When you want to stay in China for any period of time you will first need to take care of a few formalities. One of those formalities is applying for a visa for China.
What is a visa for China?
The CVASC describes it as the following:
"Chinese visa is a permit issued by authorities of China in accordance with the laws and regulations of China to a foreign citizen for entry into, exit from or transit through the territory of China."
So to summarize, it is basically permit which is issued by appointed authorities, with which you can legally travel into, exit out of or transit through China. It is required for you to have a Chinese visa if you want to go to China. If you don't have a the document in your passport you will be stopped by customs and will not be allowed to pass through.
So how can I get it?
First you will need to decide what kind of visa you will be needing, as there are several different types of visa's you can apply for. So decide for what purpose you will be going to China and in the list below, find out what type of visa applies to you.
-Tourist and family visit visa is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for tourist purposes, family visit or other personal affairs.
-Business Visa is issued to a foreign citizen who is invited to China for visit, research, lecture, business, exchanges in the fields of science, technology, education, culture and sports, or attending various kinds of trade fairs or exhibitions, or short-term study, intern practice for a period of less than 6 months.
-Student Visa is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for the purpose of study or advanced study for a period of six or more months.
-Work Visa is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China to work and his or her accompanying family members, or to give commercial performances in China.
-Transit Visa is issued to a foreign citizen who is to transit through China on his or her way to a third country (or region).
-Crew Visa is issued to crew member performing his/her duties on board an international train, or on an international airline, to a sailor on board an international ocean-liner or freighter, and also to their accompanying family members.
-Journalist Visa is issued to foreign journalists. J-visa has two categories: J-1 and J-2. J-1 is issued to resident foreign journalists in China and their accompanying spouses and under-age children, J-2 to foreign journalists who visit China for temporary news coverage.
-Permanent Residence Visa is issued to a foreign citizen who has been approved by China's public security authority to reside in China permanently.
If you are in doubt on what kind of visa you need, you can contact your local china visa authority for help.
A short example: Let's say you are a student and want to study in Beijing, China for 20 weeks (5 months). Do you apply for a Student visa? No, since you will only be staying there for 5 months you will apply for a Business visa. In order to be eligible for a student visa you need to stay for a period fo 6 months or more.
Each type of visa has it's own forms you need to fill in, please check out the specifics for each one to find out what you need to do to get yours.
Please note that you do not always need a the visa-permit to enter China or transit through China, there are a few exceptions. You do not need to apply for a Chinese visa if:
-You are a citizen of Singapore, Brunei or Japan holding an ordinary passport and are coming to China for family visit, business or transit. Maximum days allowed in China: 15 (If you want to stay longer, you need to apply for a visa)
-You have a confirmed onward ticket and seat on an international flight and will stay no longer than 24 hours in China. In this situation you will not have to apply for a Transit visa.
For more exceptions please go to the CVASC website
You will need to apply for a visa at a local Chinese authority. I greatly recommend you do it at the CVASC. This agency is available in multiple locations over different continents. You can check out which locations they have on their website.
There is a possibility that a location near you is not listed. Then you should find out on the internet where the closest appointed Chinese authority is located.
Once you have decided for what visa you should apply, you should then fill in the forms and apply at the Chinese authority.