Ask any foreigner who’s been in China for a while and you’re likely to hear the same gripe – visas can be a real headache. Visa regulations are ever-evolving as the government tweaks the system to close loopholes and reduce ambiguities. In 2013, there was a major overhaul of visa categories, increasing the number of classifications from eight to 12. In China, visas are referred to by a letter code. Recently, both Canada and the US signed reciprocal ten-year multiple-entry visa agreements with China. Under these agreements, Canadian citizens are eligible for long-term L, M, S2, and Q2 visas while US citizens are eligible for long-term L and M visas. The application documents and materials needed for ten-year visas are similar to those for regular visas.
M Visa 商贸, shangmao
Also known as the “commercial visa,” the M visa covers business- and commerce-related trips, which in the past fell under the F visa. This means visitors traveling to China for business or to participate in a trade fair. The longest stay granted is a multiple-entry 12-month visa.
Q Visa 亲属, qinshu
This visa is intended for family members (defined as spouses, parents, children, children-in-law, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law) previously covered under the L visa. Only those related to Chinese nationals or foreign nationals with Chinese residence permits are eligible for this visa.
The Q Visa has two subclasses, Q1 and Q2. The Q1 is also known as the “family reunion” or “foster care visa” and allows long-term stays of over 180 days. Holders of a Q1 visa must register at the Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 30 days of entry. The Q2 visa is issued for stays of under 180 days; there is no need to visit the PSB unless an extension is required.
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