China’s globally respected universities continue to make a mark in terms of academic excellence. Coupled with the country’s impressive economic growth in recent years, it comes as no surprise that China is now one of the most popular destinations for international students and home to the world’s 3rd largest international student population. According to China Power, many students from the USA, Europe and other parts of Asia are now preferring to pursue their degrees here.
In fact, this year, China is hoping to reach its target of hosting 500,000 international students. This will mark a significant mark in the country’s academic standing in the world and will bring it close to the major players such as the US and the UK.
If you’re planning to spend a semester in this rising giant or would love to study an entire degree here, you’ll not only be exposed to rigorous, quality education but will also enjoy the rich Chinese culture, the diverse cities and the robust government initiatives that have been put in place for international students.
But before you can travel to this vibrant and eclectic destination you must first obtain a visa. This is perhaps the most daunting and nerve-wracking process when preparing for your studies abroad. Because China’s student visa requirements are somewhat complex and opaque.
Here, we’ve got it all simplified! We’ll provide you with in-depth details on your student visa to China application process, and explore some of the China student visa requirements to help you get started on this exciting journey.
Let’s dive in. Shall we?
Types Of Student Visa To China
The China Student Visa, also known as X Visa is a document issued to all aliens who come for their studies in China. Anybody entering China for educational purposes and internship practice MUST possess the X Visa.
The first requirement when applying for a student visa is an acceptance notice by a Chinese college. Then, depending on the length of your studies, you can either be issued with:
- X1 visa or,
- X2 visa.
X1 visa is issued to students who will be studying in China for more than 6 months. On the other hand, the X2 visa is issued to students who’ll be studying in a Chinese college for less than 6 months.
While these two types of X visas serve the same purpose, they have several unique differences.
X1 Visas: Visas for Long-Term Study (6 Months or Longer)
X1 visas are issued to students that will be enrolled in a diploma or degree program that lasts 6 months or more. They have an extended validity of up to 5 years and can be used in multiple entries and exits. However, you’ll be required to apply for a residence permit within 1 month after you arrive in China to allow you to use the X1 visa for multiple entries.
Basically, the residence permit is a replacement of your visa that is applied at a local Public Security Bureau (PSB) Administration office. The permit is usually valid for a period not more than the time you were granted the original visa.
X2 Visa: Visas for Short-Term Study (Less Than 6 Months)
X2 is similar to X1 visa but issued to those traveling to China for a short term period, usually less than 6 months. Unlike X1 visas, the X2 visa is only valid for 180 days and can only be used for a single entry.
China Student Visa Requirements & Documents
Here are a few documents that you’ll require when applying for your X1 or X2 China Student Visa:
- An original passport with at least 18 months validity and with at least 2 blank visa pages.
- Photocopy of the passport name page.
- An original and a copy of the admission letter/notice from the Chinese college or university. The acceptance notice should have a stamp and a seal.
- An original and a photocopy of approved foreign student visa application form JW201 and JW 202 that are issued by the State Education Ministry of China through your collage.
- One passport-style photograph on a clear, solid background. The photo should show your entire phase and should not be taken with a hat.
- Digitally completed Visa application form V.2013. This should be downloaded from the Chinese embassy website in your country
- Copy of airplane tickets and accommodation arrangements
- Proof of a valid physical examination record for students above the age of 19. However, this requirement is only necessary for X1 visa applicants only. The proof of medical examination will help you when applying for the residence permit. You should print the foreign physical examination form, take the form to a physician and have it filled.
- Proof of payment of the Visa processing fee, service, and shipping. The cost varies depending on the country of origin.
Where To Apply For China Student Visa
Depending on your country, China student visas can be applied at a Chinese consulate or embassy in person or through an agency. Students from Australia, Canada, UK, and EU countries can apply for their X Visa through the Chinese Visa application service center (CVASC).
CVASC are private companies that are usually outsourced by the Chinese embassies to fast track the visa application process in various countries. They usually check the documents during the visa application process before passing them on to the embassy for approval.
It is important to note that most Chinese consulates and embassies in most countries do not allow mailed applications, and instead will require you or an authorized agent to make the visa application in person. However, if there is a CVASC in your country, you can mail your application as most of these centers accepts mailed applications.
Also, most Chinese embassies and consulates do not require the applicants to make prior appointments.
Steps When Applying for China Student Visa
Time needed: 3 minutes.
Steps for Applying China Student Visa
- University Choice
The first step is to look for a University in China that has a program for international students. Select the one that best suits you. If the University offers English-taught programs, be sure to check if they require a language proficiency test before making your application. This also applies to Mandarin-taught programs.
If the university requires you to take a proficiency test, ensure that you do it well ahead of time before the intended admission date to avoid the pesky last-minute hassles.
