I have had several of my friends and other expats in China that have been having issues with their visas or the visa process.  It can be confusing because the rules change all the time… and if you don’t keep up with it… you could end up getting kicked out of China or banned from the country, and even extremely large fines.

I have chosen this time to go over the visa process for those that currently live here and are coming here in the future.  Now, although this is the formal and direct way the process works… Please note.. that some people get special consideration, or some companies can pay some “gift money” to speed up the process, and even some provinces may have different ways to do the visas due to their situation.   So, if the way I describe is not exactly how you did it.. or isn’t the exact process you heard about… please be aware in China there are many ways to do things and… with enough money you can make anything happen.




When you find your job in China there are about three main kind of visas that most people, not married to a local or students, get… A tourist visa  (L), a business visa (F), and a Z visa or permanent resident.  There are others .. but I will be only referring to these three at this time.

A tourist visa, is usually granted to you from your home country.  It can be issues for 1 month  to 3 months max.  With this visa you are not supposed to work, you are supposed to be a tourist.   It can be extended if you apply at the local immigration office within China.  However, it can only be renewed once within China.  After that you must leave the country to get another one.  (Hong Kong,home country etc.)

Next is a business visa, this visa is issued usually to business men or people who will be working in China for a short time.  Usually, it is a three-month visa, that can be renewed twice in mainland China… but afterward you must leave the country and re-enter to get another one.  Sometimes, schools will bring you in on a business visa.   This is for two reasons…. 1) it is easier and cheaper to get and 2) They are taking a chance on you as a teacher. If you come here and you are not a good fit they didn’t waste the time an energy of getting you the Z visa.

Now the Z visa.  The process is extensive and expensive, so usually you want to make sure that your new company pays for it or for half or gives you back the money in someway.  To get a 1 year Z visa, it starts in your home country, you must  get a police background check, in some countries fingerprints, a full medical report, and an invitation letter from your new employer to apply for the visa in your home country. This is a new process that started last year. When I came to China we did not have to do that .. but now with criminals trying to hide in China and for basically Chinese safety it must be done.   Once you have done that and gotten your visa, you can go to China.   However, once you are in China it’s not finished.  You then must have your company apply for the expert certificate, after this is received you must get your proof of residence from the local police station.  Your new company should help you with these documents, since you will need a landlord and the landlord’s ID card to get it.

After these documents are in order, then you must complete the form at the immigration office, and they will also take your photo.  If your office doesn’t have the built-in photo shop, you will have to provide your own photos.  They will process your documents and it usually take about three weeks to get your passport back.  (I have known companies that have connections with the government that have special ways to move it along).  While you are waiting for your passport to return you are unable to leave China, and in some cases you cannot leave your city by train. Train tickets require passport to purchase.   However, the receipt they give you can be used at hotels to rent a room.  When you receive your passport back you should have a Permanent Residence Visa to stay in china that should be for one year.  It is possible to get one for 2 yrs or more.. but it is a lot of hassle and considerably more money.

Please keep in mind… if you come to china on a tourist visa or business visa and you wish to get a Z visa, you will have to return to your home country and get the appropriate documents.  You are no longer able to just go to Hong Kong like before.  You must actually leave China and go home. No, they can not fax or mail you the information.

If you currently have a Z visa, the renewal process is pretty easy.  You have pretty much been grandfathered in … like myself and you just need to get a physical in China, renew your proof of resident, get the new photos, complete the form and play the money.  If you are at the same job as the year before.

If you change jobs, you must get a release letter from that place of employment and they will also have to release your expert certificate; so the new employer can sponsor it.   Sometimes these are difficult to get.  It kind of depends on how you leave your former employer.   One thing in China… never burn your bridges….. you almost always need to cross back over it.

I hope this helps a lot of you that have been questioning the visa process here… it is a little complicated and I have generalized a lot of it.  Everyone seems to have different experiences but what I have told you is the most accurate of how the system works.

For you students…. there are student visas…. and for spouses there is a spouse visa… however, it needs to be renewed also.

If you have any further questions regarding the visa process or some trouble you are having… you can always refer to the Chinese Embassy Website or send me an email directly..I will try to advise you.


until next time…..

I have been totally swamped these days because I have taken on a couple of new projects.  You know I am always trying to expand my mind and educate myself on new experiences.  Well one of the big endeavors I have undertaken is becoming the lead singer of a band.




Yep, they are all Chinese and I am the one little piece of “Brown Rice” in the mix.  Actually, that is our band’s name “Brown Rice”.   How did all of this come into play.  Well, I am one of the owners of a bar here in China.  It is a small bar that has bands, comedy shows, themed parties and other interesting entertainment that we can find.   Most of the time, it is just a laid back place where we can chill.

It caters mostly to foreigners but we do have several Chinese locals that come in out of curiosity or because they like being around foreigners.  So, we were having trouble getting a good foreign band.  Some weren’t very good and some were too good and too expensive to hire.   One of the co-owners suggested we make our own band… and we were all giggling.  She said “Jo you can sing…” and other people started shouting out what instruments they can play…. it all turned into a laugh fest.   The next morning I woke up with a message on my phone that said ” Jo send your playlist…..we have you a band”…..I was like seriously?????

And Here we are!!!

We mostly play Pop and Rock music…but through in some reggae, Jazz and R&B once in a while to mix it up.  I have found singing in a live band is much harder than it looks.  I have sung on stage solo with accompaniment….and I have sung with piano, and even one guitar; but to sing with a guitarist, bass player and a drummer….. is much more complicated.

The band is made up of myself, lead singer; Lee, Bass; Stix on drums; and Grayson on lead guitar.  The sound pretty amazing, however, they have been playing together for years.   I have been singing for years but as a solo act… so therein lies the problem.   I have to blend with them and they have to get use to me….. we are scheduled to start playing at the bar next weekend and every weekend following.  There is a lot of pressure on me… since I am a major recognizable face at the bar.  People are so excited and cant wait to hear us…….(lord help me)…..


The guys are great… they speak little English… and I speak enough Chinese that we can understand each other…. we even had dinner together to get to know each other better.   I know with the right practice and music… we will be amazing.

In all my day, I never thought I would be the lead singer of a band…. but… I never thought I would be living in China either… ..Just proves you never know where life will take you.


until next time…….

Life behind the wall

Find out how life can be for a Black American woman married to a Chinese man behind the Great Wall of China.

Enter your email address to follow this blog

Join 1,405 other followers

March 2013

What You Missed

Borderless News and Views


  • 737,278 hits

The Best of the Best

This site is a member of China Blog Network.
Expat Women - Inspiring Your Success Abroad

Enter your email address to follow this blog

Join 1,405 other followers


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,405 other followers