The “PU Invitation Letter” is issued by the “China Foreign Affairs Office” in Beijing. With the PU letter foreigners can apply for a new visa to enter China. This is a new policy since the global epidemic. All previously issued Visa’s were cancelled effective March 28, 2020.
Foreigners who have previously held work/ personal affair/ reunion type of Visa’s must now apply for a new visa. Only certain specific reasons meet the requirements for applying for a PU Letter. Only companies can apply for the PU Letter for their foreign employees or individuals. Agents cannot apply for PU letters!
Who Can Get a PU Letter?
The policies have tightened as the global epidemic worsens. Now only the following personnel are possible to get a PU letter:
- Important employees of large-scale companies.
- The core management staff of small or medium-sized enterprises such as the legal representative or CEO, etc. The success rate of this category is very limited.
- Senior technical experts and other high-end talents who can bring benefits to China.
If you don’t meet one of these categories, don’t lose hope! There are exceptions to these categories. You should definitely apply if you have special and compelling reasons that might persuade the Foreign Affairs Office.
How to Apply for a PU Letter:
- Only companies can apply for the PU Letter for their foreign employees, individuals or any agents cannot apply for PU letter!
- Companies need to contact the district foreign affairs officer, submit the application materials, and wait for approval.
- After the PU letter is issued, the company should send it to the foreign applicant.
- The foreign applicant then takes it to the Chinese Consulate/Embassy in his/her country to apply for a new visa.
Warning! As mentioned above, only companies can apply for the PU Letter on behalf of their foreign employees. Agents can only assist the company with the application, but they can’t provide PU letters.
If any individuals or agents promise to get you a PU letter without cooperation from your company, they are definitely lying. Watch out for scams or getting it illegally.
What is a PU Invitation Letter (邀请函) ?
The PU letter is an invitation letter issued during the epidemic that an inviting entity needs to receive from the relevant Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) in order to allow the invitee to apply for a visa in their respective country outside of China. The PU Invitation is a general invitation in comparison to the TE invitation, which is a special invitation for trade fairs or more high-level business trips.
What is the general process to apply for the PU Letter?
- The visa location on the PU is a fixed location. Thus, the invitee must determine the visa application location in advance.
- The longest stay of the PU can be anything 88 – 180 days
- In Beijing some PU’s are issued with longest stay 000, this means that the invitee needs to apply for a residence permit within 30 days from the date of entry
- You can add a maximum of 5 dependents to one PU
- The PU must bear the issuing Stamp to be valid
How to apply for the PU Letter?
Relevant companies need to apply for it from their local Foreign Affairs website.
How long does the process take?
After you have submitted your documents, the review can take anything from 2-6 weeks. Different people have had different experiences with this.
How long is a PU letter valid? PU letters are currently valid for 3 months. Please apply for the visa when the work permit notification letter and the PU Letter are still valid.
Which applicants still need to apply for PU invitation letter to enter China?
- Foreigners who have previously held three types of residence permits (work, personal affair -see next point-, reunion), BUT expired before 00 am. on March 28, 2020.2. Foreigners who have NOT previously held the above three types of residence permits.
What do personal affairs mean?
If the purpose of residence permit page states 私人事务 (private affair), then it’s a residence permit for personal matters.
Normally, if you are in China to stay with your family or start your own business, then the residence permit is of personal matters type.
People unable to enter China as the Chinese consulate in the country they are currently in doesn’t allow them to apply for the visa – need to obtain a PU Invitation Letter to be able to return.
If my residence permit was issued before March 28th 2020 and it is still valid, can I come in without a PU Invitation Letter?
You also need to apply for a new visa to enter China. You should check whether or not the PU Invitation Letter is required, as it all depends on the country’s embassy or consulate.
Do I need to obtain a PU Letter if my residence permit is still valid?
According to the latest policy announced on 23rd September, foreigners who hold a valid residence permit can enter China without additional documents.
Can I apply for a visa directly without a PU Letter for visas issued after March 28th?
European citizens or Green channel countries who have residence DO NOT need PU letters. Other citizens should ask their embassies and consulates for details.
If I am overseas now and do not hold any residence permit or only hold other types of visa, how can I return to China?
First of all, you need to have an employer from a Chinese company, and then apply for a work permit first. After you get the work permit notification letter, you can use it as one of the materials to apply for the PU Invitation letter from the Foreign Affairs Office. After getting the PU Invitation Letter, apply for a Z visa from the Chinese embassy and consulate abroad.
