China Resumes Issuance of Tourist Visas as of March 15
Updated: May 12
On March 15, 2023, China resumed the issuance of tourist and medical visas.
China had previously resumed issuance of student and business visas on January 8, 2023, so with this latest announcement visa operations have returned to a pre-COVID state.
On March 14, 2023, China’s Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) posted a Bulletin via its WeChat account stating that all Chinese embassies and port visa authorities would resume the review and issuance of all types of visas and port visas. In other words, operations related to all types of visas—including those for tourism and medical treatment—will be resumed as of March 15, 2023. On the same day, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced that all foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020 will now be allowed to enter China. China will also resume the following visa-free policies: Hainan 30-Day Visa Free for 59 Countries, Shanghai 15-Day Visa-Free Travel for Cruise Groups, 144-hour visa-free entry to Guangdong for foreigners’ group from Hong Kong and Macao SARs, and 6-Day Visa-Free Entry to Guilin for ASEAN Tour Groups. (For specific application requirements related to each type of visa, please refer to the notices posted on the consulate websites.)
The Chinese government’s announcements reverse COVID-era policies that had suspended most types of visas. Pursuant to the Announcement on the Temporary Suspension of Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Visas or Residence Permits and the Announcement on Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Residence Permits of Three Categories (issued by the MFA and NIA on March 26, 2020 and September 23, 2020, respectively), foreigners with visas obtained prior to March 28, 2020 until now have not been allowed to enter China except in very limited circumstances and were required to apply for new visas.
China had already resumed applications for the extension, renewal and re-issuance of ordinary (business and student) visas via an NIA Notice on January 8, 2023. See here for our summary of that notice.
While U.S. colleges and universities are more likely to need student, work and business visas for their collaborations with Chinese partners (as opposed to the tourist and medical visas discussed here), the return to comprehensive visa operations is a positive sign that the Chinese government is steadily moving back to its normal, pre-COVID posture.