chicago is the only consulate offering same-day service at this time. You will not be charged a consulate fee if you have a valid residence visa included with your current passport.
What is the Visa Process Like?
Until recently, we had 7 China Consulates in the USA. The China Consulate in Houston recently closed, so now we have 6, with Washington DC absorbing the volume of applications from the Houston jurisdiction.
The application process varies from consulate to consulate, as each has opened to the public at varying levels based on COVID-19 numbers and local advisories.
Swift can help you navigate the visa process regardless of the jurisdiction in which you reside. If you would like Swift’s assistance in obtaining a visa, please contact us to get started.
Consulates Requiring Appointments
Many consulates require that you make an appointment to apply for your visa. To make an appointment, you will need to show proof of your valid PU invite. With several China Consulates, it takes a few weeks to secure the appointment. If you hire Swift to obtain your visa, we can manage the appointment system on your behalf.
If you have any questions in regards to getting a China visa with a “PU” Invite during COVID-19, please feel free to contact us. Our team of travel experts would be happy to help!