View Full Version : Chinese (crew) visa
7th Jun 2012, 06:50
Currently, it seems that all you can get is a crew visa which is valid for 6 months but with only 2 entries. Not helpful at all.
Rumours say that some companies send their crews with tourist visas only with no limitations on the number of entries - and this works just fine.
Any truth to this?
Unfortunately, these are the limitations that China immigration sets. We work with them day in day out.
Unless you are resident in Hong Kong/Macau and are able to get your operator to apply to the CAAC for a special letter of sponsorship, you are very limited in what you can get. Our contractors used to get 3 months/dual entry/30 day crew visas - which really slows things down when you have several sectors in and out of the country in a short space of time.
I am skeptical of using tourist visas for travelling as operating crew - you really need to talk to your handler about this as they will be acting on your behalf 'handling' immigration. You should be able to use the tourist visa to depart or enter the country as pax on a commercial flight/positioning leg, but I haven't heard of anyone using it as operating crew - ever!
7th Jun 2012, 09:21
We used to get a sponsoring letter without being resident in HK/Macau and it never seemed to be a big deal.... That was a few years ago though so not sure how it works today. What I do know is that we have several crew with Chinese visa and I have not heard of any problems lately.
7th Jun 2012, 09:22
You can get a six month or one year multiple entry tourist visa easy as pie. It takes four days to get at your nearest consulate. Better yet, contact G3 Visa, and they will take care of everything, you just smile for the picture, sign the form, and give them your credit card.
Yes, it works fine, no problemo.
jr of dallas
7th Jun 2012, 12:15
And you really fly in china as a crew with a touristic visa...? Bonne chance :ok:
7th Jun 2012, 12:39
And you really fly in china as a crew with a touristic visa...? Bonne chance
That's the point.
A G550 driver told me months ago that their (management) company was doing it exactly this way. But I dunno whether that is still the case.
Just hate to fill that many pages of my passport... :ugh:
7th Jun 2012, 13:40
This is in fact the case in China. You might get a work visa, but that entails loads more paperwork. A tourist visa is the visa du jour. This has pissed off some pilots trying to bring their wife over, as women from some countries can not get a tourist visa for more than 30 days...
Passports do fill up, but if you are flying in/out you often do not get a stamp as you are on the gendec as crew as is also the case in some European countries.
Most all China pilots have had their passport pages extended two or three times (Three is the limit), and have second passports as well.
Hope this helps clear things up.
8th Jun 2012, 00:44
I fly to China on a managed aircraft, and am a resident of HK. We get a company letter to apply for a crew visa and usually get a 12 month, multiple entry, a few of our crew have tourist visa's as well, so that they can fly in commercial to meet aircraft. However, I would not try to enter China as a crew member on a tourist visa, you might get away with it once or twice, but when you don't, you will find there is no room for negotiation and you will be deported or worse, expelled. I have been in and out of China for 7 months and have only used 4 pages of my passport as they are very good at stamping a page till its full. Getting a new passport is a lot easier than finding a new job, especially if you are excluded from flying to China.
8th Jun 2012, 04:10
Getting a new passport is a lot easier than finding a new job, especially if you are excluded from flying to China.
Obviously, that's true.
Can I PM you in order to find out more about your 12-month multiple-entry visa?
8th Jun 2012, 06:02
I don't post much, since it only opens you up to ridicule by the masses, but I'll go out on a limb here. I live in Shenzhen China, and fly out of Hong Kong SAR.
I have two passports and had to add pages already. I have a tourist visa (two actually, since you need one in each passport). I cross the border each flight to get to the Hong Kong airport.
We then fly to China about 30% of the time. My conservative guess is that I have 50 entry stamps from China, many more from Hong Kong, and an equal number of exit stamps... So as an example, when I fly from HK to Beijing, I have collected eight new stamps at the end of the day.
The same is true for each of the other 20 or so pilots here at my company, we all have tourist visas.
As an end note, I haven't seen anyone shot by the border police in over a fortnight, so things are getting better. (Light hearted humor, I've never seen anyone expelled, banned or shunned in China).
Hope this helps
8th Jun 2012, 13:40
I am not sure why G550Bill collects so many stamps other than in and out on ground transportation.
I get an entry and an exit stamp from China on each crew visit. As I live in HK and have a HK ID card I don't get my passport stamped in and out of HK. The same would apply if you are a US citizen and flew from the US to China and back.
Jetopa please feel free to PM me.
jr of dallas
8th Jun 2012, 15:08
B200Drvr thanks for your post. At least some "experienced" pilots on this thread realize now that flying as a crew member to china with a touristic visa is complete non-sense.
For the little information usually you get the multlple entry visa after having held previously one chinese crew visa... For that matter you should have a solid invitation Letter.
11th Jun 2012, 20:23
Been flying in and out of China as crew on a tourist visa, multiple entry...works well
12th Jun 2012, 03:36
I dont mean to sound better knowing, but could one of you guys flying in and out of China without the legal documents (crew visa) kindly explain to me why your operator and yourself accepts this?
Have you/your operator considered to potential consequences if the authorities finds out?
(jail time, finds, refusal of future landing permits, refusal of pilot to re-entry).
China is not United States. China is much more lenient what concerns immigration. They will never give you hassle, unless you have some political agenda. You can even work in China as a pilot on tourist visa. I even told the police, I am working there on tourist visa and they did not care.
I was hassled in the US many times for no apparent reason. So I was apprehensive in the beginning. But China is simple, as long as you do everything according to unwritten rules that work. And one of the rules is: Tourist visa is king!
12th Jun 2012, 08:20
I'm a rather conservative gentleman, so I checked with my friend at the FBO in Hong Kong (there is only one). She said many of the local pilots use tourist visas, and have since she had been there... She wondered what the fuss was about.
12th Jun 2012, 15:32
This is an interesting discussion, to say the least.
I find it hard to comprehend that there are operators out there who are able to have their crews come and go here in China on nothing more than a tourist visa. I have flown in and out of China for the past 6 years, and have always done so on a crew visa, nothing less. Maybe I am a little jealous?!
I suspect that, as is always the case in China, there is more at play here. Perhaps some operators/owners have the 'guanxi' - connections - to make tourist visas work for their crews. If this is the case, then caution is definitely warranted. What works for some may not work for others, and you don't want to press to test China immigration unnecessarily.
I stand by my previous advice - check with your handling agent in China. They will know what is required - and what you can get away with.
I do agree with the comments about US Border Protection... they are far more intimidating than any immigration officials I have encountered in China!
12th Jun 2012, 23:06
As I said in an earlier post, I live and work in China. This thread got me thinking, so I called the office and spoke with the Chinese guy who processes visas for our 100 crew members. He said that the tourist visa is the way they have always done it. You can get a 6 mo visa if you apply in Hong Kong, or a year if they send your passport to the US. They apply for a resident permit nine months to a year after you get there.
The Immigration bureaucrats and border officials would never give special treatment or look the other way to visa applicants or people entering the country. China takes border control seriously. You also have to register each place you stay within China.
And as an end note, I have 12 more visa stamps than I did a few days ago, 6 on each passport.
With all that said, a crew visa would certainly be the safe way to go.
13th Jun 2012, 05:38
I want to add to this conversation.
Just because it has worked so far to fly commercially in and out of China on a Tourist Visa, while working as a crew member, does not make it legal. It just happens to work until someone gets court in the act.
Again will you company/operator be there to bail you out?
The local office chap who uses the argument that this is the way they have always done it, is just lame (the office chap), its not an argument, it a lazy @<hidden> none worrying statement. That same office chap is gonna be "ahhh..so sorry, so sorry la" when the shit hits the fan (which I hope it doesn't!)
13th Jun 2012, 10:07
Well, you're right about that one! It's always the crew that suffers when things hit the fan!!
On the other hand, if everyone is doing it, and it's been done this way for a while, what do you suggest we do about it??
13th Jun 2012, 13:31
Nobody said it would be easy. :ok:
I would definately ask my Chief Pilot about the legality of entering China on a Tourist Visa while arriving as crew and have him/her take responsebility.
Thankfully my company dont play these little games - its all done the legal way. (lucky I guess)
8th Jul 2012, 20:10
Only slightly off topic, but a good story. My Chinese visa was expiring on the 24th of October. I arrived in Macau on the 24th and then flew to Chengdu on the 25th. The immigration man was furious, as I had arrived a day after the expiration date. I calmly and innocently said that I did not understand, as I had arrived yesterday.
He was hopping mad and red in the face, as he could only "get" me, if he insisted that Macau was not China....which would be a dilemma when the Chinese had insisted themselves that Macau and HK were China all along(!)
It was a bit humourous, I must admit and my Chinese host was trying very hard not to laugh out loud and make the immigration man loose face. The end was that they decided to issue me a new visa on the spot, for no fee........
Donīt try this at home, kids!
8th Jul 2012, 20:34
We clearly stated crew and pilot on the visa application and we got back a business visa. Gonna find out tomorrow if the Chengdu officer is in a better mood... ;)