A few weeks ago, Richard Brubaker of All Roads Lead to China reported:
I just received an email from a friend who said that they were being told they could not renew their F visa fro within China anymore. A quick Skype to another confirmed that F visas cannot be extended past the Olympics.
That apparently is not the case, but the cost of an F visa has gone up quite a bit. In Richard’s latest post:
Over the last 10 days or so, I have been fielding emails, Skypes, and phone calls from friends and readers about the pain in the butt that has become their extension process… and apparently the news is BAD. In a couple of cases, U.S. citizens were told they would have to pay 2300 RMB for a 3 month visa (same price as a usual 1 year). A 1 year visa.. a whopping 14000RMB!
Meanwhile, this is what we found over at bizCult:
1) F visas can be renewed within mainland China for six-month periods if you are of certain nationality. Citizens of developed countries, have no fear, your F visa renewal can be near. However since late last year, citizens from certain developing countries cannot have their F visas renewed, at least not in mainland China. Renewal in Hong Kong may be an alternative. African and Middle Eastern citizens appear to be those especially affected by the new stricter regulations. One consultant suggested citizens of countries in which suicide bombings typically occur will have more trouble renewing their F visa.
2) Consultants are at odds over whether F visa restrictions will tighten or lessen from now until the run-up to the Olympics. One consultant suggested the May through August period will be especially difficult to extend one’s F visa. Another said she didn’t think so, because government officials want to encourage business during the Olympic Games, so they will make it easy if one can demonstrate an Olympic-related business purpose.
3) The suggestion that F visas cannot be extended past the Olympics appears to be false, as renewals can be six months in duration.
4) Those who have broken Chinese law while holding F visas may have more trouble renewing them – duh.
For those of you that go to Hong Kong, read what the moderator of the Oriental List, Peter Neville-Hadley says:
Word has it that the duration of visas issued in Hong Kong continues to get shorter and shorter, down from one year to six months last year, and now down to a maximum of three months. Expect controls to continue to grow as the Olympics approaches, and possibly a shut-down in visa issuance altogether if the government panics as it did at the time of the Women’s Conference.
When deciding whether another person’s individual experience with acquiring a visa is relevant it’s important to note the following:
1. Whatever the current state of play, there’s always someone who got round the rules either deviously or by accident. That doesn’t mean you will.
2. The situation changes at very short notice.
3. Success in getting a visa of a certain type depends on where you apply for it. In general Hong Kong is the easiest place, where for many years visas requiring supporting paperwork elsewhere have been available without the need for any such thing.
4. Success can also depend on whether you are a national of the country where the application is being made. Foreigners who have permanent residence in Hong Kong have access to a better range of longer visas, in general.
5. Success can also depend on your nationality.
6. Success can also depend on your race: those of Chinese descent, with Chinese names or Chinese appearance, often get better visas with less fuss.
7. Success can depend on your planned point of entry, and method of passing through it (entries from Kyrgyzstan and Nepal in particular).
8. Success can depend on what you put down as your destination (Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, anywhere having a fit of the ab-dabs at the time, not recommended) and what you put down as your job. Don’t be a photographer, be a marketing executive.
9. Having multiple previous visas in a passport can help to obtain on of longer duration.
We imagine many readers of this blog are holders of F visas. If you’ve been applying for an extension of your visa recently, share with us your experience in the comment section below.
Photo from Heidi D