On January 25, 2021, the State Council issued a notice on requiring all the local governments to provide all-around services for people staying in the workplace for Spring Festival, which clearly stated that people in high-risk areas should celebrate the Chinese New Year on the spot to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus; people from medium-risk areas should spend the holiday exactly where they were, those who need to travel under special circumstances should be approved by the local CDC; while people in low-risk areas should avoid non-essential trips.
Do All Travelers Need Nucleic Acid Testing?
According to CCTV News, from January 28 to March 8, below are the three types of personnel who need to hold a negative certificate of nucleic acid test.
Cross-provincial personnel returning to rural areas;
Persons returning to rural areas from the cities where high-and medium-risk areas are located;
Key groups of people returning to rural areas in the province, including the work staff engaged in the imported cold-chain food, other imported good at ports, quarantined places and working in means of transport.
Two Ways to Check If You Require a COVID Test!
If people are unsure whether they need to carry out the nucleic acid test or not before travelling, here are the two ways to find out:
The first way is to directly dial the 24-hour mayor’s service hotline “area code + 12345” of the destination city;
The second way is to scan the QR code below, but currently available only in Chinese.
On Jan 21, 2021, Zhejiang province launched new regulations in light of COVID-19 during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, with management of rural areas being a strong focus.
People traveling from areas designated medium to high-risk for COVID-19, as well as medium-risk areas that have been locked down, will be required to undergo a 14-day centralized or self-quarantine, and will be required to take nucleic acid tests on the first and 14th days after their arrival. Those who continue testing negative throughout the 14 days will undergo seven days of daily health monitoring, after which they must be tested again, according to the “14+7” health management measures targeted at the group.
For those from medium-risk regions with sporadic COVID-19 cases, Zhejiang will implement a “7+7” management system, meaning people will be asked to stay at home for seven days after a negative test result and monitor their health conditions every day for another seven days if the nucleic acid test again comes up negative when their home-based quarantine ends.
Health authorities in Zhejiang have also said that people from outside the province intending to travel home to rural areas must provide negative novel coronavirus test results taken within seven days of their trip and present green health codes. This rule also applies to people involved in the cold-chain food industry, employees at ports with direct contact with imports, workers at quarantine sites, and people working in the transportation sector.
Those who fail to submit the necessary information will be immediately guided to designated service stations for nucleic acid testing. If the result is negative, they will be asked to undergo a 14-day daily health monitoring period and take another two tests on the seventh and 14th days after arriving. The management rules for rural travelers will go into effect on Jan 28 and remain in place throughout the Spring Festival travel rush until March 8.
Confirmed! Nucleic acid negative certificate need to be provided when returning home during the Spring Festival
“Returning people must provide a negative certificate of coronavirus within 7 days, and implement home health monitoring for 14 days after the returning. During this period, they can not gather or move, and must take a nucleic acid test every 07 days. The Regional coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic Prevention and Control Work Plan will deploy related epidemic prevention work in rural areas and returnees. The National Health Commission answered questions on key questions on the evening of the 20th:
Why should we strengthen the management of epidemic prevention and control for returnees?
Since the beginning of winter, sporadic cases and local clusters of epidemics have increased significantly in rural areas, seriously affecting the normal order of local life. The prevention and control capacity in rural areas is weak, and the prevention and control of the epidemic is difficult. Especially during the Spring Festival period, the number of returnees and the increase in personnel flow will increase the risk of epidemic transmission. In order to strictly implement the prevention and control strategy of internal rebound prevention, it is necessary to strengthen the management of epidemic prevention and control for returnees. Nucleic acid testing is currently an effective means to detect people infected with the coronavirus as early as possible. Returning people with negative nucleic acid test can effectively reduce the risk of the epidemic entering the countryside and ensure that everyone has a healthy and safe Spring Festival.
Who are the returnees mentioned in the work plan?
The returnees referred to in the work plan are those returning to rural areas from other places, mainly including:
1. Returning people across provinces;
2. Returning personnel from the medium-high-risk areas in the city (in principle, the personnel in the medium-high-risk areas will not flow);
3. Imported cold chain food workers in the province, port direct contact with imported goods workers, workers in isolation places, workers transportation vehicles and other key groups.
How to obtain a negative nucleic acid test certificate before returning home?
