China: New visa rules (tourist, business) (Beijing)
Just in case your family/friends will visit you in the upcoming months...
China: New visa rules may trip up tourists, business travelers
If you’re planning a trip to China and don’t have an up-to-date visa in hand, you may encounter some additional red tape.
On Aug. 1, the Chinese government started requiring that travelers seeking tourist visas, officially known as L visas, submit a letter of invitation and photocopies of the traveler’s round-trip ticket and hotel reservations.
To obtain a business, or F Visa, applicants must now have an invitation letter or “confirmation letter of invitation” issued by an authorized Chinese agency. This is in addition to an invitation letter issued by a Chinese local government, company, corporation or institution.
For tourists, the invitation letter can come from a “duly authorized tourism unit” or it can be issued by a company, corporation, institution or individual in China. If the letter comes from an individual, a photocopy of her or his identification must also be provided.
The new, more complicated rules, unfortunately, don't completely spell out what is considered a "duly authorized tourism unit" or what constitutes a "letter of invitation." Consulate officials did not respond to our request for additional clarification.
The new requirements have thrown many travelers for a loop, especially those who filled out the four-page visa application form in July but whose documents didn’t reach the consulate until August. The result has been confusion, communication challenges and, in some cases, a scramble to meet deadlines and travel itineraries.