Do I still need a Work Visa if I’m working in China for a short time (a “short work stay”)?
Photo by Brian Marks
If you’re planning to come to China to perform any kind of paid work for a Chinese (or China-based) company - even if you’re in a famous rock band – then you need to apply for some form of visa. This is true even if you are staying for less than 90 days. This has been the case since China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security circulated an order to this effect on January 1, 2015.
When a Z Visa (Work Visa) is required
Foreigners must apply for a Work Visa if they will be staying in China for up to 90 days for the following five reasons:
- They have been invited by a Chinese company or the Chinese government to complete tasks involving technology, scientific research, management, guidance or cooperation,
- They have been invited to participate in athletic tryouts at a Chinese sporting institution such as a school, club, sports association etc,
- To shoot films, including advertisements and documentaries,
- To perform in fashion shows, including car modeling and print advertisements,
- To participate as performers in commercial performances (eg. a band playing at a bar or nightclub).
When an M Visa (Business Visa) is required
Foreigners must apply for a Business Visa if they will be staying in China for up to 90 days for the following reasons:
- Providing services such as maintenance, installation, commissioning, disassembly, guidance or training associated with the purchase of machines and equipment,
- Guiding, supervising and inspecting a project that has been won in a bid and will be carried out in China,
- Being sent to work short-term at a Chinese branch, subsidiary or representative office of a foreign company,
- Performing a role as an athlete, coach, medical staff, assistant and or related staff participating in most sports competitions.
When an F Visa (Tourist Visa) is required
Foreigners must apply for a Tourist Visa if they will be staying in China for up to 90 days for the following reasons:
- Volunteering (eg. at an orphanage), whether for free or for money, as long as the payment comes from a foreign entity,
- Participating in commercial performances noted as “foreign-related non-commercial performances” by the cultural authorities in the Approval Letter.
How to apply for a Work Visa for short-term tasks
Foreign entertainment individuals or entities will need to gather the following documents – your employer/inviter should provide you with copies of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 in this list. Once you have the documents, you can follow the application process as seen on this page.
- An Approval Letter from the relevant local cultural authorities, noting whether the visit is for commercial or non-commercial purposes,
- Get the Approval of Short-term Employment for Foreigners Working in China, which is a stamped form, from the relevant local cultural authorities. “Entertainment groups” such as a band, circus or choir, can use one Approval Letter and Approval of Short-term Employment for their whole group (non-entertainment groups should follow the guide below for “Other foreigners”),
- Invitation letter from the inviting company,
- Original passport (with at least six months to go before expiration at the time of application),
- Copy of inviting company’s business license and tax certificate,
- Cooperation agreement/project contract between the inviting company and the invited group/individuals.
Other foreigners will need to gather the following documents – as above, your employer/inviter should provide you with copies of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 in this list. Once you have the documents, you can follow the application process as seen on this page.
- A Work Permit from the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (see this page for list of addresses),
- Approval of Short-term Employment for Foreigners Working in China, which is a stamped form, from local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau,
- Invitation letter from the Chinese partner company,
- Original, signed passport (with at least six months to go before expiration at the time of application),
- Copy of Chinese partner’s business license and tax certificate,
- Cooperation agreement/project contract between the parties.
If the foreign parties intend to stay in China for more than 30 days, they need to apply for a residence permit within 30 days of arrival.
The Work Visa for short-term tasks can’t be extended. Anyone who wants to work for more than 90 days should apply for a regular Work Visa. You can check our guide here.
If you are found on wrong type of visa, you might face penalties. For more information see this article.
Useful Chinese words and phrases
|短期工作签证||duǎnqī gōngzuò qiānzhèng||Short-term Employment Visa|
|文化部门批准书||wénhuà bùmén pīzhǔnshū||Approval Letter from cultural authorities|
|外国人在中国短期工作证明||wàiguórén zài zhōngguó duǎnqī gōngzuò zhèngmíng||Approval of Short-term Employment for Foreigners Working in China|
|体育机构||tǐyù jīgòu||Sports institutions|
|涉外商业表演||shèwài shāngyè biǎoyǎn||Foreign-related Commercial Performance|
|非商业表演||fēi shāngyè biǎoyǎn||Non-Commercial Performance|
|演艺团体||yǎnyì tuántǐ||Entertainment Group|
- How do I apply for a Chinese mainland Z Visa for workers?
- Registering with the Chinese police and getting a Registration Form of Temporary Residence
- I have to replace my passport but my Chinese mainland residency permit or visa is still active. What do I do?
- Can I apply for a Chinese mainland Work Visa if I’m not in my own country?
- What happens to my visa and residence permit if I get fired or leave my job in China?