Generally, United States citizens do not require a visa to visit most countries for up to 90 days; a valid U.S. passport suffices to enter many of these countries. However, this is certainly not the case with the Chinese Embassy, as U.S. citizens must obtain a visa to enter the country. As a result, understanding some of the visa types and applying for the right visa can minimize the odds of a visa rejection.
Studying in China
The Chinese Embassy issues the X visa to foreign nationals who are interested in coming to China for the purposes of doing an internship in the country, studying or completing advanced studies in any given field. As of July 2010, the processing fee for an X visa was US$30 for foreign nationals from other countries and US$130 for U.S. citizens. Generally, it takes about four working days for the Chinese Embassy to process X visas. To get this visa, you must provide documents, which include, but are not limited to, an admission letter from a Chinese educational institution and a completed Student Visa Application Form (Form JW201 or JW202).
If you are interested in visiting China as a tourist, you must apply for the L visa. You can get the L visa for sightseeing or for visiting friends and relatives. The length of the L visa depends on whether you apply for a single entry or a double-entry visa. The double-entry L visa is valid for 180 days from the original date of issue while the single entry visa is valid for 90 days. The L visa processing fee, as of July 2010, was US$30 for those who are not U.S. citizens and US$130 for U.S. citizens.
One of the key requirements to obtaining this visa is to demonstrate to Chinese visa officials that you have enough financial resources to support yourself throughout the trip. If you meet this requirement, the Chinese Embassy may issue your visa.
Transit Through China
The G visa is a transit visa issued to foreign nationals who transit through a Chinese airport. Some of the requirements to get the G visa include, but are not limited to, a 2-by-2-inch photograph of you, a valid visa for your destination country and a valid passport. Your passport must have a minimum validity of six months.
The G status is valid for 90 days after the Chinese Embassy issues the visa. Nonetheless, the maximum time you can spend in China under this status is 10 days.
As is the case with most, if not all, other Chinese visa types, the fee for a G visa, as of July 2010, was US$130 for U.S. citizens and US$30 for other foreign nationals.