Assuming that you have prepared all the required documentation needed for your Chinese visa application, all that is left to do is to submit it and wait for the pickup date. Normal processing times for visas usually are not more than a week, and there are even faster options available!
Officially, the normal visa processing time should be 4 business days. In reality, it may extend to 5-7 business days, assuming everything goes well. As passport-pickup can be done either in-person or through post mail-back, keep in mind that shipping/delivery time is not included.
Express and Rush Services
If you require your China visa to be finished sooner than that, there are options in place:
- Express Service: 2-3 working days
- Rush Service: 1 working day
These services are offered with additional fees that vary depending on the country. Note that for rush services, a valid reason will be required, and will not always be accepted by the consular officer. If the service is urgently needed, be sure to have a valid explanation of why, and present any supporting documents that can back you up.
If the rush service is accepted, citizens of some countries may be able to pick up the passport on the same day (considering they apply early before noon of that day), but in most cases, pickup will be on the next day.
Possible Reasons for Delays
There is always the possibility of something unexpected occurring, which may lead to a delay in your visa application. Below are possible factors to consider, in order to help you minimize the chance for any delays.
- The documentation you provided is insufficient, and you are required to provide supplementary material. Depending on the required material, this may cause a delay of a few days.
- The purpose of your visit (based on the information you provide in your itinerary or invitation letter) is unclear or suspicious. In this case, you may be asked to come for an interview at the embassy or consulate.
- In some countries where applications can be submitted by mail, delivery times need to be taken into account.
- Similarly, requesting the completed visa/passport to be mailed back after issuance, will also add a few days to the equation.
For most Chinese visas, much of the required documentation does not require too much time to prepare. Things such as travel itinerary, photocopies of passport pages, and other similar requirements, shouldn't take more than a couple of days to be completed. In such cases, beginning the application process a month in advance should be sufficient.
For Chinese work (Z) visa, however, some of the requirements will take a longer time to be completed. Criminal background checks, health examinations, and other related forms, can sometimes take a few weeks to be received. It is therefore strongly advised to plan ahead, especially if applying for Chinese visas related to employment or business.
Considering that visa applications should be submitted a month before the intended date of arrival, and adding another few weeks to finish preparing all the other special documentation, it means that the whole process should be started at least two months in advance.
Pay Attention to Holidays!
As processing times are counted in working days rather than actual days, take into account not only weekends, but also official public holidays of both your country and China. Most Chinese embassies and consulates abroad will not work in either, so a week-long holiday in your country followed by a week-long Chinese holiday could mean a possible two-week delay in your application!
Always check the working-times and announcements in the official Chinese consular websites of your country to ensure that your visa application does not get delayed by unexpected holidays.