Returnees can be tested at any medical institution, disease control institution or third-party testing institution that is qualified for nucleic acid testing at the place of departure or destination, with a certificate of negative nucleic acid test within 7 days or a health pass that contains negative information on nucleic acid testing within 7 days Code “Green Code” returns to rural areas.
Who is responsible for checking the negative certificate of nucleic acid test?
Returnees should inform the local village committee before returning to their hometown. After returning to their hometown, the village committee will check the negative certificate of nucleic acid test within 7 days or the health pass code “green code” that contains negative information of nucleic acid test within 7 days.
When will the policy start?
Returning home with a negative nucleic acid test will be implemented from the beginning of the Spring Festival ( January 28 to the end of the Spring Festival travel on March 8) .
Do I need to be isolated after returning home with a negative nucleic acid test?
Those who have a negative nucleic acid test certificate do not need to be quarantined after returning to their hometown, but they need to be monitored for home health for 14 days, monitor their body temperature and symptoms, and do not go out or gather unless necessary. Personal protection must be done when going out, and after returning home A nucleic acid test was done on the 7th day and the 14th day. Those who return to their hometown within 14 days shall implement the home health monitoring and nucleic acid testing requirements based on the actual return time.
How do localities implement this policy?
All localities should determine the scope of rural areas in accordance with local actual conditions and combined with national policies, formulate the implementation rules of the province, and provide relevant supporting services.
International students have been locked out of China since March 2020 due to COVID-19-related border closures. Many feel their studies are disrupted, fear they will not be able to graduate and are struggling from a lack of support and information by Chinese universities and authorities over their return. Frustrations have reached a crescendo, prompting students to start several online campaigns for their swift return to China.
While the number of COVID-19 cases has been subsiding in China, there’s no news over when international students are expected to return at the time of writing. Countries such as Australia and Canada have slowly begun allowing international students to return, prompting students here to call for the same. Here’s what we know so far about the situation:
2021 admissions at Chinese universities
According to China Admissions, an official representative of many top Chinese universities, “Admissions are going ahead as normal for 2021 intake,” but added, “The situation for 2021 intake depends on the COVID-19 situation, the policy of China and the university policy.” Most students in China have resumed offline learning but those stuck outside the country are expected to resume online learning until further changes.
When can international students return to China?
For now, the answer remains to be seen but reports note that China is still studying the return of foreign students. “It is not possible to know when the policy will change, we just need to wait for the official news. We advise you to contact your university for the latest announcements and news on their specific policy,” said China Admissions. According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin, the Chinese government is serious about the rights of its international students and called for its universities to be responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of its students, in addition to responding to their problems.
China student visa
International students cannot study in China without a valid Chinese student visa, also known as the X visa. China Admissions notes that international students who are already in China can still receive the JW202 form from their Chinese university upon admission acceptance. Scholarship China notes, “JW201/JW202 is a form generated by a Chinese university upon admission acceptance. Once you’re accepted, your Chinese university will send you [a] ‘Visa Application for Study in China (JW202 Form)’.” They note that some Chinese universities can still issue the JW202 to students outside China, subject to policy changes, in which case, students can use the form to apply for a visa at their embassy.
Fees for online programmes
Tuition fees are expected to remain the same despite universities moving teaching online for current international students. Some universities have given discounts to international students, such as the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing, which temporarily lowered its tuition fees for academic programmes in the fall 2020 semester by 20%.
Online campaigns in full steam
International students are campaigning actively online. There is a #TakeStudentsBacktoChina campaign on Twitter. Affected students have also started an online petition calling for clearer communication regarding China’s plan for international students’ return. A public Facebook group Save Foreign Students Of China aims to provide help or information regarding struggles with study, visas or school policies to international students in China, including those currently in and out of the country.
International students enrolled at universities in China, who are facing the possibility of being unable to return for a year, are becoming increasingly vocal about being allowed back to resume their studies.
Their recent actions have included collecting signatures for letters, producing an appeal video and inquiring with both Chinese consulates overseas and foreign consulates in China.
Hopes that overseas students can return before the end of the year are dimming, non-Chinese nationals from Britain, France, Russia, India and other 7 countries are temporarily banned from entry in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases in those counties.
Normally, China hosts almost 500,000 international students a year, but there have been no COVID-19 cases on any mainland Chinese campus since August — and it intends to keep things that way.
“I think the China is cautious because they don’t want to see imported infection cases, which would harm anti-COVID measures,” Ka Ho Mok, vice president and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Lingnan University Hong Kong, told Times Higher Education.
