The difference between Tourist Visa, Business Visa and Work Visa in China

Now Shenzhen   |   September 3, 2021

Many foreginers come to China and want to extend or renew their visa and hear the agents’ quotation about tourist visa and business visa, little difference in price of course, and sometimes even share many similarities. For example, you may get multi-entry tourist visa for one year and can stay 60 days or 90 days per entry. And at the same time, one year business visa with the same stay time after each entry is available.

So it makes you cannot help but wonder, what is the difference between tourist visa and business visa, if I can stay the same days after each entry and both valid for one year or two years?

Tourist visa, also called L visa, is for travelling purpose. You go visit beautiful places in China, and get to know historical or natural wonders. If you plan to stay in China for short time and most of the time you will travel and gain personal exotic experiences. That is your choice, the tourist vsia.

Business visa, also called M visa, is for business purpose. For example, you come to attend exhibitions or fairs in China, you visit some factories to check the goods, you come and negotiate with your business partner here, you plan to purchase some products, place some orders, or simply attend some business meetings. Then you can choose business visa.

Compared with Business visa, tourist visa is easier to apply. Expats can just apply from local Chinese embassy, normally they can get 30 days tourist vsia, but difficult to get longer stay time more than 90 days.

Also, tourist visa has its own limitations, you can only use it for travelling purpose, cannot attend economic events or business with it, certainly cannot work in China with tourist visa. Some may argue here that I have been working in China with tourist vsia for a couple of years, nothing happened to me yet. Well, no doubt those people were lucky and irresponsible for themselves and the companies they are working for. Because once the foreigner get caught for working with non-work visa, the employer will need to take the responsibility and pay the penalty. The person himself or herself will leave bad record in Chinese immigration system and will affect his or her stay in China in future.

Besides, many famous international meetings or events require that the expats who attend should hold a business visa or work visa, for those who have tourist visa are not allowed to attend.

Then some might think that business visa is quite useful and seems to be able to cover most activities. Does it mean that foreginers can work with business visa? The answer, of course, is No. You cannot work with business visa in China, no matter what your school or trainning center or company told you that it’s OK to work with business visa, it’s not right. To work legally in China, you will need to apply work visa, formally speaking, residence permit for employment. With work visa, you can work here, get salary here, pay personal income tax, buy social insurance here, and can even purchase property, after several years, can apply Chinese green card. No doubt the best choice for those who plan to stay in China for a long time and with family members.

However, work visa has its own requirements, which means that not anyone can get work visa as they like. The work visa applicant should have proof that he or she is qualified for the job position and has the advantage over Chinese applicants at the same time. Speaking of that, education certificate, skills certificate, job experience are quite important for work visa application.

Some might say that I or my boss started to business a long time ago, they never went to university, but they know better in business, does that mean those excellent doers in business cannot get work visa? Not necessarily, of course. You can invest here in China, start your own company or enterprise, and become the legal representative or shareholer, the application has its own favors over investors in China.

Hope you can find this summary informative and useful to you. Hope you enjoy your stay in China!