With schools still off and businesses remaining closed, life is at somewhat of a standstill across all of China right now. But as the days on the calendar keep ticking by, what should expats do when they need to renew visas and residence permits during China’s coronavirus epidemic?
Renewing your visa during China’s coronavirus outbreak
In theory, the renewal process for all kinds of China visas remains the same, but Exit-Entry Bureaus across the country are implementing special streamlining measures and showing leniency in these unique times.
Foreigners in China looking to renew their work permits will still need a copy of their passport, a new work contract, their existing residence permit and their blue work permit card. The difference now is that some major Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Zhejiang, do not require the documents to be submitted to the Labor Bureau in person. Instead, employers can submit copies online along with a stamped letter declaring that the information is accurate and the documents are genuine. This streamlined form of renewal takes just 3-5 days to process, after which the QR code on your existing work permit will be linked to your updated information. This service can be used right up until the day before your work permit expires.
Those in China on student, tourist or business visas can apply in person at the Exit-Entry Bureau for 30-day extensions. Such extensions have always been available but are apparently particularly easy to obtain at the moment.
Finally, widespread leniency is expected for those whose visas expire during this period of disruption. Penalties will likely be light or scrapped altogether, depending on the circumstances. That said, having the right paperwork in hand is the only way to guarantee you will not face punishment, so do everything you can to get your affairs in order.
Renewing your residence permit during China’s coronavirus outbreak
Exit-Entry Bureaus across China should be open as normal, with the exception of Wuhan, of course. Your residence permit needs to be renewed in person as usual, but you can apply for a one-month extension if you need time to get your affairs in order because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions. Again, authorities have indicated that they will be lenient with those who have not been able to renew in time.
Foreigners whose residence permits expire while abroad can enter China on a different visa, such as a tourist visa, and change to a residence permit once inside the country (as long as they have a valid work permit).
As is typical of China, different advice and procedures can be found across the country, so it’s always best to check the information released by your local authority. For example, Beijing has asked all foreign nationals to hold off submitting visa and residence permit applications in person for non-urgent cases. Those who do have urgent cases are asked to make appointments in advance. In Shenzhen, meanwhile, green channels have been opened for expedited processing for urgent requests. Some cities are also allowing for online temporary residence registration for those returning to China, mitigating the need to go check in at your local police station as usual.
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Very useful article. I've also been wondering how new arrivals in China register at police stations while they're closed. Are foreigners even able to take up new positions in provinces on lockdown? A follow-up article addressing this would be very useful.
Feb 25, 2020 16:23 Report Abuse