Samples of Selected China Immigration Documents

1. Temporary Residence Registration Form

This temporary residence registration form (临时住宿登记单) is filed by a foreign national with a local police station or hotel where he or she resides. Re-registration is required within 24 hours of: (a) moving into a new dwelling; (b) re-entering China with a visa (but not with a residence permit); (c) being issued a new visa or residence permit by a public security bureau exit-entry administration office.

Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan compatriots also need to complete the registration process.

For more on temporary residence registration, see here.


2. Visa

A visa is stamped into a foreign national’s passport by a Chinese embassy or consulate abroad, or by a public safety bureau (PSB) exit-entry administration office within China.

  • C visa is issued to crewmembers performing duties on board an international train, aircraft or vessel, and the accompanying family members of vessel crewmembers, and vehicle drivers engaged in international transportation services;
  • D visa is issued to persons who come to China for permanent residence;
  • F visa is issued to persons who come to China for exchanges, visits, study tours or other relevant activities;
  • G visa is issued to persons who transit through China;
  • J1 visa is issued to resident foreign journalists of permanent offices of foreign news agencies in China; the J2 visa is for foreign journalists who come to China for short-term news coverage;
  • L visa is issued to persons who come to China for travel; persons who come to China for group travel can be issued Group L visas;
  • M visa is issued to persons who come to China for commercial trade activities;
  • Q1 visa is issued to family members of Chinese citizens and family members of foreigners with permanent residence status in China who apply for residence in China for family reunion, as well as for persons who apply for residence in China for fosterage or other purposes; the Q2 visa is for relatives of Chinese citizens living in China, or relatives of foreigners with permanent residence status in China, who apply for a short-term visit;
  • R visa is issued to foreigners of high talent who are needed, or specialists who are urgently needed, by the State;
  • S1 visa is issued to the spouses, parents, children under the age of 18 or parents-in-law of foreigners residing in China for work, study or other purposes who apply for a long-term visit to China, as well as for persons who need to reside in China for other personal matters; the S2 visa is for family members of foreigners staying or residing in China for work, study or other purposes who apply for a short-term visit to China, as well as for persons who need to stay in China for other personal matters;
  • X1 visa is issued to persons who apply for long-term study in China; the X2 visa is for persons who apply for short-term study in China; and
  • Z visa is issued to persons who apply for work in China.
(Sample Z visa 2014)
Sample Z visa 2015)

3.  Work Permit / Alien Employment Permit / Foreign Expert Permit

Beginning in 2017, work permits (工作许可) are issued by a local Human Resources and Social Security bureau in the format of a card: 

Prior to 2017, work permits were issued by several different agencies.

Human Resource and Social Security bureaus issued documents with the title Alien Employment Permit (外国人就业证):

Foreign expert bureaus issued documents with the title Foreign Expert Certificate (外国专家证):

Upon completion of the employment, the agency should issue a Cancellation or Transfer Certificate of Work Permit (工作许可注销或迁移证明):

4. China Immigration Documents for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau residents

Hong Kong and Macau residents typically enter China with a Home Return Permit (回乡证). This is issued by the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security through China Travel Service sub-branches in Hong Kong and Macau.

Taiwan residents typically enter with a Taiwan Compatriot Permit (台胞证) card issued by the PRC Ministry of Public Security. Prior to Sept. 2015, it was in the form of a booklet including an entry endorsement called a 签注. This permit is used instead of a Taiwan passport.

The PRC government previously issued China Work Permits for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao Residents (台港澳人员就业证). However, effective Sept. 2018, residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau no longer require work permits to work in mainland China. 

5. Residence Permit

A residence permit (居留许可) is stamped into a foreign national’s passport by a public security bureau (PSB) exit-entry administration office. Residence permits are divided into the following types:

  • Work: issued to persons who work in China;
  • Study: ossued to persons who pursue long-term studies in China;
  • Journalist: issued to resident foreign journalists of permanent offices of foreign news agencies in China;
  • Reunion: issued to family members of Chinese citizens and family members of foreigners with permanent residence status in China who need to reside in China for family reunion, and to persons who need to reside in China for fosterage or other purposes; and
  • Personal matters: issued to spouses, parents, children under the age of 18 or parents-in-law of foreigners residing in China for work, study or other purposes, who apply for long-term visit to China, as well as for persons who need to reside in China for other personal matters.

Before about 2005, residence permits were issued as separate booklets rather than as passport stamps:

6. Form JW202, Visa Application for Study in China

 (外国留学人员来华签证申请表)

7. Student ID Card

(学生证)

8. Certificate of No Criminal Conviction

A certificate of no criminal conviction (CNCC) (无犯罪记录证明), also known as a notarial police certificate, may appear slightly different depending on its intended use. This version is issued for use in connection with an U.S. immigrant visa application, so it is issued with a certified English translation:

9. Authentication by China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry

On occasion, a foreign government may request that a certificate of no criminal conviction be authenticated by China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. The authentication looks like this:

10. Notice of Refusal of Application for a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction

If a notary office accepts an application for a certificate of no criminal conviction (CNCC) but then refuses that application, the notary should issue a notice of refusal such as the following: