Moving to China in 2024: types of visas and required documents

Residence permit


Moving to China in 2024: types of visas and required documents

Every year more and more expats dream of moving to China for permanent residence due to its favorable conditions for living, working and recreation. Find out more about the peculiarities of life in the country, the necessary documents for obtaining a visa and the conditions for obtaining Chinese citizenship in 2024

Order a consultation with a migration specialist to avoid unpleasant situations during the move
Order a consultation with a migration specialist to avoid unpleasant situations during the move

China is a rapidly developing high-tech country. Therefore, the number of people wishing to move to China is increasing every year. However, emigrating to China is not an easy task: due to overpopulation, the migration service scrutinizes all foreigners, and it is almost impossible to obtain Chinese citizenship. In addition, you should take into account the high unemployment rate, excessive air pollution, a very strict legal system, and the difficulty of learning the language. 

Ways to immigrate to China

According to the laws of the People's Republic of China, to enter the country, a foreigner must provide the details of a resident guarantor who undertakes to take responsibility for the migrant. There are also alternatives: 
1.Student visa. One of the easiest ways to move for young people (under the age of 33). Many universities in China offer grants to study Chinese language, economics and management. Students who come on a grant are entitled to a monthly stipend, a place in a dormitory, and tuition reimbursement. Tuition at your own expense (excluding living expenses) can range from $2500 to $10,000 per year at public universities, and from $10,000 to $30,000 at private ones;
2. Employment by invitation. The employer acts as a guarantor. To enter the country, a business visa of type Z is issued, which is issued after obtaining a work permit in the PRC. You don't have to be a highly qualified surgeon or programmer to receive an invitation: you can often find requests for nannies, animators, photographers, and artists;
3. Starting your own business. This option allows you to obtain a multiple-entry business visa, and after four years of stable work and timely payment of taxes, a residence permit. The main condition is that the company is obliged to provide jobs for the population;
4. Real estate in China. Having your own apartment gives you the right to obtain a temporary residence visa with the right to work in China and the need to extend the validity of the document. The reason for obtaining a residence permit may be an investment in real estate from USD 1 million;
5.Investment in the economy. Investments can be made in public and private organizations, government bonds and infrastructure development. The minimum contribution for obtaining a residence permit is $500 thousand at the start and further investment for 3 years;
6.Family reunification. Marriage, first-line family ties, birth of a child in the country or in the family of a Chinese citizen allow for a residence permit;
7. Volunteering and services to the state. Preferential categories for obtaining a residence permit include experts with a unique field of activity, scientists, developers of innovative projects, and representatives of artistic professions. 

Features of life in China for expats

Foreigners who decide to live in China face numerous challenges and restrictions that require careful preparation. One of the first problems is the issue of housing. In China, there are special lists of hotels, houses and apartments that are allowed for foreigners to live in. Illegal residence can lead to eviction and heavy fines. In addition, all foreigners must register their place of residence within 24 hours of arrival at the nearest police station.
Knowledge of the Chinese language is another essential requirement for comfortable living in China. Few people speak English, so for full communication it is necessary to know Mandarin Chinese. This will help to avoid many difficulties in everyday life.
Environmental conditions in China can also be a serious obstacle for many foreigners. Locals do not drink tap water, and the use of masks is common practice not only to protect against diseases but also against air pollution. People with weak immune systems or allergies may find it difficult to adapt to such conditions.
Medical care in China is paid for. In the case of emergency care, there is a post-payment system that requires readiness for unforeseen expenses. Therefore, it is worth having insurance or a reserve of funds for medical emergencies.
Mobile communications and the Internet in China are expensive and have certain limitations. For example, active use of a smartphone can cost $20-30 per month with a connection speed of 256 mbps. Some common services, such as Google, may not be available without a VPN.
Your living expenses will largely depend on the region you choose. In large cities like Shanghai or Beijing, costs can be as high as $1500 per month. Living in less expensive regions such as Guangzhou will be much cheaper, although the salaries are lower.
Despite possible drawbacks, life in China can be comfortable and interesting. A high level of economic development, developed infrastructure and low crime rate create favorable conditions for living in this country.

For safe relocation to any country in the world, obtaining citizenship and employment, take the advice of an international lawyer. We help to solve complex and simple issues for your comfort and safety in any part of the world. 

How to obtain a visa to enter China?

Before applying for a visa to China, you need to prepare the relevant documents. These include a completed application form, photographs, a copy of your hotel or airline ticket reservation, and other documents depending on the type of visa. When the documents are collected, you should apply for a visa. This can be done through the consular department of the People's Republic of China or through an authorized agency.
It is important to remember to pay the visa fee before applying. The amount of the fee may vary depending on the type of visa and the country in which you are applying. Some types of visas, such as business or work visas, may require a personal interview at the consulate.
After submitting the application, you need to wait for the result of its consideration. In case of a positive decision, you will need to visit the consulate or agency to obtain a visa, which will be pasted in your passport.

To obtain a visa to China, you need to prepare the following documents:
1) The original passport;
2) Original or scan of the previous or second passport, if any. If you have only one valid passport, you need to provide a certificate from the Federal Security Inspection Service stating that you have only one passport;
3) A copy of all pages of the civil passport;
4. Completed personal data;
5) A digital photo of 3.5 by 4.5 cm on a white background;
6) Certificate from the place of work, a copy of the private entrepreneur's registration or a bank statement confirming the availability of at least $2000;
7) Documents confirming the purpose of the trip (if any).
It is important to prepare all these documents in advance to avoid delays in the visa application process.

