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Chinese Temporary Residence Permit

Some visas, most notably Work, Student and Long Stay Journalist visas (Z, X, J-1) are normally for 30 days and for a single entry, though it might actually say zero entries – don't worry about that.  This allows you to enter and begin the process of obtaining a Temporary Residence Permit, usually for up to 5 years – depending on the contract or course length. This Permit will allow you unlimited exits and re-entries. 

So, the Temporary Residence Permit is in reality a visa by another name.  It is pasted into your passport exactly like a visa and looks almost the same and permits you unlimited exit and entry during its validity

If you arrive on a work visa or student visa you will be working for an accredited employer of foreigners or attending an academic institution accredited for running courses for foreigners.  Long stay journalists will also have an organisation they are linked to - only they can provide the support you need to get these visas. All these organisations should have staff who know the system and should accept responsibility for organising the application though they will need your input and co-operation.

The organisation and you are required to commence the application at the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) Exit and Entry Administration office within 30 days of your entry into the China Mainland.  You should not go travelling for 29 days before you arrive at the organisation and then expect it to get onto your case the next day, go there first and get things started. Apart from anything else, you need to get to know the person who will be handling your application and learn to work together and if you are new to China you need to learn the style of management and administration.  Even with the best intentions on both sides, cultural differences can cause difficulties, so try to be patient.

Within 24 hours of arrival on one of these visas you should try to ensure that your organisation (usually someone from its Foreign Affairs Office) creates an appointment to take you to the police station for the area you will be living in to register you as a resident in their area - this is a legal requirement.  However, don't panic if the organisation waits a couple of days.  Ensure that you take you passport and be prepared to explain your entries and exits; the interviewing officers are usually very friendly and helpful, but in all situations be polite as the officer has considerable power over your application.  The police station (actually the officer given this role) can supply an 'accommodation registration printout' when you are about to apply for the residency permit. 

Persons applying for residency are required to attend for a 'physical examination', i.e. a medical, at an authorised medical centre.  Again, your organisation should assist you with this.  The applicant is responsible for paying the examination fee and the application for the residency permit, (expect 600 to 1000 RMB for the two). Employees will often have this paid for by the employer but not always – it is simply a negotiable part of the contract.  Remember to fast for 12 hours before the 'physical', drink water only.  The Chinese eyesight test can confuse: you will find it is based on something like the letter E.  You must say or point whether it is like an E, or reversed, or has its back to the base line or its back uppermost.

Education institutions will provide students with documentation showing that the institution is accredited, that the student has been properly enrolled and has paid the fees.  Employers will provide a copy of the contract of employment (in Chinese and English), evidence of their right to employ foreigners, a letter of invitation and your certificate as a 'foreign expert'.   Ask the organisation you are joining to seek an expiry date some weeks after the contract or study ends – this saves applying for a another visa immediately and provides more time to organise an extension should you stay on for a further period.  Some will agree, but not all.  Of course the PSB office might not agree to you having the residency beyond the contract or study period.

Once all this has been collected, your organisation will arrange an 'interview' with the local PSB office (it might be as little as just seeing who you are!).  You will need to take along at least the following:
• Passport
• Accommodation registration printout from the police
• Physical examination results
• Employment or student documentation  (from your organisation, as explained in the previous paragraph)
• The fee

Processing the residency application itself is likely to take at least 14 days.  If you have a very efficient organisation and PSB office, it is theoretically possible to get the Temporary Residence Permit within 3 weeks or your arrival, but 6 weeks is more typical, and it can take much longer (I know!).  NOTE:  during this time (except when your application is being processed and your passport is with the PSB) you are permitted to exit the China mainland, but you CANNOT re-enter unless you get another visa which automatically cancels the old one.  You would need the full paperwork from the employer or college to get another Z or X, essentially, start all over again.   So, realistically, do not plan to travel outside the Mainland soon after you arrive.  Most of the time you have your passport, so you can stay in hotels if you want to travel on the Mainland.  When your permit is being processed you will not have your passport, but if you can use your Foreign Expert Certificate (a small booklet) and carry a photocopy of your passport for hotel registration.

Physical Examination

When seeking some types, eg, Z, X, F, D, J-1, you are sometimes told by organisations that you must undergo a health check in order to get it.  This is generally not true, though you will have to undergo one after you arrive.  The physical is required for visas having a duration of greater than 6 months in a single visit.  Z, X, J1 are only issued for 30 days and then you must apply for a Temporary Residence Permit – and that requires that you undertake the physical. However, you could complete the first part of the form where you make certain declarations about your health and submit that with the application.  The second part must be completed by a doctor and is normally done in China in nominated medical locations in major municipalities.  If you decide to undergo the medical examination before leaving your home, ensure that you take the chest X-rays with you.

