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ZhuoMing

Visa expiring, not sure what to do

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ZhuoMing

Currently in China on a tourist visa. I am an American holding the 10 year 60-day per entry tourist visa. I arrived in China on January 19.  On March 1st the Chinese government automatically extended all visas for 60 days, allowing me to stay until around May 17 or so. I was expecting them to add another extension due to the fact that the pandemic is still not over and they have prohibited foreigners from entering, so that would be the reasonable thing to do, but it seems that the government is not planning to do such a thing.  

 

My original plan was to stay in China from January-August, with trips to other countries whenever the visa expires. I would love to do a small trip to HK or Taiwan right now, but that is not possible, since if I leave I can not come back. I am also not even sure where I can go if they do force me to leave.  It seems most countries aren't allowing foreigners to enter. I also can't find flights back to America for under $2,000, so I don't know what the Chinese government expects me to do. I read somewhere that in order to apply for a visa extension you need documentation proving that you have absolutely no choice but to stay, and tickets being extremely expensive is not a valid excuse. I also imagine they aren't very lenient with tourist visas. Is anyone else in the same situation? Anyone have any idea what my chances are for getting a visa extension approved? Also, in case I am really not able to stay, are there any countries that I am allowed to go to with reasonably priced plane tickets? 

 

 

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889

Since you have spent more than 14 days in the Mainland, you can enter Hong Kong through the land border crossing at Shenzhen Bay even though you are not a Hong Kong resident. You will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Hong Kong, probably at your own expense at a hotel, which you should arrange in advance. (Some hotels are offering special quarantine packages). Note the quarantine is a strict one: you cannot leave the confines of your hotel room. Once in HK, you'll be permitted a 90-day stay, no visa required.

 

There may also be a quarantine on domestic travellers arriving in Shenzhen now, I don't know.

 

Of course all this could change tomorrow. In particular, the quarantine requirement for those arriving in HK from the Mainland is scheduled to expire next week. It'll probably be extended, but with some new exclusions.

 

In any event, before planning anything, I'd suggest you head to an office of the PSB Exit-Entry Administration and get the up-to-date rules on the extension.

 

EDIT: As we speak, the HK Government has announced that quarantine rules on arrivals from the Mainland will be extend to June 7, with new exceptions from quarantine for students and certain business travellers. The medical reasoning behind these exceptions is not clear.

 

By the way, unless the rules change, you cannot "transit" Hong Kong to catch an outbound flight without undergoing the 14-day quarantine. So if you find a cheaper flight out of Hong Kong back to the U.S., you'll have to do the 14-day HK quarantine before you can take the flight. Likewise returning to the Mainland (assuming the Mainland starts admitting foreigners again). You can't just turn around at the border and head back to the Mainland: you'll have to undergo HK quarantine first.

 

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abcdefg
9 hours ago, ZhuoMing said:

Also, in case I am really not able to stay, are there any countries that I am allowed to go to with reasonably priced plane tickets? 

 

Where do you usually go for these 60-day "visa stamp runs?" My visa is the same as yours. 

 

When I lived in Kunming I made up a list of places that were about a 2-hour plane ride away, reachable by direct (non-stop) flights. These were the most economical as well as being the most convenient. I'll bet such places would also work for you, flying out of Chengdu instead of out of Kunming. 

 

What I would suggest doing is to sit down with your favorite flight research program and going though logical options in a methodical way. I always liked using ITA Matrix, though may people prefer Google Flights or Skyscanner. Don't purchase a ticket from any of those; buy direct from the airline. Very important NOT to use an OTA (online travel agency) now. Just use it to compile a list of cheap flights to nearby destinations. It should be doable in under an hour. 

 

After you make such a list, then start researching the current quarantine requirements for those countries. In some cases the information will be easy to find, in others it may be obscure or uncertain. 

 

My own list is out of date or I would just paste it in here for you to use. Look at nearby countries: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Hong Kong. In Thailand I often found inexpensive non-stop flights to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Laos, I always checked Vientiane and Luang Prabang. In Cambodia, look at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. In Vietnam, look at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. And so on.

 

For Hong Kong, I always checked domestic flights to nearby "gateway cities" such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai. 

 

The situation is admittedly much more difficult now because travel is restricted and mandatory quarantine may be in place for tourists. It is a real tough time to travel. Wish I could be of more help. I will follow your progress with interest. I want to return to Kunming but I don't know when it will be feasible. 

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889

At the moment, essentially everyplace is closed, one way or another. It's quite a remarkable situation.

 

Apart from a visa extension, if he has another practical option right now other than heading back to the U.S. or the Hong Kong option, I am not aware of it.

 

But it's a waste of time looking for flights to those nearby countries: he won't be able to get in, for one reason or another.

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ChTTay

I’d probably just bite the bullet and head back to the USA. You don’t really have any other options. You could go to HK for the full 90 allowance and hope that, within this time, you’re allowed back into China. However, HK would probably end up being more expensive than going home surely? And there’s no guarantee after 90 days they’d be opening the borders. 

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889

I think his best alternative is to put on a hang-dog face and head to the PSB.

 

image.thumb.gif.6287786da0f2543c7426c930ccca6587.gif

 

He hasn't been refused an extension: he's just afraid he won't get one.

 

Note that at least pre-virus, extension policy seemed to vary across the country. In particular, big cities tended to be more troublesome than small ones. So he should pick his place of application carefully.

