A Q1 visa and the corresponding “residence permit for family reunion” are for family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents coming to China for purposes of family reunion and intending to stay more than 180 days. This article provides an overview. It is not exhaustive.
- What’s the difference between a visa and a residence permit?
- Unlike Q1 visas discussed in this article, Q2 visas are issued to persons who are applying to enter and stay for a short period (up to 180 days) to visit relatives. See Entry-Exit Administration Regulations, art. 2(8); MOFA, About Chinese Visas.
Step 1: Q1 Visa
Q1 visas are issued to relatives of Chinese citizens or permanent residents applying to enter and reside (for more than 180 days) in China for purposes of family reunion. See Regs, art. 2(8).
“Family members,” for this purpose refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law. See MOFA, supra.
Apply at a PRC embassy, consulate, or other visa-issuing agencies with jurisdiction over your country of citizenship or residence outside Mainland China. (See Will visa runs to Hong Kong or a third country be possible?)
Basic documents for a PRC visa application may include passport (valid for at least 12 months and with at least 2 blank pages), photo, visa application form, visa fee, proof of residence or legal stay for third-country nationals, evidence of name change, photocopy of prior passport with PRC visas, and additional documents for applicants of Chinese descent or minors (under age 18).
For a Q1 visa application, the following additional documents are required:
(1) An invitation letter issued by a Chinese citizen or permanent resident who lives in China. The invitation letter should contain: (a) Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.); (b) Information on the visit (purpose of visit, intended arrival date, place(s) of intended residence, intended duration of residence, arrival and departure dates, relations between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, financial source for expenditures); and (c) Information on the inviting individual (name, contact telephone number, address, official stamp, signature of legal representative or the inviting individual, etc.)
(2) Photocopies of the PRC citizen host’s Chinese ID and hukou or PRC permanent resident host’s foreign passport and permanent residence permit.
(3) Original and photocopy of certification (marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by Public Security Bureau or notarized certification of kinship) showing the relationship of family members between applicant and inviting individual.
See MOFA, supra; Regs, art. 7(8).
It’s recommended that you apply a month before your planned trip to China. Normal processing time is 4 business days. Expedited service may be available.
At most visa-issuing agencies, the application must be dropped off in person by the applicant or an agent. But an interview may be required. See Who needs an interview at the Chinese Embassy or other visa issuing agency abroad?
Check the website of the PRC embassy, consulate, or other visa-issuing agency where you will be applying. Local requirements and procedures vary.
The Q1 visa is usually issued for 1 entry within 90 days of issuance and with duration of stay of “000” (meaning, to be determined by the Public Security Bureau when issuing the residence permit).
Step 2: Residence Permit for Family Reunion
Residence certificates for family reunion (团聚类居留证件) are to foreigners related to Chinese citizens or permanent residents who need to reside in China for purposes of family reunion. (Regs, art. 15(4)).
Within 30 days of entering China with the Q1 visa, apply for a residence permit at the local public security bureau’s entry-exit administration office where your relative resides (usually, according to the residence listed on the hukou, but some cities including Beijing will allow an application if the relative has a temporary residence permit). For persons with visas other than Q1, check local rules regarding eligibility to apply directly for a residence permit for family reunion.
The basic documents for a residence permit include passport with Q1 visa, application form, filing fee, temporary residence registration form from the local police station, and 2 passport-style photos. In addition, a health certificate from the designated local medical center is required for initial residence permit applicants, unless exempt due to age under local rules.
Additional documents required to apply for a residence permit for family reunion include:
(1) An invitation letter issued by a Chinese citizen or permanent resident who lives in China. (See above).
(2) PRC citizen host’s Chinese ID and hukou or PRC permanent resident host’s foreign passport and permanent residence permit.
(3) Relationship certificates (see above). If the certificates are issued outside China, they should be authenticated in the PRC embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the place issued.
Local requirements and procedures may vary. (For example, in some locations it may be necessary to submit proof, such as bank statements, that the host or residence permit applicant has enough money to sustain the applicant while in China.) Processing typically takes 5 to 15 workdays.
Terms and Conditions of Stay
- Validity: The period of validity of the residence permit will be determined by local rules but by law must be 180 days to 5 years. See Exit-Entry Administration Law, art. 30.
- Temporary Residence Registration is required at the local police station within 24 hours of entry and upon issuance of the residence permit.
- No work authorization: A person in China with a Q1 visa or residence permit for family is not authorized to work. Consider applying for a work-related visa and residence permit.
- Extension of the residence permit: See How early must an application for a visa, stay certificate, or residence permit be filed with the Exit-Entry Administration?