China Business

China Business Visas: Just When You Think it Can’t Get any Worse

China visas

“Just when you think you’ve lost everything, you find out you can always lo-o-o-o-ose a little more,”
Bob Dylan, from “Trying to Get to Heaven (Before They Close the Door)”

Financial Times is out with an article entitled, China cuts business visas before the Olympics, [link no longer exists] detailing how Chinese business visas are going to be restricted even further for the next two months:

Several of the main cities hosting the Olympics have said they will stop issuing visas for general business trips until late September, after the games and the Paralympics are over.

International business organisations in China warned yesterday that the new visa rules were likely to have a significant impact on business. “The introduction of such restrictions without warning creates serious problems for companies operating in China,” said the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.

In a statement posted on its website, the Shanghai Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission, which deals with visa applications, said it would not approve the invitation letters needed to secure a business visa until mid-September unless the trip was for “urgent” matters.

Beijing is obviously one city, but the article notes Shanghai is hosting some football matches and Qingdao, Tianjin, Shenyang, and Qinhuangdao round out the list.

My one year multi-entry visa is good until the end of September and though I usually like to wait until the end of summer to go to China, I am getting tempted to go just to say that I did.

13 responses to “China Business Visas: Just When You Think it Can’t Get any Worse”

  1. Just to advise you that I was issued with a 3 month F visa last Friday in Beijing. It was via an agent and it was reasonably expensive.

  2. What I find most bizarre about this entire distasteful epic is that tourist visas – L visas – are readily available for anyone who wants one. I know of several US-based businessmen (yes, men) who – unable to get F visas – have applied for and received 12 month L visas with 60 day stays, no questions asked. And, I know for fact, that one of those businessmen has entered China THREE TIMES on an L in the last 90 days, each time checking off the “business” box on the entry form given to immigration.
    I don’t advise this approach, but – on the other hand – I find it hard to believe that Chinese officials are unaware or disapproving of it. But then we have to ask: why would China basically give a green light to a visa that requires little to no government oversight, and totally halt the one that requires government approval (via letters)?
    In my experience, Chinese officials are always more comfortable with ambiguity. It allows them to deny responsibility more easily. So that might explain it – at least, partly.
    But I’d love to get your thoughts, Dan. I’m really at a loss with the whole thing.

  3. We are a rep office and had trouble a few months back getting a work permit for an additional ex-pat. We were officially told we could only have three ex-pats per rep office. We were also told that the security officer who issues the work permit received ‘instructions’ from BJ that he was not allowed to disclose or discuss but that he had to follow. And we should come back in Sept and there should be no issue then. Hmmm.
    Last year, we had a factory get some shipments held by the exit/entry customs department. Seems that there were too many issues concerning poor quality of Chinese goods and recalls (right around the toy lead paint issue). The local EEIQ offices had been told to stop letting poor quality product out of China. Each local office followed these BJ instructions differently. Some tested product. Some opened product. Heck, one office opened product and called us in to tell us what internal electrical wiring and connections needed to be changed before we could ship!
    Here’s my point. Maybe general instructions were issued to all visa offices. Maybe the officers interpreted and implemented differently. This would account for confusion. Are business visas issued by the same office as tourist visas?

  4. Yokie Kuma,
    Your points about visas I know nothing about. But, as a citizen of the USA I am appalled by the product quality portion of your reply. Saddens me that China is not uniform in enforcing laws, yet, we here in the USA have this very same problem in many areas of industry and commerce relating to the enforcement or interpretation of the law.
    What is most concerning is your attitude about the corrective action taken to rectify your products with international electrical wiring code. Personally, posting about your company’s low ethical standards or lack intellectual knowledge should be an embarrassment to you and your company. You have only added more proverbial fuel to the fire as to why Chinese products can not be trusted. Would like to know what products you produce so that I can make sure your products don’t end up in my possession.
    Extending a large thank you to the exit/entry customs department for withholding the shipment of your product, maybe you learned something from their actions. Looks like they did their job better then you thought they did.

  5. What is most bewildering to me is why they are continuing all the various paranoid security restrictions through the Paralympics, which attract far less attention than most international sporting events. 99% of the foreign journalists covering the Olympics are going to pack up and leave by the end of August.

  6. @Colette: I must apologize for not being clear. Our product currently meets all US wiring codes. The issue was that the customs group was imposing new requirements not based on any recognized safety or electrical standards. They were told to check for poor quality and they were enforcing rules and requirements based upon their individual judgments. There was no conformity or basis of their decisions.
    Again, I paologize for the confusion. I am quite proud of the product my company develops and exports from China. My point was about the lack of consistent direction and actions without basis.

  7. Scrapper:
    The ‘L’ visa thing is pretty bizarre.
    I have been in Beijing for the past five years, the last several on an F visa, due to the difficulty of the organisations I work for getting me a Z visa – I work for those shadowy international underdogs euphemistically known as ‘international law firms’.
    In the second week of July, I applied for an F visa in London, supplying all the correct paperwork, including the Visa Notification Form, issued in Beijing with the official chop, the return flight tickets, and a hotel booking.
    Imagine my surprise (actually I wasn’t surprised in the least) when, on collecting the visa, I noticed it was an L visa. When I queried this, the staff at the visa issuing office said that maybe the form was incorrect – it wasn’t – and anyway, it didn’t matter, because the main thing was I could go back to China.
    Of course, the paperwork I supplied clearly stated I was coming for work reasons, and my passport clearly shows that I have left China four times in the past five years. So the ‘tourist visa for business travellers’ procedure obviously has official sanction.
    When I entered China, I was concerned that I would have problems, but decided that on no account was I going to lie to the immigration officials if asked. I ticked the ‘business’ box on the entry card, and the official held both side by side, looked at them together and let me through.
    Obviously, it seems that F visas have suddenly become impossible, and I have been given a way to come back into China which gets around the rules.
    However, I am also officially an illegal entrant, as working on a tourist visa is clearly prohibited, and I would not even entertain the idea in ‘peacetime’. This means that should the immigration authorities want to, I can be removed automatically. I am exactly where the government likes foreigners to be, outside the law and completely at the mercy of discretion in the application of the law.

  8. 5th paragraph should say:
    When I entered China, I was concerned that I would have problems, but decided that on no account was I going to lie to the immigration officials if asked. I ticked the ‘business’ box on the entry card, and the official held both the entry card and my passport open at the visa page side by side, looked at them together and let me through.

  9. Interesting update:
    It has suddenly become possible for me to get ‘gray area’ work visa – through a company which I won’t actually be working for, which the company I work for will pay a fee to.
    I met this company last week, as they wanted to ask me some questions before applying for a visa on my behalf. The questions were as follows:
    i) What does your work involve? [fair enough]
    ii) What is your attitude to the Olympics? [vetting me to see if I am a potential t3rr0r15t? were they hoping I’d slip up and say I wanted to 60m6 the games?]
    iii) We are holding an event next Saturday, will you come? [classic chinese leverage, I’m in a position where I can’t say no, and they get the foreign faces at the event]
    Some things change, some stay the same…

  10. As the largest and most developed economic market in the world, the United States is the target of various types of immigration and business immigration is definitely one of the most popular. So China should take this advice because business immigration is a great way to relaunch the economy!

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