Foreigners helped by fast-track services

Chen Huizhi
Shanghai exit-entry authorities are making life easier for foreigners whose visas are about to run out or who have been forced to overstay because of epidemic prevention measures
Chen Huizhi
Foreigners helped by fast-track services
Chen Huizhi / SHINE

A foreigner attends the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau on Minsheng Road on Tuesday morning.

Exit-entry authorities are providing extra help for foreigners staying in Shanghai during the coronavirus epidemic.

Urgent services and group applications

Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau is providing fast-track services for foreigners with, by February 17, more than 400 visas issued this way. 

Foreigners whose companies have terminated contracts early or whose visa or residence permit is due to expire while their companies are closed can apply for a stay visa which usually grants an extra month.

For institutions with a relatively large number of foreign employees, including universities and companies, the bureau now allows them to apply instead of their employees.

Foreigners would normally be required to go to the exit-entry administration offices in person to apply for a visa or residence permit, but now their employers can do this for them.

Exemption from overstay punishment

People who are not able to extend their visa or stay or residence permits on time due to coronavirus epidemic measures could be exempt from punishment for overstaying or receive lighter punishments, the bureau said.

Jia Linbo, head of its case department , said decisions will be made based on whether an overstay resulted from unavoidable reasons such as cancellation of flights, home quarantine or lack of domestic transport.

The authorities will also take into consideration whether the case resulted in serious consequences and whether the person who overstayed owned up, Jia said.

“Some people couldn’t extend their visa or residence permit on time because their company hadn’t started to work so they couldn’t get the necessary documents from the company to apply,” he said. “In this case, the applicants are exempt from punishment.”

Foreigners who are not able to extend their visa or residence permit due to home quarantine are allowed to apply later with a certificate about the home quarantine issued by the residential committee.

Residence registration from home

From October last year, foreigners arriving in Shanghai can register their residence online instead of going to the police in person. The law requires people from overseas to register their residence on the Chinese mainland within 24 hours of arrival.

So far, over 30,000 people have registered their residence this way, according to the exit-entry administration bureau.

People can scan the following QR code with their mobile phone or log onto to register. The function is available only in Chinese and English at the moment, but Japanese and Korean versions will be introduced later this year.

Foreigners helped by fast-track services

Community support and 24/7 hotline

The city’s 52 overseas people service stations and six immigrants integration service stations provide information related to the epidemic and take registrations to buy masks.

The exit-entry administration bureau operates an English-speaking 24/7 hotline 28951900 which offers consultation on exit-entry matters.

The bureau said it takes about 700 phone calls every day, with half of the calls from foreigners.

The most frequent questions recently are about the extension of visas and residence permits and residence registration, the bureau said.

Questions not within the bureau's remit will be forwarded to other government departments. Foreigners can call the government service hotline 12345 for other queries.

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