China Visa for US Passport Holders and US Citizens – How to Apply from the United States(USA)
In this article learn more about how to apply for China Visa from USA, application process at Chinese embassy in Washington, Chinese consulate in Chicago, Chinese consulate in New York, Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, Chinese consulate in San Francisco, Chinese consulate in Houston, Processing time at the China visa application center, China Visa Application Process for US or American citizens, itinerary or round trip air ticket booking or flight reservation, Chinese visa types, insurance, Hotel reservation or proof of accommodation.
China is such a fascinating country, it’s no wonder that many people go there every year to discover what the country has to offer. There are lots of exciting things to see – the Great Wall or the Terracotta Army. There’s plenty to do too – try hiking in the mountains or, if you’re more of a city person, take a walk through the many parks or lose yourself among the pulsating streets where you can try delicious cuisine or simply watch the world pass you by!
Applying for China visa from the United States
If you are planning on visiting China and you are either a US citizen or a US passport holder, then you need a visa to be able to enter the country.
To make your China visa application, you need to apply at a Chinese Embassy or Consulate located in the US. There are 6 Chinese missions in the United States and they each have their own consular jurisdiction:
Chinese Embassy in Washington – Washington DC, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
Consulate in New York – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont
Consulate in Chicago – Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin
Consulate in San Francisco – Alaska, Northern California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington
Consulate in Los Angeles – Arizona, Southern California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Pacific Islands
Consulate in Houston – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas
The office you need to apply to is the one which covers the area where you live. Take a look at the jurisdiction map on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Washington:
Types of visas for China
The most popular type of visa is category “L” which relates to tourist purposes, but you may be traveling to China for another reason, such as employment or on an exchange visit. Whatever your reason for visiting China, you must choose the correct one:
- D – Permanent residence in China
- F – Exchanges, visits, study tours, and other non-business activities. Issued as single or double entry
- G – Transit through China en route to your final destination
- J1 – Foreign journalists stationed in China (180 days or more)
- J2 – Foreign journalists who intend to engage in short-term news coverage in China (up to 180 days)
- L – Tourism purposes. Issued as single, double, or multiple entry for a maximum stay of 30 days
- M – Commercial or trade activities. Issued as single, double, or multiple entry
- Q1 – Family reunification with Chinese citizens or foreigners with Chinese permanent residence for 180 days or more. Issued as single entry.
- Q2 – Family reunification with Chinese citizens/foreigners with permanent residence up to 180 days. Issued as multiple entry
- R – Professionals whose skills are urgently needed in China
- S1 – Dependents under the age of 18 or parents-in-law of someone who is working or studying in China OR to those who intend to go to China for other reasons for 180 days or more. Issued as single entry.
- S2 – Dependents under the age of 18 or parents-in-law of someone who is working or studying in China OR those who intend to go to China for other reasons up to 180 days. Issued as multiple entry
- X1 – Study for 180 days or more. Issued as multiple entry
- X2 – Study up to 180 days. Issued as single entry
- Z – Employment in China. Issued as single entry only
China visas are usually issued as:
- Single entry – valid for 3-6 months
- Double entry – valid for 6 months
- Multiple entry – valid for 6 or 12 months
Once your visa is approved, you must use it before it expires at the end of the 3, 6, or 12 month period. If not, you won’t be able to use it and you will have to apply for a new China visa. Further information about types of visa can be found on the website of the embassy or consulate you are using:
Applying for China visa from the United States
The Chinese Embassy and the Consulate Generals in the US, aim to process China visa applications within 4 working days. There is an express (2-3 days) and rush service (1 day) available which would mean your visa could be processed quicker, but not all of the visa offices do this. If they do, these services are usually only available in extreme emergencies and they must be approved by the consular officer.
Please note, your application could take longer to process than the timescales mentioned above. This depends on the type of visa you are applying. It’s best to apply at least 1 month before your trip so there is enough time for your application to be processed. Applications can be submitted up to 3 months ahead, however, be careful, you don’t want your visa to expire before you have the chance to use it.
Once you know which embassy or consulate you need to apply for, you should spend time looking at their website so you understand what the process is and what the requirements are. Once you’ve done this, you will need to complete your application form:
Complete your application form
You can find the application form on the website of the embassy or consulate you are dealing with:
You must complete your application form by downloading it onto your personal computer and typing the information before printing it. The embassy and consulates do NOT accept handwritten forms, so if you don’t submit a typed form, your application will be rejected.
Get your documents ready
Once you’ve completed your application form, it’s time to get your supporting documents ready. You must provide the embassy or consulate with everything they need in order for your China visa application to be processed. Missing information and/or documents will result in a refusal of your application.
In addition, your documents should be originals, but you must also provide photocopies of everything. If you don’t, your application won’t be accepted, so remember to do this.
Spend time looking at the respective websites of the embassy or consulates before you start to prepare your paperwork, so you understand what the requirements are:
1) Passport with at least 1 blank page and at least 6 months remaining
2) Photocopy of the passport’s data and photo pages (if separate)
3) Visa application form – completed in full, signed. Not handwritten. Typed applications only!
4) 1 x photo on a light background. Please see the full requirements for acceptable photos
6) Invitation letter with Chinese host’s ID plus information about the applicant and host, and itinerary while in China
7) Proof of legal status (non-US applicants) such as proof of residence and employment, student, or another status
8) Previous Chinese passport and/or Chinese visa (if applicable)
9) Confirmation of foreigners permanent residence status (if applicable)
10) Letter of guarantee issued by the relevant company
11) Onward travel ticket to the destination country (if transiting)
12) Visa notification letter and an official letter issued by the relevant authorities (if applicable for journalists)
13) Proof of family kinship and passport of host – birth/marriage certificate etc.