Mok, an expert in comparative higher education policy, urged patience. “As China is the first country in the globe to recover in terms of economic development, I think people and students in other parts of the globe would still be interested to study in China when the global health crisis is stable and national borders reopen,” he said.
However, the entry block is a pressing concern for students stuck midway through their studies.
A British chemist working toward her Ph.D. at a Chinese university told Times Higher Education that, like many international students, she left the country during the Lunar New Year holidays in January and has not been able to return.
“This [policy] led to some schools banning students from returning to China if they were abroad,” she said.
“I cannot complete my work remotely at all, as it is completely lab-based,” she said. “My Ph.D. will be suspended and delayed until I’m able to return; however, it will reduce my chances of completing my Ph.D. in the time limit, as some universities only allow enrollment for a maximum of five years.”
About 1,000 foreign students wrote in a bilingual Chinese-English appeal that “China is our second home, so of course we will keep China safe at any cost” and promised to adhere to the mandatory 14-day quarantine and other restrictions.
“We, as students, contribute to university budgets,” they wrote. “We are creating cutting-edge technologies that will hugely benefit China in the future, and some of us are even pursuing our own start-ups in China, too.”
The problem appears greatest for final-year students with pending clinical, lab or work-study assignments. If they cannot secure internships and placements soon, their applications for postgraduate work or jobs could be delayed by a full year. And that is not to mention the fact that many of these students are still paying for rent and tuition in China, while scholarship money has been cut.
Some of the frustration, it appears, stems from the feeling that rules have been unevenly applied. For example, foreign professors and businesspeople can enter China.
“Our work is essentially the same,” said the British Ph.D. candidate, who wished to remain unnamed. “I think using the severity of the pandemic is a weak excuse given to students if workers and businesspeople are able to return freely.”
She also noted that Chinese students could travel between overseas universities and home. “Many Chinese students have had planes chartered by U.K. universities, so to see that sort of treatment in contrast to students who chose to study in China and have been waiting indefinitely, it hurts a lot being ignored for so long.”
Similar situation is also in other countries.
About a quarter of foreign students enrolled in Australia are still in their home countries, with only a small number allowed back via pilot plans, while New Zealand is letting in only some postgraduates engaged in clinical or lab work.
Elsewhere across Asia-Pacific, though, doors are slowly reopening. Most international students are back on campus in Hong Kong and Singapore, while Taiwan lifted its ban on most overseas students in August. Even Japan, which was roundly criticized for its border controls, has allowed some entrants since October.
On October 27, 2020, according to the Bureau of Commerce of Linan District, Hangzhou, their Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Department has been actively assisting enterprises in inviting foreign employees to return to China. Up to now, a total of 69 foreigners from 18 enterprises have received invitation letters.
Who is Eligible to Receive an Invitation Letter?
Per the announcement, the invitation letters issued by Linan Government are mainly to the following three types of foreign employees.
Overseas partners of the local enterprises;
Technical support and other related personnel.
A One-Week Process
Per the Commerce Bureau of Linan District, as of now, foreigners who come to Zhejiang for business work are required to hold an invitation letter, where its application process is as follows:
The employer shall fill in the application form of the invitation letter for foreigners coming to China and submit it to the local business bureau;
After passing the preliminary examination, it shall be submitted to Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce;
It will be handed over by Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce to Zhejiang Provincial Department of Commerce, and the invitation letter will be issued by the provincial government department for entry after approval.
Furthermore, as to better assist enterprises to resume work and production, the Commerce Bureau of Linan District currently provides training for the local enterprises and ensures that all the declaration materials of the invitation letter are passed at one time. Therefore, the relevant foreign personnel can get an invitation letter within a week at most.
Materials Needed from Foreign Employees
Per the Hangzhou Government, the following documents are required for the foreign employee to apply for the invitation letter to enter China.
Informed letter signed by the invited foreign employee;
Passport information page of the invited foreign employee.
During the epidemic period of COVID-19, they will continue to do a good job in service and help foreign personnel to apply for an invitation letter or fast-track lane to achieve full resumption of work and production, the head of Linan Commerce Bureau added.
On October 12th, 2020, according to the Huanggang Municipal People’s Government, the Huanggang Entry-Exit Administration Bureau of Hubei Province would actively apply for the Green Card for foreign talents who stick to their posts and support economic growth during the epidemic of COVID-19.