 

As well, he should make sure he's staying in places where he's been properly registered. I suspect he'd have more trouble if his lodging for the past few months doesn't show up on the computer.

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ChTTay

Yeah, of course definitelt try the PSB!

 

If they’re not cooperative then ... fly back home. 
 

It’s also worth asking what happens if you cannot physically get a flight because they all get cancelled. Can they give you a short term extension? 
 

I know someone who has attempted to leave Beijing multiple times but the direct flights back home are always cancelled. 

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889

And a warning that flights with transits can be a problem.

 

For example, the search engines may show EVA flights from the Mainland to the U.S. connecting through Taipei, but in fact foreigners cannot transit at present transit Taipei. Or Hong Kong. Etc.

 

A story has just come out that the U.S. may start testing arrivals from high-risk countries. I think we know where Mainland China will fall on that list.

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ZhuoMing

Thanks for all the help guys. I'm gonna head to the PSB tomorrow with my best hang-dog face and beg for an extension. I'll post an update here with my results.

3 hours ago, 889 said:

In particular, big cities tended to be more troublesome than small ones. So he should pick his place of application carefully.

Do you suggest I go to a office in a smaller city instead of the big one in the center of Chengdu? 

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889

For many years, there have been reports that Leshan is a friendlier place to get an extension than Chengdu. I do not know if this is still the case: you might do a web search. But if you head to Leshan, you will have to first check-in at a local hotel and stay there for about a week while the extension is processed. In any event, no harm at all just heading to the Chengdu PSB tomorrow and making some enquiries.

 

You'll also have to check carefully the starting date of the extension. And whether it cancels your existing 10-year visa.

 

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ZhuoMing
17 minutes ago, 889 said:

In any event, no harm at all just heading to the Chengdu PSB tomorrow and making some enquiries.

Thanks. I'll do that, and if it fails I can give Leshan a shot before figuring out my escape plan... 

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xinoxanu

The Chengdu PSB is "tougher" than it used to be - more or less since 2 years ago, when they changed the top management. Better trained and I don't think nowadays they do "pity" anymore.

 

Perhaps Leshan is a better shot and you manage to bypass someone that doesn't really want to do the extra paperwork or look to much into details. Difficult to say since due to the ongoing situation they are definitely keeping tabs on all of us.

 

On a more cheerful note, definitely eat 钵钵鸡 or Leshan barbecue if you haven't already. Hotels around the college are clean, nice and cheap.

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abcdefg

Very worrisome situation! Wish you the best of luck, @ZhuoMing. Please do keep us posted; will be following your progress with interest. I got out of Kunming at the end of January. Even then it was difficult and required some fancy footwork. Am now in the U.S.  

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roddy

Thanks for the update. Sounds like they're fairly relaxed about it - chances are they're seeing plenty of the same request. 

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889

I know you're anxious, but why not wait till as close to the 18th as reasonably possible and, as she suggested, maximize the extension? Doesn't sound like there's any uncertainty, just a question how long an extension you'll get. Normally extensions on tourist visas are 30 days, and under the law -- unless it's somehow been waived during the crisis -- your total extensions can't exceed your initial permitted stay, 60 days. So don't waste part of your extension by getting it too early since it's unlikely to be generous.

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mackie1402
5 hours ago, ZhuoMing said:

The lady told me that I can extend, but I shouldn't do it today. She recommended that since my visa expires on 5/18, I should do the extension closer to my expiration date to maximize the extension.

 

Yeah the PSB in Hangzhou do the same. I used to get worried about renewing my spousal visa every year, and they just said "Just come in on the last day of your visa, it's fine. As soon as we put it into our system that you are in the application process, you can't overstay." So now, I just renew a day or two before. Otherwise I was having to renew every 10 or 11 months, instead of every year! In fact, the last time I applied, I did it on the last day and they said I had the wrong health certificate which they couldn't accept, but they said it's fine because my application process has begun. They said I could just bring the right health certificate in within a week or so and it'd be fine, which it was! 

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ZhuoMing
46 minutes ago, 889 said:

Normally extensions on tourist visas are 30 days, and under the law -- unless it's somehow been waived during the crisis -- your total extensions can't exceed your initial permitted stay, 60 days.

Hopefully that rule is waived because I will be will exceeding 60 days of extension.

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abcdefg
On 4/28/2020 at 5:42 AM, ZhuoMing said:

I also can't find flights back to America for under $2,000, so I don't know what the Chinese government expects me to do.

 

It looks like the prices drop a lot in June. (These are CTU to LAX from ITA Matrix.) 

 

image.thumb.png.1fd501f2353366b856f9719289747582.png

 

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Dawei3

While I can't offer advice on visas, I can offer a positive note:  I was talking with a friend about my annual teaching trip in October.  I said it wouldn't be practical if I need to spend 2 weeks in quarantine.  

 

She noted that the new policy is :  if a person tests negative for the virus, no quarantine is needed.  I haven't checked if this is indeed the policy and she noted it's constantly changing. 

 

However, what she said makes sense:  China doesn't want to stop tourism & business.  Having people tested makes much sense.  (I'm saying this without: 1)  knowing how difficult is it to get tested and 2) the # of false positives the testing gives).  It also fits with the theme above, i.e., someone recommending you wait until right before you need to renew your visa.  That many in China are looking for practical approaches for dealing with the virus.  

 

 

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