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China Applies Preferential Policies to Port Visas and Residence Permits

  • The 26 Measures issued by the Ministry of Public Security of the PRC allow foreign individuals to apply for multiple-entry M visas valid for three years at the port of entry.

  • The 26 Measures will allow foreign individuals to keep their original passports (after verification) while their applications for residence permits are pending, thus allowing them to handle relevant matters with their passports during that time.

On August 3, 2023, the Ministry of Public Security of the PRC announced 26 measures to provide support to guarantee high-quality development (“26 Measures”), two of which are related to foreign individuals entering China.


Port Visa

Under standard procedures, the Exit-Entry Administration Law allows foreign individuals who need to enter China urgently for humanitarian or other urgent reasons, or are invited to enter China for urgent commercial affairs emergency repair works, to apply for visas at the ports of entry approved by the State Council instead of applying for visas before entering China. Such visas are known as “port visas” or “visas on arrival.” To apply for a business “M” visa at the port, the applicant must either (1) provide an invitation letter from authorized institutions or organizing institutions which has been recorded at port visa granting offices in advance; or (2) provide a schedule of their planned activities in China after entry, an invitation letter stating the emergency reasons for which they require entry, and registration materials (e.g., business license, certificate of formation, etc.). After approval by the port visa granting offices, qualified foreign individuals are issued a one-time visa valid for five days with a maximum stay duration of 30 days.


However, the 26 Measures now apply a preferential policy to foreign individuals who entering China for business negotiations, trade exchanges, installation and maintenance, participation in exhibitions, or investment and entrepreneurship that allows them to apply for multiple-entry M visas that are valid for three years at the port of entry. The required materials are simplified and now require only the invitation letter and supporting documents.


Residence Permit

If the visa held by a foreign individual carries an annotation requiring that a residence permit be obtained after entering China, the foreign individual must apply for a residence permit within 30 days after entering China at the local public security bureau. Before the 26 Measures were issued, when applying for residence permits in China, foreign individuals had to turn over their original passports to the local public security bureau, and the original passports were not returned to them until after the residence permits were approved. The 26 Measures will now allow foreign individuals to keep their original passports (after in-person verification) while their applications for residence permits are in process. These new procedures allow foreign individuals to engage in other relevant matters that require use of their passports during the processing period.


Implications for U.S. Higher Education Institutions

While the 26 Measures may be advantageous to some, it is important to emphasize the uncertainty of obtaining a port visa, with or without preferential treatment. Most personnel at U.S. colleges and universities who plan to travel to China under a business visa should continue to obtain their visas in advance. Only under emergency or other extremely urgent circumstances would it be appropriate to rely on a port visa for travel to China.



China Applies Preferential Policies to Port Visas and Residence Permits
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