Favourable Policies in Details As per the Huanggang Municipal Government, Huanggang city will continue to optimize the channels for foreign talents to apply for residence permit and facilitate the introduction for them to work and live there. Here are the details of the favourable policies. One-Window Service Per the announcement, Huanggang City has launched a one-window service for foreign talents, providing 24-hour hotline service, offering round-the-clock consultation, and implementing the personal responsibility system in terms of entry-exit consultation, policy consultation, visa appointment, acceptance and examination.
Green Channel for Residence Permit & Visa Service Per the Huanggang Exit-Entry Administration Bureau, during the outbreak, they provide green channel for foreign talents in residence permits and visa services. For instance, in case of special circumstances, the relevant department will complete the work residence permit procedures within one working day. And also, if a foreign talent needs to leave China in times of emergency, he/she can apply for visa services via the green channel. Green Card Service For the foreign talents who have stuck to their posts and support the actual economic development of Huanggang since February 2020, the local government will actively apply to the National Immigration Administration for their permanent residence permit in accordance with relevant procedures.
New Inbound-Outbound Port Furthermore, with the approval of the State Council, the project for Huanggang’s First-Class Port starts today. After completion, foreign nationals, goods, articles and means of transportation can enter and leave China (customs and border) directly through this port. According to government officials, the port will be completed in 14 months. As of now, all the above-mentioned policies are being implemented. And also Huanggang will continuously strengthen its attraction for overseas investment and foreign talents.
On October 14th, 2020, following Hainan Pilot Free Trade Zone and Shenzhen, three more regions, namely Xi’an city of Shaanxi Province, Lingshui Li Autonomous County of Hainan Province and Anhui Province, have issued a series of facilitation policies for foreigners in China, to solve the problems in their daily life, including the complicated processing procedure of work permit application.
According to the local governments, they will adopt a series of measures as follows.
Xi’an: Once-for-All Policy
Per the Xi’an municipal government, Xi’an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone will deepen its reform by implementing the one-time handling of matters for foreigners to come to China such as the notice of permission, the work permit and the residence permit. As per the announcement, for foreigners who meet the following requirements, the government staff will complete their applications within 14 working days, which as follows:
18 years old or older, and in good health;
Has specialized skills and work experience required by the job;
Has no criminal records;
Has an assured employer;
The economic work they are engaged in meets the needs of China’s social development.
For more details, please click the link below: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/4VxQI4z21-QYWhW4HaZP0A
Lingshui (Hainan): Dedicated Service Window
Since this year, the Lingshui Li Autonomous County has launched a series of services for foreigners, aiming to enhance their sense of belonging here and facilitate their life, which includes the following measures:
Set up a “foreign talent service window” to provide entry-exit consulting services;
Build a WeChat communication group to timely release the latest foreign talent policy and provide 24-hour online docking service;
Help foreigners to apply for temporary Chinese driving licenses;
Establish bilingual bus station, and gradually achieve full coverage;
Organize regular Chinese language training.
Besides, the government has also set up an English corner for local talent to improve their English skills and help local enterprises introduce foreign talents.
Anhui: Green Channel for Evaluation
Per the Anhui Provincial Department of Human Resources and Social Security, a green channel for the application of professional title evaluation has been established for high-level foreign talent and urgently needed talents who have been introduced to Anhui in recent five years, which can speed up the approval process.
However, the following three special circumstances are excluded.
Foreign senior agricultural economist, senior human resources consultant, senior intellectual property (IP) engineer, senior accountant, senior auditor, senior statistician, health and other professional titles (Specialties) shall not be declared;
Primary and secondary school teachers and university teachers are not allowed to declare;
For university teachers, they must be recommended by the school when applying for assessment and recognition,
As of now, all the above policies have been implemented locally.
Holding Valid Chinese Residence Permits of Three Categories
September 23, 2020
In view of the current COVID-19 situation and the need of epidemic prevention and control, adjustments are now made to the Announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration on the Temporary Suspension of Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Visas or Residence Permits issued on 26 March 2020.
Effective from 0 a.m., 28 September 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are allowed to enter China with no need for applying for new visas. If the above three categories of residence permits held by foreign nationals expired after 0 a.m., 28 March 2020, the holders may apply for relevant visas by presenting the expired residence permits and relevant materials to the Chinese embassies or consulates on the condition that the purpose of the holders’visit to China remains unchanged. The above-mentioned personnel shall strictly abide by the Chinese regulations on epidemic prevention and control.
