China: Online Visa Application Systems Introduced in Shanghai

New electronic visa-handling system has been introduced for the benefit of Shanghai companies. Renewal procedures are optional, but invitation letter applications are a must to be done via the system.

Online PR News – 15-April-2010 – – Companies based in Shanghai, wishing to hire or invite foreigners, may now apply online for visa renewals and visa invitation letters. In case of visa renewal, the use of the electronic system is optional, while invitation letter applications must be lodged exclusively online.

Each procedure has its own website, but all of the portals make it possible to check the status of the applications after the submission. Despite the technology, however, the efficiency of the new procedure is often poor, as the websites are still in a testing phase and users are likely to encounter problems.

Visa Renewal

Applications for renewal can be lodged at the Exit-Entry Bureau’s official website. The site offers L visa (tourist visa) and F visa (business visa) renewal and one-year residence permit renewal services.

Initial visa applications are generally submitted at the embassy in the home country prior to arrival. L and F visas are valid for 30 days and can be renewed only twice. Before visa expiration first renewal must be arranged in person at the Exit-Entry Bureau. It is only in case the visa is renewed for the second time, that the online application system may optionally be used.

Upon approval of the application form submitted online, the Exit-Entry Bureau provides a personal appointment. On the appointment date the visa is issued within two hours of submitting the required documents.

Online Difficulties

The website, currently only available in Chinese, is often slow to load and the links are occasionally broken. Moreover, many applications submitted this way have been rejected for undisclosed reasons, but later approved at the Exit-Entry Bureau when submitted again in person. Applicants having to re-apply due to initial rejections run the risk of not having the visa renewed before its expiration, and being forced to leave China.

Invitation Letters

Companies based in Shanghai who want to obtain an invitation letter for F visa and Z visa for their foreign visitors must lodge their applications electronically.

There are two online registration systems responsible for issuing these invitation letters, depending on which authority the host company is registered with in Shanghai.

If the company is registered on the Pudong site, applications are to be arranged online for single entry visa invitation letters. After 3-4 days, if approved, an appointment is provided, upon which the invitation letter is issued on the spot. Companies seeking multiple entry visa invitation letters must submit more documents, thus in their case the online procedure cannot be used.

If the company is registered on the Puxi site, applications are to be arranged online for single/double/multiple entry visa invitation letters. After 3-4 days, if approved, an appointment is provided upon which the invitation letter is issued within approximately two hours.

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