You may be rejected for a visa, or temporary residency if you have or have had certain illnesses.  Serious mental disorder, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, or other infectious disease of public health hazards are the most obvious ones.  China is also less organised with facilities for those who are 'disadvantaged' and you may find that you are 'discriminated' against on that basis.  This is realistic in respect of persons applying to teach, as schools and universities rarely have lifts (elevators) between floors.

Renewing a Temporary Residency Permit

If you remain with the same organisation they will arrange the residency extension.  Try to ensure that you decide if you are continuing well in advance or the end of your current contract or study period so that it can be sorted out before it expires and before any travels you might make.

Changing Educational Institution or Employer

If you want to study at a different educational institution or work for another employer, it is permitted to do this without having to start from the absolute beginning and get a new visa.  The first criterion is that you must do this while the existing Temporary Residency Permit is valid.  The new organisation must be eligible in the normal way and must obtain all the new paperwork.  There can be difficulties if the old organisation will not co-operate or positively objects as they might when you want to leave a job before the end of the contract.  Realistically, a lot depends on the new organisation as it will have to lead and manage the situation.

- Last modified on Nov. 08, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Chinese Temporary Residence Permit
Asked by Das from SOUTH AFRICA | Nov. 28, 2020 23:46Reply
Renew residence permit
I want to find out if I can renew my residence permit while having 7 months remaining on my current residence permit because I want to fly out of the country by February and will return by December, is there any way I can do my paperwork before I go so that by the time I'm ready to come back I can just fly back.
Answers (1)
Answered by Danny | Nov. 29, 2020 22:05

Dear, I'm afraid you can't renew your residence permit so early. Generally speaking, you should renew it within the one month before it expires.
Asked by Lynn from USA | Nov. 25, 2020 11:48Reply
one to two days late for applying for resident permit
My son is a student in Shanghai on an X1 visa and he arrived at the end of October. I believe his 30 days to apply for residence permit expire at the end of the day this coming Monday. He did 14 days in quarantine, then 7 days in "self-isolation," which was required by the Ministry of Education for university students. He just moved into his dorm this week, and did his health exam Wednesday morning. He registered as required within 24 hours. He is awaiting his health certificate, which may not come til Wednesday -- two days after his 30 days expire. My question is: if he applies two days late for his Residency Permit, will he get in trouble? I'm worried. Thanks!
Answers (1)
Answered by Darcy | Nov. 29, 2020 22:02

Don't worry, he won't get in trouble as long as he explain the situation to the immigration officer when applying for the residence permit.
Asked by Elaine from PHILIPPINES | Nov. 25, 2020 00:33Reply
Working Permit and Temporary Residence Permit
My temporary residence permit will expire Feb. 27, 2021. When should we start to process the renewal of the work permit and Temporary Residence Permit
Answers (1)
Answered by Leona | Nov. 26, 2020 23:08

Elaine, you can start the process in January 2021.
Asked by Sam from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 24, 2020 23:21Reply
Q 1 Visa
is there any agency who can assist in getting my Residents permit once I arrive on Q1 visa in Guangzhou ?

what kind of Residents permit I will be getting after Q1 visa, what are the requirements for the RP and can I find a job on Residents permit in a company in china if I am living there for a year?

Answers (1)
Answered by Bernie | Nov. 26, 2020 23:02

Sam, you can actually get the residence permit by yourself from the local exit and entry administration. The process is quite simple. You just need to collect all your documents that were used to get the Q1 visa plus a registration form of temporary residence and then apply for the residence permit.

If you find job, you can change the Q1 visa to Z visa and renew your residence permit.
Asked by Hector from PUERTO RICO | Nov. 08, 2020 20:37Reply
My resident permit will expire soon.
I have 2 very important questions.

I have a relative that lives in China.
My temporary resident permit will expire Dec 7.
Im trying to book flight before then end of the month..
But im afraid of the 14 day quarantine there.
Im afraid my temporary resident permit will expire during my quarantine.
Also time given to get a health check.
Im afraid what will happen

Also since I will need connecting flights im confused about when I need to take the CoVid19 test.

Is the CoVid19 test only valid 48 hours before i get on the 1st plane?
Or 48 hours after I get on the 1st plane?
Answers (1)
Answered by Derek | Nov. 12, 2020 23:06

Hector, don't worry, after your quarantine ends, you can renew the temporary residence permit at the local exit and entry administration.

Actually you need to take the Covid19 tests twice, one within the 48 hours before you get on the 1st plane and one at the third country where you take the connecting flight.
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