Staying in China for a long time without any official reason
September 5, 2006 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Staying in China for 10 months on tourist visas: is it possible? Does the Chinese government impose a limit on the number of tourist visas they'll grant?

I am back home after being in China for 2.5 months on a 90-day L (tourist) visa. I'd like to go back for another 2 months this year and for 6 months next year. Can I keep reapplying for tourist visas indefinitely? Or will they turn down my second or third request?

Would my chances be significantly improved at China's visa office in Hong Kong rather than in Chicago? I'll be in HK next month on my way back to China, but if they happen to reject me, I'm stuck in Hong Kong.

Should I go through a visa agency? Should I keep applying for standard 90-day tourist visas, or should I write an explanation letter of what I'll be doing (just a lot of travel and language learning--no working) and hope to get special treatment? Can I apply (but not enroll) in a univ just to get their letter authorizing me to stay?

If it helps, I am 18, American citizen, clean-cut looking, no public safety issues with my last stay, decent and improving Mandarin, and have enough funds already to stay for this duration.
posted by jbb7 to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Go over to Lonely Planet Thorn Tree's North-East Asia branch. If you can't find the answers in their FAQ, register and post the questions there. [The site seems to be having problems right now; if you can't connect, try later.]
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2006

I've never heard of them refusing multiple tourist visas. I've had several. If you are studying, you are eligible for a business visa, though only if you're going through a licensed school. A uh.. 'guy I know' just got a multiple entry business visa for similar purposes from the consulate in DC, though he was able to produce a business letter guaranteeing support and return airfare.

Anyway, you should be able to get as many visas as you want, as long as you keep out of trouble. I've had uhm... 7 or 8 in the last four years (some tourist, several working, one business), though I've had different passport numbers since I got my passport stolen once.

Get it done in America, the PSB office in HK is uptight as hell, in my experience.
posted by bluejayk at 7:06 AM on September 5, 2006

They now have a multiple entry tourist visa that Americans can get. I think it's good for unlimited entries for a 1 year period.
posted by reverendX at 7:55 AM on September 5, 2006

According to the consulate of China in Chicago webpage concerning L class visas, "validity, duration of stay, and number of entries for each visa is issued at the discretion of the Consular Officers."
posted by holyrood at 8:24 AM on September 5, 2006

Beware of the multiple entry tourist visa. I saw on the website that they were available, but when I had arranged all the forms and got to the consulate, they told me that they don't give multiple entry tourist visas, no explanation. This was about 1 month ago, at the Washington, DC consulate.
posted by bluejayk at 8:51 AM on September 5, 2006

I was issued a one year multiple entry tourist visa at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco a couple months ago without any problem. I've never had an easy time getting Chinese visas in Hong Kong -- they are more expensive, harder to get, and won't issue multiple entry visas every time I've tried there. One important thing to keep in mind is that there is a 30-day limit per entry so you willl have to keep leaving and coming back to China if you've got a tourist visa.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2006

I waited until I was in Hong Kong to get my visa for China. I don't know if my chances were improved. It was just easier, since the turnaround was only a day. There is also a multiple entry visa available. My sister got it easily, again in Hong Kong, in 2 days. It's cheaper in the long-run. As a young tourist, you shouldn't have any problem getting it. Try to have some general destinations in mind, (even if you don're really follow that itinerary.)
posted by typewriter at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2006

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