The ordinary visa category consists of 16 visa types – L, F, M, Z, X1, X2, C, J1, J2, G, D, Q1, Q2, S1, S2, and R. Diplomatic and service visas must be obtained through government channels, thus are not covered in this article.
Non-commerce visa – F type
This visa was used for business traveling before M type visa was introduced. However, now it is used for noncommercial purposes. It is usually issued to those, who visit China for scientific, research, academic or cultural exchange purposes. It can be acquired either for one time or double stay visa. Normally, the duration of one stay is from 30 to 60 days.
Business visa – M type
You should apply for this Chinese visa if you want to go to China for trade or commercial activities. Different number of entries can be granted depending on your preferences and eligibility. You can also get it for a period of up to 10 years. Each stay can be up to 60 days long depending on particular Chinese Consulate.
Work visa – Z type
Work visa is acquired by those, who have become employed in China. To get it, you must provide either an employment license or a government-issued working permit. It is issued for a single-entry only. Within 30 days of your entrance, you must apply for a residence permit in a police station. Then you are all set for multiple entries. You can also apply for this Chinese visa if you are commercially active in China.
Study visa – X1/X2 type
A study visa can be granted to those who are admitted by a Chinese college. It has two categories. X1 can be granted to those who will study in China for more than 6 months. If you come for a smaller period of time, then you will be granted an X2 type of Chinese visa. It is issued only with a single-entry allowance. X1 type visa, however, can be issued for multiple entries valid for up to 5 years.
Crew visa – C type
Crew visa type can be acquired by crew members that are utilizing transportation like planes, ships, trains, and motor vehicles. The family members of a crew member can also apply for this travel document. US passport holders can be granted multiple entries for up to 5 years.
Private visa – S1/S2 type
If you are a family member of a person coming to China to study or work, you can acquire this travel document. Other private matters can also be considered for eligibility.
The S1 visa can be acquired for a stay longer than 180 days. It has a single entry allowance and after 30 days of entering China, you must apply for a residency.
The S2 visa is issued for stays shorter than 180 days. You can get it with multiple entry allowance and it is valid for up to 10 years for Canadians and US citizens.
Family visa – Q1/Q2 type
This Chinese visa type is issued to those, who are visiting family members in China as well as to spouses of Chinese citizens. Certain personal purposes like foster care also are eligible for this travel document type.
The Q1 type of travel document can be acquired by family members of Chinese citizens. It can also be acquired by permanent residents of China that intend to stay in China for longer than 180 days. It only has a single entry option and after 30-day period you will have to apply for a residence permit.
The Q2 visa is issued to the same categories of people, only with temporary visit intentions. It can be multiple entry.
Tourist visa – L type
This travel document is granted to those who are visiting China for tourism. You must provide proof of travel like flight tickets and proof of accommodation to acquire it. The duration of your stay can be from 30 to 60 days. You can apply for multiple-entry allowance as well as a single-entry allowance. US passport holders can acquire a multiple-entry document for up to 10 years.
Transit visa – G type
This travel document type is issued to those transiting through mainland China for a short period to another country. Usually, the allowed maximum is 10 days for a single stay. It is valid for three months.
Permanent residency visa – D type
D visa type is issued to those who want to live in China. It doesn’t represent the same power as a Chinese passport. However, it grants you the power to enter and leave freely while staying for undefined amount of time. This visa entitles you to work and study.
Talent visa – R type
R type travel document is issued only for highly skilled people for working in China. You must have the skills that are currently needed in China and are in short supply. Usually, this travel document has multiple entries with validity of up to 10 years.
China has 16 types of ordinary visas available. Overall, China has a visa type for every occasion. All that is left to do is to figure out which one would work best for you and apply for it.