In navigating the complex world of Chinese visas, the so-called spousal visa is a particularly misunderstood piece of the puzzle. Here, we offer a few points of clarification.

First of all, there is, in point of fact, no such thing as an exclusive ‘spousal visa’ under Chinese immigration laws, but there are some types of visas that also cover spouses within their scope. The Q visa or “Family and Personal Visit Visa” as it’s commonly known, is one of them. The Q visa is slightly different from the S Visa, also known as the “Relatives of Foreigners” visa since the Q visa places special emphasis on the spouses and relatives of Chinese nationals and of those with Chinese permanent residence. The Q visa is also issued to those coming to China for personal purposes such as to initiate the adoption of a child.

There are two types of Q visas. Q1 is a visa for those intending to remain in China for periods of over 180 days. It is usually a single entry visa to be converted to a residency permit within a month of arrival and can be issued for periods of upwards of one year. Q2  is for those intending to remain in China for periods shorter than 180 days. These visas can be single or multiple entry visas. 

Who can apply for a Q-Type Visa?

First things first, same-sex marriage isn’t recognized in China, and as such, spouses under this category would unfortunately not be eligible to apply for this visa.

According to article 6 of Administrative Measures for the Examination and Approval of Permanent Residence of Foreigners in China (外国人在中国永久居留审批管理办法),  the following pGeople may apply for the Q 1 and 2 visa:

  • Family members of Chinese citizens, Family members referring to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters, and parents-in-law.
  • Family members of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence (Greencard).
  • For those who intend to go to China for a family reunion.
  • Those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care.

Applying For a Q-Type Visa

Now comes the application process. And as with any other visa in China, you will need a nice stack of documents to even have your application accepted. 

  • An invitation letter issued by a Chinese citizen or a foreign citizen with a Chinese permanent residence permit who lives in China. The invitation letter should contain:
  • Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
  • Information on the visit (purpose of visit, intended arrival date, place(s) of intended residence, intended duration of residence, arrival and departure dates, relations between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, financial source for expenditures)
  • Information on the inviting individual (name, contact telephone number, address, official stamp, the signature of the legal representative or the inviting individual, etc.)
  • Photocopy of Chinese ID of the inviting individual or foreign passport and permanent residence permit.
  • Original and photocopy of certification (marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by Public Security Bureau or notarized certification of kinship) showing the relationship of family members between applicant and inviting individual.

“Family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law.

It is also important to note that Holders of Q1 Visa shall, within 30 days from the date of their entry, apply to the exit/entry administrations of public security organs under local people’s governments at or above the county level in the proposed places of residence for foreigners’ residence permits.

The S Visa

This visa type of visa is issued to the family members of foreigners living and working in China long term. These foreign residents in China could be on Z or work visas, the X1 or long term study visa, the J1 or long- term journalistic posting visa, and the D visa or the Chinese Greencard.

How To Apply for An S Visa

The application process and requirements are the same for those applying for the S1 visa as for those applying for the S2 visa or short-stay visa which allows a stay of fewer than 180 days.

  • An invitation letter from the inviting individual (a foreigner who stays or resides in China for work or studies) which contains:
    • Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
    • Information on the visit (purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, place of intended residence, relations between the applicant and the inviting individual, financial source for expenditures, etc.)
    • Information on the inviting individual (name, contact telephone number, address, signature, etc.)
  • A photocopy of the inviting individual’s passport and residence permit.
  • Original and photocopy of certification (marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by Public Security Bureau or notarized certification of kinship) showing the relationship of immediate family members between applicants, and inviting individual.

“Immediate family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 and parents-in-law.

However, holders of an R type visas or the Highly Talented or Skilled visa and their family members are not required to apply for an S visa as they are allowed to enter on R visas as well. It is also important to note that there is no provision for same-sex spouses as same-sex marriage is not recognized in China. Such spouses might have to apply for a different visa, for instance, the L or tourist visa.

READ: Return of the Laowai? Europe and BLCU Lay Groundwork for Expat Re-Entry

This article was originally published in our sister magazine, beijingkids.

Images: Unsplash, Kudosbay.com

   

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