Let us consider the most popular types of visas for entering China:
1.Tourist visa (L-visa). This type of visa is intended for those who plan to visit China for tourism, leisure or to meet friends and relatives. As a rule, such visas are granted for a short period of time;
2. Business visa (M-visa). This visa is required for individuals who have business purposes in China, such as negotiations, participation in conferences, etc;
3. Work visa (Z-visa). If you plan to work in China, you will need a work visa. This type of visa requires additional documents such as an invitation letter from a Chinese employer;
Student visa (X-visa). Students who plan to study in China need to obtain an X-visa. To do this, they need to have an acceptance from a Chinese educational institution;
5.Transit visa (G-visa). If you are flying through China to transit to another country, you may need a transit visa. This visa allows you to stay in China for a limited period of time to continue your route.
Choose a visa according to your purpose of travel and plans in China.

How to obtain Chinese citizenship in 2024

China's migration service scrutinizes foreigners due to overpopulation, a strict legal system, high unemployment, and difficulty in learning the language. According to the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, there are two ways to obtain Chinese citizenship: by birth or by naturalization.
Each child automatically receives a Chinese passport in two cases: if one of the parents has Chinese citizenship, regardless of the child's place of birth; or if the child is born in China, provided that both parents are permanent residents of China. In these cases, obtaining a Chinese passport is automatic for the child.

Foreigners and stateless persons may be granted Chinese citizenship through the naturalization procedure in various cases:
1) Permanent residence in China;
2) Having close relatives among Chinese citizens;
3) Direct investment in the local economy for 36+ months;
4) Work experience of at least 4 years in an important position, such as directors, scientists;
5) Significant contributions to the interests and development of China;
6) Other legal grounds.

The process of obtaining Chinese citizenship requires the submission of relevant documents. First, a special form is filled out, to which the originals and copies of the required documents are attached. They can be sent by mail or in person to a branch of the Ministry of Public Security or through consular offices.
Each application is considered individually, and the tax administration may request additional information. The procedure can take more than a year, and the outcome is not guaranteed. China's migration policy is strict and rejections are frequent.
Applications are reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Public Security of China. In Hong Kong, this task is entrusted to the Immigration Department. It should be borne in mind that this is a complex and lengthy process that requires diligence and patience on the part of the applicant.
To successfully obtain Chinese citizenship, it is important to consider several key factors.
First of all, staying in the country must be legal. This may include business activities, official employment, studying in higher education institutions or research.
The second important factor is a stable and legal source of income that ensures a sufficient standard of living for the applicant and his or her family.
It is also important to comply with Chinese law, pay taxes regularly, and have an impeccable criminal record.
The residence of close family members and the presence of relatives among the Chinese can also have a positive impact on the decision to grant citizenship.
Additional factors include permanent residence in China, proficiency in the Chinese language, no criminal record, and a firm intention to reside in China after obtaining citizenship.
Finally, Chinese citizenship is mainly obtained by businessmen, highly specialized professionals and scientists, which indicates the high requirements and competitiveness of this process.

Peculiarities of employment for expats in China

The work culture in China is different from what expats from Western countries may be used to. Long working days, 50 to 60 hours per week, are the standard, and overtime is considered the norm, especially if it contributes to collective success. Collectivism plays an important role in Chinese society, so considering the needs of the group is a priority.
Another important feature is the hierarchical structure. One should be careful in expressing disagreement with management and always follow protocol, especially to those higher up the hierarchical chain. Although it may seem unusual for some expats, understanding these cultural differences helps to avoid conflicts and maintain harmony in the workplace.

The number of migrants living in China

According to official data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 4.7 million foreigners living in China at the end of 2023, of which more than half a million were students who choose China for their education.
Even during the short-term downturn caused by the pandemic, the number of expats in China continues to grow steadily. Among the factors contributing to this are a growing economy, affordable housing and low living costs, and the country's rich cultural and historical heritage.
Most foreigners choosing China for permanent residence come from Asian neighboring countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, a significant number of emigrants also come from Western countries, mainly from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
This trend demonstrates the attractiveness of China as a place to live and develop, as well as the wide range of opportunities the country offers for foreigners in all spheres of life.

Igor Usyk - Head of Legal Department at Visit World

For safe relocation to China, obtaining refugee status and employment, use the advice of an international lawyer.

We help to solve complex and simple issues for your comfort and safety in China.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in China;

Legal advice on immigration to China;

Travel insurance for foreigners in China;

Medical insurance all over the world.

Recommended articles

3 min

Expats Living In China: a detailed guide to moving to China for expats in 2024

Living In China: a detailed guide to moving to China for expats in 2024

China continues to be a popular expat destination in 2024, offering favourable living, working and leisure conditions. Find out more about the reasons why China is so popular among the expat community

11 Feb. 2024

More details

2 min

Travels China extends visa-free regime for 11 European countries: important details

China extends visa-free regime for 11 European countries: important details

To boost tourism and international relations, the Chinese government plans to extend visa-free travel to 11 European countries by the end of 2025. Find out more about which countries tourists can travel to China without a visa

14 May. 2024

More details

2 min

Travels Top 5 best festivals in Europe in summer 2024

Top 5 best festivals in Europe in summer 2024

May is the perfect time to plan a summer vacation. You can spend a great vacation not only on the beach or in museums, but also at festivals that attract tens of thousands of people from all over the world every year. Find out more about the best music festivals in Europe this summer

18 May. 2024

More details

2 min

Travels Health tourism in 2024: the most interesting destinations worth visiting already this summer

Health tourism in 2024: the most interesting destinations worth visiting already this summer

Wellness tourism has gained considerable popularity in recent years. And today, people spend hundreds of billions of dollars on rehabilitation and treatment abroad. Here are the best locations for health tourism that offer the highest quality medical services in 2024

17 May. 2024

More details