Other measures in the Announcement issued on March 26 will continue to be implemented. While ensuring effective epidemic control, the Chinese government will continue resuming people-to-people exchanges in a step-by-step and orderly manner.
The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo said Saturday that it will begin accepting applications from Sept. 1 for visas for re-entry to China by Japanese businesspeople who are currently back in their home country.
Those who have valid residential permits issued by Chinese authorities can apply for the re-entry visa, the embassy said.
Following the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Chinese government in late March banned entry to the country — even by foreigners with valid residential permits.
As a result, Japanese businesspeople based in China who traveled to Japan and stayed after the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in January, but later wanted to return, were denied permission to travel back to China.
Re-entry visa applications will be received at relevant centers in Tokyo and the cities of Nagoya and Osaka, as well as the Chinese Consulates-Generals in Sapporo, Niigata, Fukuoka and Nagasaki.
Such applicants will need to make reservations for visits over the internet or through other means.
The planned issuance of re-entry visas is intended to further support travel between the two countries, an official at the embassy said.
On August 19, 2020, according to China.com.cn, in a press conference on further interpretation of Stabilizing the Fundamentals of Foreign Trade and Investment, the Ministry of Commerce indicates that government shall relax the restrictive measures for foreigners in the service field. This includes exploring the integration of work permit and work-type residence permit, so as to better practice the reform, opening up and innovation policies in 28 pilot areas.
What’s to be Reformed
As per Xian Guoyi, director of the Department of Service and Trade of the Ministry of Commerce, these measures can be adopted in pilot areas so that expats can live a more comfortable life in China:
Relax the approval right of foreign children’s schools;
Simplify the approval process of foreign-funded travel agencies;
Expand the scope of qualifications for technology import and export operators;
Set up the permanent representative offices in China of the foreign patent agencies, etc.
Opening Up: Easier for Foreigners to Start Businesses and Work
Per the Ministry of Commerce, in the pilot areas, the foreign service providers will be allowed to enter the Chinese market in more fields, where it is stated that:
Encourage foreign institutions to hold foreign-related economic and technological exhibitions independently;
Support the development of cross-border commercial medical insurance products with foreign institutions;
Relax the restrictive measures in the service field, including exploring the integration of work permit and work-type residence permit for foreigners;
Promoting mutual recognition of professional qualifications;
Allow foreign lawyers be employed as foreign legal advisers on a pilot basis;
Qualified foreigners could be allowed to take the qualification examination for patent agent;
Strengthen international cooperation in education, law, finance and other fields;
Build international service trade cooperation parks.
Innovation: Easier Mobile Payment for Foreigners
The pilot areas should vigorously promote the development of online-teaching, digital services, copyright services, and pharmaceutical R & D, where it is mentioned that a pilot program of digital Chinese yuan shall be put into use so as to make it easier for foreigners to use mobile payment in China.
Per the Ministry of Commerce, the above-mentioned measures will be piloted in 28 areas and then nationwide if work well.
List of 28 Pilot Areas
Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hainan, Dalian, Xiamen, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Changchun, Harbin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Guiyang, Kunming, Xi’an, Urumqi, Suzhou, Weihai, Xiong’an New Area in Hebei, the New Area between Guiyang and Anshun in Guizhou and Xi Xian New area in Shaanxi.
To ensure the health and safety of international travel and reduce the risk of cross-border spread of the epidemic, in accordance with the relevant joint announcement of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the General Administration of Customs of China and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued on 20 July 2020 and the relevant notices by the Chinese embassies or consulates in specific countries, China-bound passengers from the following countries, including those ultimately bound for China who transfer via the following countries, are required to obtain COVID-19 negative certificates before boarding.
The above-mentioned passengers are required to take nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 within five days before boarding. The tests should be taken at institutions that are located at the place of departure and designated or recognized by relevant Chinese embassies or consulates. Passengers should apply for green health codes with an “HS” mark or Health Declaration Forms by presenting COVID-19 negative certificates. Airlines are responsible for checking the health codes or Health Declaration Forms of the passengers before they board the plane. For specific requirements, please refer to notices by the Chinese embassies or consulates in relevant countries.
The list of countries where China-bound passengers are required to obtain COVID-19 negative certificates before boarding will be adjusted as necessary. Please pay close attention to any adjustment.