14) Consent of parents with ID (for minors)
15) Documents to prove permanent residence in China (if applicable)
16) Evidence of skilled talents issued by the relevant authority
17) Admission notice (for students)
18) Evidence of permission to work and/or work permit
If you’re planning to obtain your flight reservation for visa without paying for the ticket, all you have to do is follow the 3 simple steps below:
- Visit the Visa Reservation website to choose the right package
- Submit the travel details and make the payment online
- Receive flight itinerary in email
Submit China visa application
When you submit your application to the respective embassy or consulate, all you need to do is visit the office during their opening hour and hand over your file.
Please note, none of the visa offices accept applications by mail, fax, or online. You must submit your file in person, or someone else can submit it on your behalf.
- Washington – Monday to Friday, 9.30 am – 2.30 pm for submissions; 9.30 am – 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm for pick ups
- New York – Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 2.30 pm
- Chicago – Monday to Friday, 9.30 am – 12.00 pm and 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
- San Francisco – Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 2.30 pm
- Los Angeles – Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 2.00 pm
- Houston – Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 11.30 am and 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm
When you arrive at the embassy or consulate, you will hand over your application and supporting documents to the visa official. Don’t forget anything because your application won’t be accepted and this could delay your travel plans.
The consular staff may ask you additional questions if they need any more information from you. If they do, just answer them politely, to the point and remain calm. Typical questions could be:
- What are your plans when you are in China?
- What is your salary?
- Are you married?
- Have you been to China before?
- What is your job in the US?
You will also pay the relevant fee for your visa. You can usually pay by credit card (Visa and MasterCard only), money order or cashier’s check or company check payable to “Chinese Embassy” or to “Chinese Consulate in XXXXXX” depending on where you are applying.
The fee is paid when you go to collect your visa. You will not be able to collect your passport until this fee is paid and it will not be refunded, even if your application gets refused.
Please note, these fees may be different depending on your nationality, so check with the embassy or consulate.
China Visa Fee
Number of entries
Multiple entry for 6 months
|Multiple entry for 12 months or more||$140|
- Express service: an additional fee $25 per visa
- Rush service: an additional fee of $37 per visa
You may also have to provide biometric data in the form of a scan of your fingerprints and a digital photo.
Receive Chinese visa
The Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Consulates in the US do NOT return passports by mail, so you have to return to the office to collect it when a decision has been made about your visa.
When you submitted your application, you would have been given a pick-up form which specifies the date you can collect your passport. Keep this slip safe as you need to hand it over when you return to pick your passport up.
When you have paid the fee, you can collect your passport and you should find your new China visa inside. However, there are many instances when visa applications get rejected. Hopefully, your application won’t be among them. Some common rejection reasons are:
- Flight booking not included
- The application form has been handwritten
- Reason for the trip is not clear
- Employment approval letter not included
- Passport has been damaged
First of all, you cannot submit a damaged passport. If your passport has missing or loose pages etc., you must get a new one before you can apply for your China visa. You must include evidence of why you are traveling to China, as well as a flight booking, and an employment approval letter, if this is applicable to your type of visa. Also, make sure you submit a typed application form because handwritten forms are not acceptable.
Contact details of the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the US
Chinese Embassy in Washington DC
Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110, Washington, D.C. 20007
Telephone: (202) 337-1956
Fax: (202) 588-9760
Chinese Consulate in NYC, New York
Address: 520 12th Avenue, New York, NY, 10036
Telephone: (212) 244-9392, (212) 244-9456
Fax: (212) 465-1708
Chinese Consulate in Chicago
Address: 1 East Erie Street, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60611
Chinese Consulate in San Francisco
Address: 1450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles
Address: 3rd Floor, 500 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Chinese Consulate in Houston
Address: 3417 Montrose BLVD, Houston, Texas TX 7700
Telephone: 832-240-3780, 713-527-8954
1) I live in the United States, do I need a visa for China?
Citizens and nationals from the US who are in possession of a US passport need a visa for China
2) Why are there so many types of visas for China?
The categories of visa available are there to take account of an applicant’s reason for traveling to China
3) Where do I apply for a China visa?
You can apply for a China visa from the embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over the area where you live
4) Can I apply for my China visa online?
No. You must submit all the required documents to the embassy or consulate in person
5) Do I need an appointment to visit the Chinese embassy or consulate?
No. All you need to do is visit the embassy or consulate during their opening hours
6) When can I get my visa after I have submitted my application?
Normally, your visa application will take around 4 working days to be processed, so you can pick your visa up on the 4th day after you submit your application. There may be express and rush services available, but you need to seek approval from the embassy or consulate you are dealing with
7) How long can I stay in China on my tourist visa?
On a tourist visa, the maximum amount of days you can stay in China is usually 30 days. However, 60 or 90 days can be requested
8) Do I need to send my original passport when I apply?
Yes. The embassy or consulate needs your original passport to process your visa application and to attach your visa onto it
If you are a US passport holder or a US citizen there are just a few things to need to do in order to apply for your China visa from the United States:
- Select the correct visa office
- Complete your application form
- Get your documents ready
- Submit China visa application
- Receive Chinese visa
Before long, you’ll be jetting off to one of the most fascinating and exciting countries in the world!
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