Are there any restrictions on countries? Can foreigners of any nationality apply for the PU Invitation Letter?
Yes, you can apply without any restrictions. but the approval result depends on the Foreign Affairs Office.
At present, can foreign staff and their family members directly apply for entry visas at Local Chinese embassy or consulate after they receive the notification letter of work permit?
No, they cannot. After obtaining the notification letter of work permit, foreign staff and his family members shall apply for a PU letter from the local competent foreign affairs Administration within China by their working unit. (Except for South Koreans, according to the facilitation measures for personnel exchanges between China and South Korea, South Koreans can apply for such work visa at the local Chinese embassy and consulate without providing PU letters).
If a foreign expat has a valid multiple-entry visa issued by the overseas Chinese embassy, can he directly use it to enter China?
No, he cannot. This “Multiple-entry Visa” issued by overseas Chinese embassy is different from “residence permit”. “Residence permit” is a kind of residence certificate with multiple entries issued by the local exit and entry administration in China after foreign expat entering China with the relevant visa.
Can I apply for the work permit notification letter and the PU Letter at the same time?
Yes, you can. But the Foreign Affairs office will only start processing the PU Invitation Letter after the visa office has received the work permit notification letter. But before submitting the documents, you should submit the online application first.
Is there an urgent service?
If you need urgent service, please inform the visa officer when submitting your visa. As long as you have a valid reason, the visa officer will usually be able to meet your requirements, but this will require you to pay an additional fee at the time of collection.
Which documents do I need for the application process?
1) An application in writing by employer (template provided by the FAO)
2) The application form (template provided by the FAO)
3) Information Form (template provided by the FAO):
- a) Inviting Entity’s Name (Chinese), Physical Address, Contact name / contact number
- b) Applicant name, nationality, passport number, date of birth, visa processing place, job description
- c) Proposed date of entry:
- d) Length of stay: (up to 180 days)
- e) Place of visa application: Country + city
- f) Place of visit (you will be required to submit an additional approval letter from the district FAO if you are planning to visit other provinces and cities):
- g) Purpose: business trade / exchange visit / family members
4) Inviting Entities Information Background Form (template provided by the FAO)
5) Scanned copy of invitee’s passport information page (valid for more than 6 months) & previous Visa pages in China
6) If foreign family members are invited, submit the family relationship (notarized marriage certificate / birth certificate).
Details required: name, gender, nationality, passport numbers, visa location, affiliated company and position if applicable.
Max. 5 dependents on PU Letter. For example, to reunite families with a working party that never left China, the inviting entity (the working party’s organization), can invite the family back through the PU Letter, following the same steps as mentioned above.
It may possibly help to mention that the working party may need to leave China if not reunited with his family which would cause severe losses to the inviting entity.
Other compelling reasons may include that the spouse / family member has to look after family in China as the working party has no time to do so or that children need to return to school. After you receive the PU, the overseas Chinese consulate will advise your family member(s) on which visa type to apply for (M / S1 / Q1).
7) If applying for fast track, please indicate in the application and provide closed-loop management scheme.
8) The FAO may request additional documents
Special Consideration for Documents & Application
Note: the above materials must be signed and sealed by the person in charge of the invitee’s unit.
Moreover, the job description must be stamped by the official seal of invitee’s unit and have the signature of the legal representative.
The inviting entity is the company and inviting unit of the employee’s department / relevant inviting department.
What to pay attention to when applying?
Issues that need attention in the application process include before, during and after the application:
- Before applying for the PU Letter, we should pay attention to whether the company’s tax returns are normal, whether the company has a bad credit record, whether it is in normal operation, etc.
- In the application, we should pay attention to cooperate with the gov departments in a timely manner. If you do not answer the phone or your submission materials are not perfect, this will affect the pass rate. Timely follow-up is very important.
- After applying for the PU Letter, the company will inform you in time and the following will be required: flight information, an acid test report within 3-5 days before departure, detailed travel arrangements. Avoid trouble caused by rushed preparation.
- The visa location on the PU Letter obtained is fixed, this means that you must determine your visa application location in advance. In other words, if you choose to apply in Paris, France, you cannot go to the Chinese Consulate in Germany after you get the PU invitation letter.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICES INFO
The implementation of this new policy currently varies from consulate to consulate. You should confirm with your local consulate before submitting a visa application.
The Ultimate Guide to the PU Invitation Letter