Many of our Global Business Journalism students and faculty have had their visas or other official government documents expire while they are away from China during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the situation is complicated, Tsinghua University is trying to help all of us deal with the situation, so we can return to China smoothly after the global risk abates. Chengzhang Li shares with us the latest information from the International Student Visa Affairs office:
The National Immigration Bureau has adapted its policies for the duration of the outbreak period. If it is difficult to leave the country at your scheduled time due to epidemic prevention and control – and visa and residence permit extension procedures cannot be processed in a timely manner – the immigration management agency may request, reduce or exempt the penalties for overstaying one’s visa.
If it is not possible to apply for an extension in areas outside Beijing, according to the Immigration and Entry & Exit authorities, the period of residence of foreigners in China can be automatically extended for two months during the epidemic prevention and control period. During this period, foreigners will not need to apply for extension, and they can reside in China legally or leave the country normally.
Q: Does this mean I don’t necessarily have to extend my visa for the time being even if my visa expires?
A: If circumstances permit, the International Students & Scholars Center recommends that students extend their visas and not to let them expire. For example, students living on campus may apply for an extension through the visa agency. Students facing special circumstances can contact the International Students & Scholars Center for assistance (Tel: 010-62784857, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: During the prevention and control period of COVID-19, what should students outside of China do?
A: Students outside of China should be pay attention to the university’s notices and not return to Beijing or return to university unless notified to do so. After the university releases its official notice for when students can return to university, students whose visa will expire before or upon arrival to university should contact the International Students & Scholars Center in advance to issue new hard copy visa application materials. The new hardcopy visa materials are usually completed within five working days, depending on the situation.
Q: Is it possible to apply for a student visa for entry into China at the moment?
A: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Tsinghua has notified students of the university requirements for them not to return to Beijing or return to university, teaching and learning will be through online platforms. We recommend that students not apply for a student visa and wait for further notice from the university.
Q: What should (enrolled) students currently in other cities in China, who are unable to return to Beijing, do if their visa is about to expire? What materials are needed to extend their visa?
A: Students should contact the Immigration Authority of the city in which they are currently situated to apply for visa extension. Any questions should be directed to the International Students & Scholars Center. Working hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., China time, on weekdays (Tel: 010-62784857, email: email@example.com). When applying for visa extension at a local immigration authority (excluding Beijing), generally students will be issued with a private matter visa or a residence permit for visiting relatives depending on their specific situation. Students should consult their local immigration authority for details. If it is not possible to apply for an extension in areas outside Beijing, according to the Immigration and Entry & Exit Authorities, during the epidemic prevention and control period, the period of residence of foreigners in China can be automatically extended for 2 months. During this period, foreigners will not need to apply for extension, and they can reside in China legally or leave the country normally.
Q: How can I apply for a visa extension if I am currently in Beijing and am already an enrolled student?
A: For students currently in Beijing and who are already enrolled, they should consult the International Students & Scholars Center of Tsinghua University for a visa extension. Working hours are 8:00-17:00 on weekdays (Tel: 010-62784857, email: firstname.lastname@example.org). The center will assist you in finding solutions appropriate your circumstances.
Q: Who should I contact for questions regarding international student visa issues?
A: Students should consult the International Students & Scholars Center during working hours 8:00-17:00 on weekdays by phone (010-62784857) or email, email@example.com.
Q: During the epidemic, where should I register for my Registration Form of Temporary Residence?
A: Students living on campus still need to register at the general service desk of Bldg. 19, Zijing Apartments. Students living off-campus should go to the police station in their area of residence to register. Students facing special circumstances can contact the International Students & Scholars Center for assistance.
Q: During the COVID-19 epidemic, will the Tsinghua visa agency be on call to assist students with visa services?
A: Yes, every Tuesday from 13:00 to 15:00, the visa agency representative will be at the International Students & Scholars Center to assist with urgent visa matters. Due to the outbreak, movement and going out, including going to the visa office, should be kept to a minimum. If you have questions, you are welcome to contact Mr. Zhao (Tel: 13811959706). Q: What materials are needed to apply for a visa?
A: For details on visa application, please refer to the corresponding tab on the International Students & Scholars Center’s website:
Q: If a visa requires a medical examination in China, where can I get it done during the prevention and control period of COVID-19?
A: During this time, the Haidian branch of the Beijing International Travel Healthcare Center (10 Dezheng Road, Haidian District, Tel: 010-82403675) will only provide certification services for already completed medical examination reports. Students in need of a medical exam should go to the Beijing International Travel Healthcare Center (20 Hepingli North Street, Dongcheng District, Tel: 010-64274239).
Q: During the epidemic, if I apply to suspend my studies, what should I do while/if my visa is still valid?
A: Contact the International Students & Scholars Center to determine whether or not visa termination procedures are needed based on how much longer the visa is valid.
Q: If I have officially suspended my studies and now want to apply to resume my studies, how do I do so during the epidemic?
A: During the outbreak period, students should contact the academic affairs teacher of your department for the required application procedures. Upon resuming one’s studies, the student should undertake courses via the school’s online education platform. At present, students are not allowed to return to Beijing or return to school. After the school releases its official notice for when students can return to school, the student should contact the International Students & Scholars Center to confirm and verify visa related matters. Q: What should I do if my passport expires during this time?
A: International students should first apply for a new passport at their respective nation’s embassy in China, and then contact the International Students & Scholars Center to handle visa related issues.
Q: For new international students who are due to enroll at the university starting in the spring semester of 2020, is the university able to process visa applications, visa extensions, or residence permit procedures?
A: Now that teaching and learning will be through online learning platforms, Tsinghua currently does not accept the changing of X1 study visas into residence permits, or visa renewals or extensions. The same policy applies to the adding of entries for X2 student visas and other visa-related procedures. Students who have already entered China must communicate with their program director or staff member in charge to determine the right form of visa application.