On March 26, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (“MFA”) announced a decision to temporarily suspend entry into China by foreign nationals holding valid visas or residence permits (including APEC Business Travel Cards) as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 pandemic starting from midnight, March 28, 2020.
The announcement lists the specific categories of visas affected (above). However, those who enter with the visas listed below will not be affected:
- Diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas.
- Entry with new visas, specifically those issued after this announcement.
Meanwhile, the MFA has confirmed that foreign nationals affected may apply for new visas at Chinese embassies or consulates for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or based on emergency humanitarian need.
The announcement does not indicate the expiration date of the suspension. According to the MFA, the suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take considering the pandemic and the varied practices of other countries. The measures will be calibrated in view of the evolving situation and revised or updated accordingly.
Because some employees with valid work permits may not be able to enter China from March 28 due to the suspension, employers will need to prepare to make alternative work arrangements for expat workers who may be trying to return to China.
For the text of the official announcement from MFA, please go to: