Travel visa to China
jckeithNovember 04, 2009, 10:19 PM posted in General Discussion
I will be spending 3-4 weeks on vacation in China next spring, and I would like to know what steps I need to take to get a visa. Any other important info about travelling to China would be appreciated too. I've heard that I need to go to the Chinese Consulate to apply, and that visas are only good for 3 months. Is this correct? I'm a U.S. citizen and resident, by the way. I'll be accompanied by my wife and her parents, all of whom are Chinese citizens and U.S. permanent residents.
bodaweiNovember 05, 2009, 01:15 AM
One thing that I have noticed is that you lucky US citizens get to pay quite a lot more for visas than the rest of us global citizens! I wonder if any poddies know the stated reasons behind this policy? I'd be even more interested in speculation about the real reasons! Maybe it is based on perceived ability to pay?
Yes, currently 3 month tourist visas are available - the rules do change from time to time and even from place to place. You may find that your travel agent will do your visas for you. Personally, I have enjoyed my various trips to Chinese Consulates in Sydney, Hong Kong and Seoul.
pretzellogicNovember 05, 2009, 03:15 AM
jckeith, just to add on what's been said, I would still suggest you go to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate website to see the specific visa requirements and download the form. I used to live in New Hampshire, so we had to go to the consulate in New York.
You didn't say where you and your broader family lived, but the consulate staff will tell you that you have to get your visa from the embassy/consulate nearest you. That means if you live in Chicago, you apply for your visa in Chicago, but if your wife's parents live in Portland Oregon, they have to apply in San Francisco. You can't apply to a place of your convenience; it's all assigned by region.
All this is set up by reciprocal agreements between China and the US. Interestingly, because Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese control, the US gained a consulate, and now the US has to reciprocate by allowing the Chinese to have another one. Apparently that's still under discussion where this new consulate will be.
jckeithNovember 05, 2009, 03:29 AM
The nearest one is in Houston. As luck would have it, I'm going there in a few weeks anyway. My wife and her parents have Chinese passports since they are still Chinese citizens. Interesting info about the new consulate. Thanks for your help!
jamestheronNovember 05, 2009, 04:14 AM
For US citizens, the Chinese visa is $130US for any of the types: three-month single entry, six-month double entry, six-month multiple entry, and twelve-month multiple entry. However, for citizens of other countries, these are $30, $45, $60, and $90.
When they raised this 2-3 years ago, the reason I heard was because a US visa for a Chinese citizen was $130.
For a US visa the US State Department has the following statement on their web site (not specifically referring to China). I'm sure there is similar reasoning on the Chinese side.
Nonimmigrant visa fees are based on "reciprocity," (what another country charges a United States citizen for a similar-type of visa).
Too bad Washington couldn't meet the lower Chinese Visa price. :(
jckeithNovember 04, 2009, 10:39 PM
Thanks for those. I'll definitely go over them. Maybe learning visa-related vocab will allow me to overcome my trepidation of just calling the consulate directly :)
bodaweiNovember 05, 2009, 09:39 AM
Thanks for that information - it makes perfect sense politically! If you are right about all other countries paying the same amount as each other (which I assume you quoted in US dollars), it is likely that this reciprocity is special to the China-United States relationship.
pretzellogicNovember 05, 2009, 11:01 AM
jckeith, FWIW, if you have a Bank of America account in the US, then when you come to China, you can use your BofA ATM card in any of the China Construction Bank ATMs. This will give you ready access to your US account WITHOUT THE TRANSACTION AND INTERNATIONAL BANKING FEES. Pretty sweet, especially when you are making frequent withdrawls.
I do recommend this approach over taking lots of travelers checks, but if you do take travelers checks, anticipate only using them in big cities, and primarily to exchange them for cash at a bank. I've noticed not too many stores/restaurants take travelers' checks.
bodaweiNovember 05, 2009, 11:19 AM
I was surprised to hear someone say the other day that they carry travellers cheques - with banking technology as it is I cannot think of a single point in favour. (There may be, because people keep buying them.)
On using your foreign cards - I guess that the cards of any national US bank (and probably those of the small banks) will work in China - the key is the brand of the system rather than the name of the bank.
Australians usually have cards that work on Plus and Cirrus, and many ATMs in China read these systems. (Brands like Visa and Mastercard do not guarantee access to your money in China!) Compatibility with foreign cards and access to suitable ATMs has improved significantly in the past six or seven years of my experience.
Now I just have to get the system to improve back home in Sydney.
pretzellogicNovember 05, 2009, 11:38 AM
bodawei, I think there's inertia behind buying travelers checks, at least in the US. My first trip to China back in 2004, I bought a few hundred $$ worth, having no experience in China, and leaning on my China-experienced wife, who wanted to buy travelers' checks. But once I got here, I saw there were better ways to do things as you point out, so bye-bye travelers checks.
But the reason I mention the Bank of America/China Construction Bank connection is because of what you mentioned. I also have plenty of Plus, Cirrus system cards as well, but they charge fees for each transaction. Usually based on the issuer's agreement, those fees can be as little as $5 for each time you withdraw money out of the ATM, to $5 plus 3% of the transaction amount. Not a lot, but it adds up if you go to the ATM a lot, especially over a 3-4 week trip.
bodaweiNovember 05, 2009, 02:11 PM
Pretzel, I see what you mean about fees (and about intertia.) We have a deal with our bank too; we don't pay the ATM fee (about $5) but we still pay some % on the exchange rate conversion. We just use our Chinese bank now - no ATM charges within city limits.
tvanNovember 05, 2009, 06:02 AM
Jcikeith, you might ask them about the multiple entry visa while you're at it. It costs the same and, if you have some reason to leave the country (e.g. medical, shopping at HK, etc.), you don't have to repeat the process..
bababardwanNovember 04, 2009, 10:29 PM
There were a couple of lessons on visa's and thus some of the discussions may help:
This one's from March this year:
This older lesson from 2006 may have outta date advice,but as it's UI the vocab there may be more useful to you:
...but yeah,with something like this it'll be great if you get some fresh posts with up to the minute advice.Good luck mate :)