chinatravelvisa.jpgIn what can only be assumed to be fear over increased problems related to the Olympic games, China has cut off multiple entry travel visas, and limited them to 30 days.

As Journey to Nowhere reports from the SCMP (which stoically continues to charge for online content):

Beijing has stopped issuing multiple-entry visas, risking major inconvenience to foreigners who travel to the mainland regularly, especially on business. Hong Kong travel agents say the ban will stay in place until after the Olympic Games.

Travelers are now restricted to single- or double-entry visas valid for 30 days. Multiple-entry visas that have not expired are still valid.

Andrew Work, executive director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the ban would create serious inconvenience for foreigners living and working in Hong Kong.

“This is a real hassle for foreign small- and medium-sized business owners … it’s bound to slow business down and we hope that normal access to the mainland will be restored soon.”

One travel agent who declined to be named said: “People have been asking to renew their multiple-entry visas but no one can get more than a double-entry visa. We were told this was because of the Olympics and that the ban would be lifted in September after the Games had finished.”

Daryl Bending, of Concord Travel, said even permanent Hong Kong residents who had previously been given three-year multiple-entry visas were affected.

“No one is being given more than a double-entry visa. The reason given was the Olympics but there were suggestions that after the Games things would return to normal,” he said.

Agents said they were told of the move on March 27. Hong Kong-based China-visa agency Forever Bright says on its website the ban will apply until October 17.

The Office of the Foreign Ministry Commissioner in Hong Kong was unavailable for comment.

Mr Work said: “I found out at a chamber meeting for the chairs of all the chambers in Hong Kong. It’s headed by [Chief Secretary] Henry Tang Ying-yen. At the end of the meeting someone mentioned the ban on multiple-entry visas. It took us all by surprise. Even Henry Tang didn’t know.”

A senior source from the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said: “We have got similar complaints and this will hinder business activities.”

A government spokesman said: “The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce recently raised concern about new visa arrangements implemented by mainland authorities and the administration is looking into the matter.”
Travel agents also said the cost of single- and double-entry visas had risen.

The typical cost of a single-entry visa obtained through a travel agent for a British passport holder is now HK$850 for a single-entry visa and HK$1,050 for a double-entry one. At the end of last year, a six-month multiple-entry visa cost HK$1,080.

Australians, Canadians and most Europeans can expect to pay HK$500 for a single-entry visa and HK$600 for a double-entry one. Six-month multiple-entry visas for these nationalities previously cost about HK$450.

Visas are taking longer to process. Paul Porter, a lawyer and regular mainland visitor, said he had been told a visa now takes four days.

Additional Sources Update: April 8th/08


  1. Sometimes I wonder what they were ever thinking when they decided to host the games.

    Surely they knew they were not equipped for such an international event and PR campaign.

  2. Do you know if this also applies to working visas? From what I had heard before it was only for business (F) visas. Do single-entry working visas even exist?

  3. @Sean: No kidding.

    @Turtlewind: These articles all seem to mention travel visas (L-visas), but I had heard the same about F (business) visas. As for work visas, I think you’re alright – as I believe work visas (and by extension student visas) are unlimited entries within the limits of the validity of the visa.

  4. @Turtlewind, one of my coworkers just got his work (Z) visa renewed in Hong Kong, and while the entries are still unlimited for the life of the visa, the increase in processing time still applies — as of last Thursday they were no longer doing same day visas, and he almost got stuck there for a few extra days because of it (much begging and showing of already bought return tickets got them to go on easy on him because the policy had just changed).

    I’m happy to have a nice long-term visa that doesn’t require leaving the country to update…

  5. I just heard a rumor that L and F visas will only be renewed for 1 month increments after July, and then back to 3 or 6 months at some point after the Olympics. Anyone else heard this one?

  6. My co-worker’s husband has to leave China because of the new rules. They don’t seem to care that his wife has a residence permit, that they own a business, and OWN an apartment here. Apparently, the fix should’ve been that they’re married, but the police claim that the marriage certificate is invalid because it wasn’t registered with the Chinese embassy in their home country. And he can’t do the visa run to Hong Kong every month because he’s Iranian and needs a special visa to go there.

  7. I just returned from an AmCham event on this issue. According to the speaker, it looks like the new regulations will last after the Olympics. The Chinese government wants to make sure that all long-term foreigners (Those in the country continually for over 90 days or more than 180 days in a calendar year) are legally working here and paying taxes on their income.

    My advice, if you live here — and aren’t a student get on a residence and a work permit as soon as possible.


  8. Dear Chinese Visa applicants,
    Have you noticed that the visa application fees have been almost doubled recently? Officially, the fee for one entry visa is still $40, but you have to pay $38 to Chinese Visa Service Center (CVSC) to let them hand your application to Consulate-General of The People’s Republic of China.
    Chinese Visa Service Center acts as an agent, but this is the sole agent. There are no competitions and location convenience for the applicants. Besides time delay and cost increase, there is no means of providing better services for visa applicants. You know what? Basically CVSC is formed by a group of families and relatives of the Chinese Diplomatic Officers in Sydney.
    The rapidly growing demands for Chinese visa in Australia means that more money flow into Consulate-General of The People’s Republic of China. Then they can employ more staff to provide better services. The fees can be raised on the base of CPD, but not to be doubled like this.
    We strongly oppose this policy. Hope Consulate-General of The People’s Republic of China will reconsider their visa issue policy.

    Visa applicants

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