Passport and Visa Requirements to Travel to China for US Citizens
US Citizens that wish to travel to China must be aware and knowledgeable about all the requirements that are imposed in order to enter any city in China via any form of transportation as well as the requirements that are imposed in exiting China as well as their purposes of visiting that country during their period of stay. The first step that must be done in order to initiate the desired travel plans is to obtain a US Passport via any passport agency that are usually located within most metropolitan areas around the 50 states and territories.
The process of obtaining a US Passport can be effectively done very quickly at the passport agency or via mail. All the needed documents must be presented and several fees must be paid in order to obtain the passport with expedited services usually charging extra fees for this level of convenience. US Passports for adults are biometric, have 10 year validity and consist of 32 pages in total. The next step is to understand the process of obtaining a Chinese visa in order to enter China. If you are planning to travel to China for a vacation or simply for pleasure purposes, you will need to obtain a visitor/tourist visa from the Chinese Embassy or consulate within the United States. It is important to note that US Citizens cannot freely travel to China without a visa; a visa is required for any kind of planned activity for any type of US Citizen.
Obtaining a Chinese visa is not an extremely challenging process but it does take some considerable time to be effectively done. Since most US Citizens live outside of the Washington D.C. Area, the city where the Chinese embassy is located, it is required for US Citizens to send their passports via regular mail to their nearest Chinese Consulate in order to obtain the visa.
Proper documentation and payment in the forms of money orders is required in order to initiate the process of obtaining a visitor visa. If you are planning to visit China for pleasure, it is required to present a valid US passport with at least 6 months of validity, a letter addressed to the consulate general requesting the visa, your planned itinerary airline ticket, along with some other documentation and proof of sufficient funds to cover your expenses in China. These funds can be presented in the form of bank account statements, proof of income such as tax forms, properties, assets, companies, credit cards or cash. Keep in mind that other types of visas such as work visas and student visas require different types of documentation and different fees.
Once the passport has been sent, the consulate general will receive your application, review the information and submit your visa depending upon your request. You have the right to request a visa consisting of one-year validity, single-entry visa, or a multiple-entry, one-year validity visa. Fees for multiple-entry visas with longer periods of validity usually involve more fees and their approval is entirely at the sole discretion of the consulate general.
If your visa is approved, you will be contacted by the consulate general personally and you will receive your passport with your new Chinese visa via regular mail. It is important to consider that your requested type of visa along with all the attributes will not always be approved by the consulate general for a wide variety of reasons. If it is not approved, you can follow up with extra documentation in order to comply with all the requirements imposed by the immigration laws of China.
When you arrive to China with your new visa, you will be allowed to stay in the country for the given duration of time placed on your visa and for the given purpose. If you travel as a tourist, you cannot work or establish permanent residence in China. You can opt for extending your visa depending upon its condition in China but the process has been somewhat challenging for most visitors and somewhat ineffective. If you overstay your visa in China, you will not be allowed to depart the country after the exit requirements have been satisfied. You must leave China in good standing with their immigration laws and have the proper documentation in place to your next destination or to your return to the United States.
Immigration policies in China are strictly enforced and the system within the country is highly bureaucratic and can become a costly affair if you do not comply with all the laws and regulations. Arriving in China without a valid visa or passport is an offence and you will be fined and put in a list of deportation until you arrive with the proper documents. Overstaying your visa in China is also a criminal offence where you can be detained, fined and deported back to the United States.
No matter what are your purposes of visiting China, always ensure to travel with all the necessary documents in place in order to avoid any kind of wrongdoing and an unpleasant travel experience.