Visa Support Group


OK, I am just putting this thread out there so folks can have a place to land if they get confusered or stymied over the visa process. I have never been to Asia, so I’m new to all of this. I am located in NYC, and I will be diving in the deep end on Monday, the 30th of July. I will update this thread as I go. Fun Stuff!

For people in the U.S. who don’t live in one of the embassy cities, I just went through the process, but not living near one of the embassies, I used this service: I sent in the paperwork on Monday last week and got mine back in two weeks.

we just realised that the simple tourist visa is good for 3months from the date you receive it, so maybe better wait a few weeks??

50 days before the trip, about mid august, was one recommendation…

Looked into that and they seem pretty legit. for US passport and tourist visa They need:
Passport (and copy of picture page)
Round Trip Ticket
Hotel reservation
and then of course about $200 for consulate and service fees.

Hey, for me all this is also new… I asked a Swiss travel agency in Geneva (Tian-Tan, has been recommended to me) and they charge 165 CHF (ca. 145 EUR) for their Chinese VISA service. Is that within normal ranges? (minus some Swiss excess :). Has anyone experience with cheaper online services within Europe?

From what I understood, we cannot go with the special Visa on Arrival (available only at the Hong Kong - Shenzhen border) because it is only valid for 5 days which is too short. We would need to exit and re-enter I believe (if that is even allowed on the same day). Also, when taking the ferry directly from Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen/China mainland as suggested in the FAQ, this special Visa on arrival for Shenzhen might not be available via the ferry terminal (couldn’t find a definite answer on this one) .

You could compare with how much it would cost to send it directly to the embassy (or rather their outsourced provider), here is the site for that:

The second point is correct - we don’t recommend a VOA if you plan to stay for the whole of GOSH and I think they would notice same day re-entry. The visa on arrival is available at Shekou Port but not all day (and there is no definitive answer on times or indeed anything to do with the details of the VOA).

@dusjagr has been to Shenzhen before and may have more knowledge of the Swiss prices and system!

I’m flying from Newark, NJ to Hong Kong and then doing the ferry to get to Shenzhen. I thought I read somewhere that you have to list multiple points of entry on the VISA application. I’m confused whether Hong Kong counts as one and then Shenzhen another? Is anyone else facing a similar issue?

Hey Leslie,

As far as I know, it shouldn’t be an issue since you are technically not leaving the airport to get the ferry, therefore you do not require visa access into Hong Kong. I’m also sure that US citizens have three months of visa-free stay in HK. I think it should be fine, however if you are still unsure, I would call the consulate directly. I am from the UK so I do not know how if my visa process was different to yours; for the record I can’t recall having such issues, but I would double check to make sure.


To add to @besarzasella’s comment - Hong Kong has its own immigration process so even if you do pass Hong Kong immigration and don’t take the direct airside ferry transit, entering Shenzhen will be your first point of entry into China for the purposes of a Chinese visa.

Note this has implications for anyone considering a day trip to Hong Kong while staying in Shenzhen because you’ll be leaving mainland China and won’t be allowed back if you only have a single entry visa!


I’m flying to Beijing and then to Hong Kong. So, they don’t count Beijing Airport as an entry, right?

According to the China embassy website, transits through mainland China are not considered an entry:

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So I went to NY to apply for my type F VISA today (Non-Business) and it was not accepted. I had prepared very well, but since I’m self employed they asked for an additional letter on letterhead from my company with the following:
nature of organization
verify profit or nonprofit
verify gov’t or non-gov’t
verify position in company
purpose to China
signature of legal representative

So my concern is that really what my company does has nothing to do with my visit. I think they are trying to make sure I’m really not doing business. I’m actually at the conference because of my volunteer work with Public Lab. People at the windows don’t answer questions and neither NY or DC consulate answers their phone for questions (at least they didn’t today). It was really sad since I’m coming from Philly and there is not any place on the consulate websites where they mention such a letter. I don’t know if anyone else is running into this issue, but I thought I would just put it out there as a warning. It is definitely worth the money for a third party to do the filing if you don’t live in a state with a consulate.

I followed @shannond advise and went with and it was pretty straight forward. You have to mail your passport to them, which feels a little weird, but it came back with the visa glued in alright.
Their checklist is pretty thorough, and using the invitation letter from GOSH I was able to get an F type visa and it didn’t take long. Definitely there’s time to process via uschinavisa, but it’s getting closer every day.