- Duly Filled and Sealed Acceptance Notice as Proof of Official Invitation
Once your University of choice accepts your application, they will send you an acceptance notice together with approved foreign student visa application forms (forms JW 201 and JW 202) that are issued by the State Education Ministry of China.
Make clear copies of these forms since you’ll require them in your Visa application.
- China Student Visa Application Form
Download the Visa application form from the local Chinese embassy website. The form should be typed in CAPS and no section should be left unfilled. Sections that are not applicable should be filled with NONE or N/A.
Once you’ve filled the form, append your signature ensuring that it matches that on your passport. For applicants below the age of 18, the form should be signed by the parent or guardian.
- Photo Requirements
Using a paper clip (and not staples), attach at least one color passport photo on your visa application form.
The photo should have been taken within the last 6 months, against a bright solid background preferably white, and should precisely measure 48mm tall * 33 mm wide.
It should also provide a clear, non-smiling frontal view of your head without sunglasses or a hat.
- Proof Of Travel Arrangements
If you’re pressed for time, you can attach a proof of travel arrangements to expedite your student visa application process.
- Submit Your Application
Once you’ve confirmed that you have all your China Student Visa Requirements and documents ready, submit your application to your country’s Chinese embassy or consulate in person. This should include your original passport, Jw-201 & JW-202, admission notice, and a duly completed visa application form.
- Wait For The Results
Usually, most Chinese embassies, consulates or CVASCs will take not more than a week to process your visa application but it’s always advisable to make your application at least one month prior to your travel date to china to avoid any last-minute rush.
- Apply For Your Residence Permit On Arrival To China
Before 30 days elapses after your arrival in China, ensure that you visit a local public security bureau office to apply for a residence permit.
When To Apply For Your Student Visa To China
You should apply for your China Student Visa well ahead of time, preferably one month in advance before your travel date to China but not earlier than 3 months.
How Long Does It Take To Have My Student Visa To China Processed?
Well, this varies from one Chinese embassy to another. However, most of these embassies and consulates are very efficient and will take just 4 days to have your visa processed, unless when this application period coincides with any of the Chinese public holidays.
Here are some tentative processing times for various services offered by Chinese embassies and consulates:
- Regular service: 4 business days
- Express service: 3 business days
- Rush service: 2 business days. This service has an extra surcharge.
How Can I Apply For A Residence Permit For A X1 Visa?
If you’ve been granted an X1 visa, ensure that you apply for a residence permit within one month after your arrival in Chinese soil. This serves as a replacement for your visa while in the country and will be valid for the time granted with the original visa.
The residence permit will allow you to travel freely in and out of the country unlimitedly within the valid period.
NOTE: X2 visa holders are however not eligible to apply for a Chinese residence permit.
Here are a few things concerning your residence permit that you need to know:
- The residence permit allows you to enter and exit China multiple times within its validity period.
- The residence permit is valid for the same time as that of your X1 visa.
- You should report to the local police station whenever:
- A relative visits you
- If you quit the university
- If you drop out of the university
- Staying in china with an expired residence permit attracts a 5-15 days detection and hefty fines of up to $1440.
Documents Required For A Student Resident’s Permit
Here are the documents that you’ll need to present to the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau when applying for the student resident’s permit for the first time.
- A Valid Passport
- Visa Application Form (JW202 or JW201)
- Admission Notice
- Duly filled Health Examination Record for students above 18 years.
- Introduction Letter for Foreign Students issued by the school’s International Students Office
- Temporary Accommodation Registration Form
- Fee for Residence Permit application
Work during Student Visa
One of the common questions we get is if students with the X1 or X2 visa are eligible to work in China.
Unfortunately, you cannot have a full-time job with an X visa. However, you can have some part-time job or off-campus internships but only with special permission and approval from the university and the local Chinese immigration authorities.
In such an arrangement, the University and the hiring company should give you a certification showing that they’ve allowed you to take on the part-time job. The local police station should also mark your visa “part-time-work” to avoid troubles with the authorities.
If you engage in work outside these precincts, you’ll be deemed to have contravened your visa regulations and it shall be considered as unlawful employment. This can lead to expulsion or severe monetary fines.
The Bottom Line?
Unlike yesteryears, china now offers various English language programs that are attracting more international students. There is also a significant increase in the number of scholarships available to international students, making China a highly-persuasive, yet affordable academic destination.
Combine this with the growing ease when applying for student Visa to China, this cultural-rich country easily becomes a favorite destination for numerous international students from the US, UK, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries. If you’re looking to study in a culturally diverse and open country, China is probably on top of your list.
Follow the nuggets in this guide and learn how to apply for a student visa to China and some of the china student visa requirements to help you kick-start your journey to study in china.
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