The Ultimate Guide to Applying for a Chinese Visa—A Step-By-Step Guide for US Citizens

Do you want to experience the sights and sounds of modern-day China but are unsure of how to begin your Chinese visa application process?

We’ve got you covered!

This comprehensive guide from our experienced visa experts will provide step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a China visa required for US citizens traveling or living in mainland China.

Whether you’re planning an extended holiday, visiting relatives, conducting business, or anything else—this guide is full of helpful information outlining what documents are needed and how long the entire process takes. So get ready for a successful trip that starts with this ultimate Chinese Visa primer.


Chinese Visa Application Requirements [2023]

Tourist Visa (L)

  • Show a round-trip ticket booking record, proof of hotel reservation, or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual.
  • Personal details on the applicant (full name, date of birth, gender,  etc.)
  • You’ll need to provide details of your visit including dates of arrival and departure, places on your itinerary, relationship with the host, source of finances, and more.
  • So, to put it simply; you need to provide the name, contact number, address, official stamp, and the signature of the legal representative or the individual who is inviting.

Business Visa (M)

  • If you need documents from a trade partner in China for commercial activity or an invitation letter from an individual or entity for a trade fair, it should have the same information as the tourist visa.

Noncommercial Visa  (F)

  • If you want a Noncommercial visa, you’ll need an invitation letter from an approved entity or individual in China that includes the details mentioned above.

Student Visa (X)

  • You’ll need to bring an original and photocopy of the admission letter issued by a school or entity in PRC.

Related: Study Abroad China

Note: If you plan on staying for over 6 months with your X1 visa, you’ll need to provide an original photocopy of “Visa Application for Study in China” (Form JW201 or Form JW202).

Work / Employment Visa (Z)

In order to apply for a work or employment visa you will need to bring one of the following permits:

  1. The Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issues Employment Permit for foreigners.
  2. Registration Certificate for a foreign company’s representative office in China, you’ll need to apply with the local industrial and commercial administration.
  3. The Chinese government authorities issue an approval document for cultural affairs commercial performances.
  4. The National Offshore Oil Corporation has issued an “Invitation Letter to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations”.

Family Reunion Visa (G)

  1. An invitation letter issued by a Chinese citizen or foreign citizen holding a Chinese permanent residence permit.
  2. To complete the registration process, a photocopy of either a Chinese ID or foreign passport, as well as a permanent residence permit, will be required.
  3. To apply for a Q1 visa, you will need to provide proof of kinship, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship from the Public Security Bureau, or a notarized certification of kinship. Please include both the original and a copy of the document.

Transit Visa (G)

A confirmed onward air, train, or ship ticket to the destination country or region is a mandatory requirement.

China Visa Fees

Visa fees for China vary greatly based on factors such as nationality, number of entries, country of application, and express service.

For citizens of the United States, the fee typically amounts to $185. Fees range from $30 to $90 for citizens of other countries.

While it is usually paid upon visa collection, some localities require the fee to be paid at the time of application.

Where to extend or renew your China visa?

Typically, once a China visa has been issued, renewing, extending, or switching to a different type is not possible. However, if you require a longer stay, a multiple-entry permit, or a visa of a different category, you may apply within China under specific circumstances.


Applying for a Chinese visa as a US citizen may seem like an intimidating process, but with the proper preparation and research, it can be much less daunting. This ultimate guide to applying for a Chinese Visa has laid out step-by-step exactly what you need to do in order to get a visa approved.