by Joey Knotts

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that the country will be opening its borders to holders of valid residence permits in another amendment to the ban on foreign entries that were put into place on Mar 26 of this year. The change goes into effect Monday, Sep 28.

The move seems to be an expansion of the policy that allowed residence permit holders from specified countries to re-enter China last month. The announcement yesterday made no mention of specific countries but did not expressly state that the policy would apply to all citizenships or countries of origin, leaving open questions as to the policy’s breadth for the time being. Presumably, more details on this matter will be provided in the coming days.

One additional caveat is that the doors are only opening to permit holders who were in China for work (Z visa)private affairs (S1 visa), and family reunion (Q1 visa) and who are returning for the same purpose. Holders of valid visas do not need to apply for a new visa, but those whose permit expired after Mar 28, 2020 can apply for a new permit at their local consulate or embassy before entering.

Regardless, the ministry was clear that all incomers will have to comply with anti-COVID regulations. Specifically, given that there still aren’t direct international flights into Beijing, a quarantine will have to be completed upon arrival within China’s borders, but before returning to the capital.

Prospective returnees will also be on their own for finding air travel into China, and although flight routes have been picking up recently, travelers should be prepared for unexpected delays or cancellations.

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