Interpretation: Three Categories of Foreign Nationals Allowed Entering China from September 28
Effective from 0:00, September 28, 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion purposes are allowed to enter China, according to an announcement jointly made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration (NIA) on September 23.
So, what is a residence permit and how is it different from a visa? Who are the foreign nationals holding the three categories of residence permits mentioned above?
1. What is a visa, or a residence permit?
A visa is an official entry permission document issued by authorized agencies of a sovereign state to foreign nationals. After being checked and approved by port immigration administration authorities, foreign nationals can legally enter the country with valid passports and visas.
Chinese visas have a clear mark of "VISA" as shown below.
Samples of different versions that are still in use
(II) Residence Permit
Foreigner's Residence Permit of the People's Republic of China is the permit document for legal residence that foreign nationals shall apply for with the exit and entry authority of China's public security organs after entering China with related visas. Holders of valid residence permits may enter and exit without applying for a visa.
"FOREIGNER'S RESIDENCE PERMIT" is marked on the top of the residence permit, and "PURPOSE FOR RESIDENCE" represents the category of a residence permit.
Currently, there are five categories of residence permits in China:
Work-type residence permits
International student residence permits
Foreign journalist residence permits
Family reunion residence permits
Private business residence permits
Among them, residence permits with "work", "private business" or "reunion" marked in "PURPOSE FOR RESIDENCE" are the three categories of residence permits mentioned in the announcement on September 23.
In the above sample of the residence permit, "PURPOSE FOR RESIDENCE" is for "study".
2. Who Are the Holders of the "Three Categories of Residence Permits"?
Based on Chinese laws and regulations, the recipients of the three categories of permits are as follows:
Work-type residence permits: Issued to those working in China.
Private business residence permits: Issued to spouses, parents, children under the age of 18 or parents-in-law of foreign nationals residing in China for work, study or other purposes who apply for long-term visit to China, as well as to those who need to reside in China for other private issues.
Family reunion residence permits: Issued to family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with permanent residence status in China who need to reside in China for family reunion, and to those who need to reside in China for fosterage or other purposes.
Samples of latest versions of the "three categories of residence permits"
It should be added that the issuing authority of the old-version residence permits issued before June 1, 2019 is the "Exit and Entry Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security". After that, the issuing authority will be the "National Immigration Administration of the People's Republic of China" due to institutional reform, but the old-version residence permits within the validity period remain effective.
3. Attention Required on Following Issues Before Entering China
According to the announcement on September 23, foreign nationals to enter China should note the following:
Starting 0:00, September 28, 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, private issues and reunion purposes are allowed to enter China.
If the three categories of residence permits held by foreign nationals expired after 0:00, March 28, 2020, the holders may apply for relevant visas by presenting the expired residence permits and relevant materials to the Chinese embassies or consulates on the condition that the purpose of the holders' visit to China remains unchanged.
Holders of a visa alone (issued before 0:00, March 26, 2020), or of a valid residence permits for purposes other than work, private issues or reunion are excluded from the adjustment announced on September 23.
Foreign nationals permitted to enter China as mentioned above must strictly abide by the China's regulations on epidemic prevention and control.
Notice: This English version is only for reference. To learn more, please refer to the authoritative Chinese version.