Immigration update: China | Re-entry to China for Qualified Foreign Nationals

The Chinese border has been closed for foreign nationals since 28 March 2020, as part of the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19. To ensure economic recovery in China, some foreign employees have been granted admission due to returning to China to resume work or business visit.

Who will be affected?
Foreign Nationals who can’t return to China due to temporary visa suspension after 28 March.

While there has been anecdotal evidence of mixed experiences depending on the company, position, and port of entry, our best advice for those seeking to return to China is to first engage and apply directly with your foreign affairs office in your local business district where your enterprise is based.

Since there are no formal or written regulations on this issue yet, the operating procedure and implementation rules are different by area and case. Without an official specification, the service is supposed to be only available for generally high-level executives in impactful companies or industries who would “cause considerable negative impact on their company’s major or new projects given his/her absence”. And this special visa may only be for executives only, excluding family members subject to the authorities’ discretion.

Companies could start by reaching out to local governments such as the Foreign Affairs Office, the Commission of Commerce or competent authorities overseeing your industry (responsible department vary by provinces as well) for further questions or requests. Once you are able to file an application, they will conduct a pre-audit with the regional COVID-19 Prevention and Control Group and decide whether or not to submit your application to an upper-level government agency. In the process, companies are usually required to fill out and submit several documents including information of the applicant and a responsibility letter.


  • The Company prepares an invitation letter. Confirming the foreign employee who plans to return China. The Company starts by reaching out to local governments such as the Foreign Affairs Office to proceed with the submission. Government reviews and releases the government letter. The foreign employee can submit approved government letter and other related documents to proceed with the visa application in overseas Chinese Consulate. If foreign employee has planned visits to other cities, they need to submit approval letter from related city government when proceeding with the submission.
  • Once the foreign employee confirms entry date, the company needs to inform district government officer details of foreign employee’s information (Name, nationality, job title, flight number, passport and visa information). The Government officer will inform Prevention and Control emergency command office for preparation.
  • Upon foreign employee arrival in China, foreign employee may need take Nucleic Acid test, if test result is positive, they will be transferred to a dedicated quarantine hotel for 14 days quarantine.
  • After 14 days quarantine is completed, with no infection, the foreign employee can proceed normal business activity. All costs during quarantine will be paid by the company or foreign employee. If the foreign employee refuses to conduct quarantine period or cooperation, both the foreign employee and company will be legally charged.
  • After the foreign employee finishes their assignment and exists China, the company will need to report to government officer and the Foreign Affairs Office


Document check list:

  • Company invitation letter (explain importance and urgency of foreign employee’s visit; foreign employee’s information including name, nationality, passport info etc.)
  • Copy of foreign employee’s passport information
  • Detailed business plan (If foreign employee plans to visit other cities’ please also mention)
  • Other cities’ visit approval letter (If needed)
  • Application form
  • Company guarantee letter


Santa Fe Analysis
Santa Fe is closely monitoring these policies and will keep you and our broad member base updated on this issue.

Should you have any questions, please contact the following

Maggie Hu
​Immigration Manager – China
​Santa Fe Relocation China
D: (86-21) 6233 9700 ext. 134
M: +13917317947

Robert Day
Group Head of Immigration Operations
​Santa Fe Relocation
London, UK
M: +44 7990 021125


To read more immigration updates, click here

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