Note: From January 1st 2013, visitors from 45 countries are allowed to stop over in Beijing and Shanghai up to 72 hours without applying a visa. The visitors are required to hold the visa and connecting air tickets to a third country. A transit stay permit will be granted upon their arrival in the Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport and Shanghai Hongqiong Airport, and the 72 hours starts to be counted from the moment.
A visa is the remark, annotation or seal of approval on a legal and valid passport or other travel credentials of a foreign or domestic citizen, which is issued by the international representative of a sovereign government, an Embassy or Consulate. It is a necessary legal requirement indicating that you are permitted to enter and exit that country's frontier, also we may say, it is an annotating-like proof of legal entry.
All the countries in the world have their own special organizations for visa issuing. Generally speaking, the organizations for issuing the passport and visa are the same one for a country. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies/consulates or the specially-authorized organizations stationed abroad are all the legitimate organs for issuing the visa.
The immigration offices or police stations also are the issuing organizations in some countries. The official responsibility of the visa issuing organizations is to issue, cancel or refuse a visa application, or announce the invalidity of all visas issued.
Based on different reasons of entering or departing the country, visas are generally divided into 6 categories: departure, entry, transit, and again-entry visa, visa for leaving first and then reentering, for entering first and then leaving.
Some countries (regions), according to different purposes for entry, classify the visa into many kinds like the diplomatic, official, immigrant, non- immigrant, courteous reception, tourist, work, study and business visas as well as the household visa and so on.
Now, there are four categories of visa are issued in China: the diplomatic, courteous reception, official business and standard visa.
Four Kinds of Visa
Countertendency Visa: It is issued by immigration organizations or departments who are responsible for the management of entering and/or leaving a country, is a kind of proof of approval to issue a visa to the applicant. After the applicant is issued a countertendency visa, he still need to visit the embassies or consulates of his target country stationed abroad to transact the visa. Some countries stipulate that the applicant can handle the visa upon arrival at the port of his destination country.
Transit Visa: If you need to stop over a third country via any transportation vehicle on your way to your target country, a transit visa is required. Some countries stipulated that if the duration of stay doesn't exceed 24 hours or other defined period of time when passing through here as the transit country, no visa is required (but going out from the airport is not allowed). But in some countries, it is required no matter how long you will stay or whether you leave the airport or not. As with other visas, it also has the period of validity and duration.
Visa on Arrival: If the applicant can not directly obtain the visa in his own country, upon arrival at the port of his target country by holding a passport and the entry permit issued by his own country, a visa will be issued. However, the applicants should pay great attention as there are only a few countries that will issue visa on arrival.
Visa in Paper Form: Visa on a separate document, and not affixed to a passport has the same function and validity as a visa in a passport. The difference is that it is on a special-purpose paper outside the passport, which must be used in conjunction with the passport. The photos on both of the two should be consistent with each other.