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China Private Visit Visa (S)

Chinese private visit visa, more familiar to foreigners as S visa or sometimes as the dependant visa, is issued to family members of foreigners who reside in China for work or study or to those who intend to go to China for private affairs such as marriage, lawsuit, heritage, adoption, and medical treatment. It is further classified into S1 visa and S2 visa. The former is for a longer stay duration of more than 180 days, while the latter is for a stay duration not exceeding 180 days.

Differences between S1 Visa and S2 Visa

Type Application Conditions
S1 visa 1. Intended Duration of Stay > 180 days
2. Applicants restrictions:
Family members of foreigners residing in China for work or study, including spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 or parents-in-law;
those who intend to go to China for private matters
S2 visa 1. Intended Duration of Stay ≤ 180 days
2. Applicants restrictions:
Family members of foreigners residing in China for work or study, including spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law;
those who intend to go to China for private matters

Perceptive applicants may find that the Duration of Each Stay is 000 when they receive the S1 visa. It means the exact stay duration needs to be further determined when they apply for the Temporary Residence Permit within 30 days after entering China. The residence permit can be granted with a maximum validity of five years and can be used to exit and enter China freely as long as it's valid.

China Private Visit Visa (S Visa) Requirements & Documents

1. Passport

- Applicant's passport with blank pages and at least six months validity left. Note: US citizens wishing to apply for a 10-year S2 visa should provide a passport valid for at least one year.

2. Application Form

- One truthfully completed China S Visa Application Form attached with a recent color photo.

3. Invitation Letter from the Foreigner Who Works or Studies in China

- The letter should contain:
a. Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
b. Information on the visit (purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, address of intended residence, relations between the applicant and the inviting individual, financial source of living expenditure, etc.)
c. Information on the inviting individual (name, contact number, address, signature, etc.)

4. The Inviter's Passport and Chinese Residence Permit

- A photocopy of the inviting individual's passport and residence permit of China.

5. Kinship Certification between the Inviter and Invitee

- Original and a photocopy of certification such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by the Public Security Bureau, or other notarized certification of kinship showing their family relationship.

For private affairs, a document explaining personal details such as marriage, heritage, adoption, and medical treatment is required.

How to Apply for China S Visa

Applicants must submit applications to Chinese embassies or consulates by themselves or someone else or through a trusted travel/visa agency. A personal appearance is necessary only when consular officials require an interview. Mail and mail-back services are not available at most embassies and consulates. However, for applications through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) wherever available, such as Canada, UK, Australia, France, Germany, India, and Singapore, applying by post is an option and applicants can also complete the application form online.

Processing Time

Regular processing currently takes four working days at Chinese embassies/consulates/ CVASC. Express service is also available. Same-day collecting service requires an extra charge of US$ 30 while two or three-day collecting service needs extra US$ 20. If applying from CVASC, you may also need to pay express service fee to the center.

China S Visa Fees

The fees differ in accordance with nationalities, number of entries and requested processing time. For S1 visa, as it only has one entry, the single-entry visa fee is applicable. For S2 visa, the fee varies with the number of entries.

China Business Visa Types US Citizens Canadian Citizens UK Citizens Australian Citizens
Single Entry USD 140 CAD 142 GBP 151 AUD 109.5
Double Entries USD 140 CAD 142 GBP 151 AUD 139.5
Multi Entries for 6 Months USD 140 CAD 142 GBP 151 AUD 169.5
Multi Entries for 12 Months or Longer USD 140 CAD 142 GBP 151 AUD 229.5

*The table is for reference only. For more details, please click China Visa Fees.

