In a couple of weeks, I’m visiting my best friend, Camila, who moved to Shanghai for work two years ago. I’m super excited to finally visit! What was not exciting was having to secure a Chinese visa.
I’m lucky enough to live in New York City, where the Chinese Consulate is located (if you don’t, you must mail in your application). While attempting to hand in my paperwork, I was turned away twice for missing document or mistakes. Some details I overlooked but it was surprising to learn that I had to bring a letter from work even though it wasn’t a business trip. I was also turned away at the door because my visa application needed to be typed, not written (take note). To save other travelers some time and mulitple trips, I’ve included a list of materials needed to secure your Chinese visa.
The Chinese Consulate is located at 520 12th Avenue NY, NY 10036
Chinese Visa Documents:
Chinese Visa Application (remember, it HAS to be typed)
Photocopy of your passport
Invitation letter (you do not need a letter if you prove you are going for tourism by providing proof of hotel/Airbnb Stay)
Passport of person inviting you
Visa/residence information of person inviting you (you do not need this if you are going for tourism)
2 photocopies of your Driver’s License (or State ID)
Copy of your flight reservations in and out of China
if you work at a non-profit: letter from your place of employment stating that they are a non-profit (even if you are not going on a business trip)
if you are staying at a hotel/AirBnb: hotel/Airbnb itinerary and receipt (just in case)
Passport (valid for 6 months with empty pages)
The visa process involves the Consulate holding your passport for a couple of weeks. It’s scary to not have your passport in your possession for a couple of day/weeks, but you can’t get around it unfortunately.
Chinese Consulate Process
The Chinese Consulate is open for visa processing Monday – Thrusday between 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. I visited the Consulate at different times and it was a pretty quick process no matter when I went (up to 20 minutes).
Once you go through security, you’ll speak to a representative that will double check your documents. If you’re missing something, they’ll let you know to come back; if you have all of your paperwork you’ll recieve a number and wait to be called. I waited not even a minute! You’ll receive a yellow receipt and someone from the Consulate will call when your passport with your visa in it, is ready to be picked up (this is when your passport will be taken from you).
If you don’t live in New York City, begin your visa process as soon as possible!
The cost of your visa will depend on how long you’re planning on visiting China. The cost of a single entry visa for up to three months is $140 dollars. You are able to pay by Mastercard or Visa/money order/check at the Consulate after your visa is processed.
Number of Entry
|U.S. Citizen||Non-U.S. Citizen*|
|Multiple Entries for 6 Months||$140||$60|
|Multiple Entries for 12 Months or more||$140||
*visa cost varies for non-citizens
How long does your visa take to process?
On the Chinese Consulate website, it says that the visa will take 3-4 days to process (which is why I took my time to secure it – not a smart move). The representative though, informed me that the visa will take 2-3 weeks to process. It took me off guard, but she sounded confident that I’d receive my passport before my trip. To be fair, I’m having my visa process during a busy travel season so thereare probably a lot more people to process.
Lesson of the day: don’t wait until last minute to secure your visa!