On August 10, Chinese Embassy in Denmark released a notice, saying that foreigners from 36 European countries with valid residence permits are allowed to apply for Chinese visa to enter China.
In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of the announcement effective from March 28, 2020. Meanwhile, foreign nationals traveling to China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergent humanitarian needs may still apply for visas.
As the prevention and control of COVID-19 become regular, in order to facilitate exchanges, China now decides that, foreign nationals from the countries listed below who hold valid residence permits, including work permit, permit for family reunion and personal matters, may apply for visas for free at any Chinese embassy or consulate in these countries. After entering China, they are kindly requested to comply with the epidemic prevention regulations of the local governments.
List of the 36 applicable European countries:
Albania, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Belgium, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom
Definitely, it's good news. However, some critical questions remain:
All the recognized countries are European and they do not include Russia, Ukrainian, Armenia.
2. What does "valid visa" mean?
Obviously, this new policy does not apply to any foreigners who do not have a valid visa, especially those who plan to come to China for the first time. All the residence permits which were issued before March 28, 2020 have been invalidated by the Exit and Entry Bureau. Will the "valid visas" include those which were supposed to be good before the date of issuing of this policy (August 10)?
3. Can you apply for a new visa at the embassy?
Even you have a valid visa, you still need to apply for a one-time tourist visa to re-enter China. It's said you need to make the appointment with the embassy online. It will be very very difficult for you to make the appointment successfully.
4. Can you provide the report of negative nucleic acid test five days before boarding the flight?
Many countries will not conduct the test if you do not show any symptoms and it will take about three business days for you to obtain the report after the test.
5. Can you successfully book a flight?
China's civil aviation regulator adopted a policy capping international flights from March 29. Dubbed the Five-One policy, the rule limits all domestic airlines to one international flight per week to each country, while foreign airlines can fly into China no more than once per week. Therefore the number of international flights is very limited. You might be able to book a ticket after October and the ticket will cost you at least 10,000 RMB one way - now the ticket from any city in the US and Canada to China normally costs 40,000-50,000 RMB! Please also be aware that your flight(s) might be cancelled even when you arrive at the departing airport and the air carriers will not refund, instead they will give you a credit for a ticket for the future use.
6. Can you afford to get back to China?
As mentioned above, the air ticket will cost you at least 10,000 RMB. Now, you are back in China. Congrats!
You are required to enter into quarantine at a designated hotel close to the arrival airport for a period of 14 days, which will cost you at least 500 RMB per day for accommodation and meals, and it will add up to 7,000 RMB.
After the quarantine, you can go back to your home in China. Still, you are required for another 14-day self-isolation at home.
You also need money to pay your rental and your basic necessaries as well after you are out of work for about half a year.
It's still very difficult even this new policy applies to you. Anyway, it's a good step forward.