Further Reading:

8 Tips for Filling Out Chinese Visa Application Form

- Last modified on Dec. 30, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on China Private Visit Visa
Asked by Jey from SRI LANKA | Mar. 18, 2020 20:06Reply
VISA extended by 2 months
Please confirm if the news about visa extension of 2 months is applicable for S2 VISA holders as well?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kevin from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 18, 2020 23:51

Yes, it is applicable to S2 visa holders.
Asked by Tyler from HONG KONG | Feb. 18, 2020 21:05Reply
HK Citizen with 回乡证 planning to work in China what visa can my Canadian wife get?
I am a HK citizen with my own 回乡证, what documents will I need to get in order to apply for a S2 visa or any other visa that will enable her to stay in China for prolong amount of time? My wife only holds Canadian passport.
Answers (1)
Answered by John Doe | Feb. 19, 2020 20:06

Is your wife an ethnic Chinese born in HK? If she is, then all she needs to do is to apply for an HKSAR passport and get her own Home Return Permit. This will not affect her Canadian citizenship but merely making her a dual national.

If not then she may need to get a Q1 visa in Canada. An S visa is only issued to family members of non-Chinese nationals. Before she applies for the visa, however, you may want to contact your local National Immigration Administration to see whether she can get a residence permit (because you don't have a Chinese ID card).
Asked by Angel from CHINA | Feb. 11, 2020 02:15Reply
I need a sample letter to apply a S2 family visa for my baby born in china
Does any have the idea how to draft the letter to apply for family visa for a baby born in china
Answers (1)
Answered by Judy from CHINA | Feb. 14, 2020 20:41

You can ask your Chinese friend to find a sample online. It's easy to find one using Chinese search engine.
Asked by Mark from USA | Jan. 27, 2020 10:32Reply
How to get a Chinese visa for my baby born in China to a Chinese wife and an American husband?
I am an American on a Z visa working as a teacher and my wife is a Chinese citizen. We had our baby in August 2019 and we will get his US citizenship and passport. I think we should apply for an S1 visa for him once he has US citizenship. Is that right? And how do we do it? Or should we do something else? And are there any time limits on this? He only has a birth certificate with his name in English on it now and he was born in Beijing. No hukou.
Answers (3)
Answered by John Doe | Jan. 31, 2020 16:38

Your kid at this point is most likely a dual national of both China and the US ("most likely" as US citizenship by descent requires you to have resided in the US for more than 5 years before his birth, including two years after age 14), and as a matter of policy China does not recognize dual nationality and hence cannot issue any visas to him unless you both agree to renounce his Chinese nationality on his behalf. You have a few avenues:

The first option is to register your child as a US citizen and renounce his Chinese nationality after receiving his US passport. Keep in mind that he will not be eligible for any social services while in China and you will have to renew his family-based residence permit (not an S visa) every few years (and public schooling is out of the question). If you decide to take this route then you should first apply for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad and his first US passport at the embassy (at which point you will be quizzed about your residence in the US to determine his eligibility for US citizenship). After that you can apply to renounce his Chinese nationality at the National Immigration Administration office and get him a residence permit.
Answered by John Doe | Jan. 31, 2020 16:46

The second option is to register him for Hukou first before getting his Consular Report of Birth Abroad. By doing this you will have legalized his Chinese nationality and he no longer needs a residence permit and can get a Chinese passport healthcare and attend schools as locals (subject to hukou restrictions if your wife does not have Hukou in Beijing). This also means he will not be eligible for US consular services while on Chinese territory (the American airlift in Wuhan is obviously out of the question). Adding someone to your wife's hukou is also quite complicated and depends on your wife's hukou (it would be much straightforward if she has hukou in large cities).

To summarize, regardless of which route you want to take, your child will never be eligible for an S visa. To be issued an S visa, both parents must not be (and never been) Chinese nationals. If you want to take the first route then your child will only be eligible for a residence permit.
Answered by Mark from USA | Feb. 25, 2020 18:59

Thank you so much, John Doe! Sorry for the late response.
Asked by Carolyn from AUSTRALIA | Jan. 19, 2020 23:56Reply
18 Year Old Son
My husband and I are moving to China for work and we will be taking our teenage boys with us. One of them is 18 and will be fully financially supported by us. Is showing our bank account details enough proof for this and which visa do we apply for? Thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by Hanks from USA | Jan. 20, 2020 18:11

Your husband and you can apply for a Z visa. The one elder than 18 can only apply for an S2 visa, the other can apply for an S1 visa. You also need to show your sons' birth certificates.
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