In an effort to strengthen border control measures to minimise imported COVID-19 cases and contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the People's Republic of China and the National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced that, effective 00:00 March 28, 2020, foreign nationals in possession of valid Chinese visas or residence permits will be prohibited from entering China temporarily.

Key contents and updates

Who will be affected?

  • Foreign nationals holding valid visa or residence permit 
  • Foreign nationals holding APEC Business Travel Card

Who will not be affected?

  • Foreign nationals with diplomatic, official, courtesy and C visas
  • Foreign nationals with visas issued after March 26, 2020 on the grounds of:
    • Engaging in necessary economic, trade, science and technology activities
    • Emergency humanitarian needs

At the same time, the following visa-exempt policies will also be suspended until further notice:

  • Visa on arrival;
  • 24/72/144 hour-transit visa-exemption policy;
  • Hainan 30-day visa-exempt policy, 
  • 15-day visa-exempt policy for foreign nationals entering Shanghai port on cruise ship, 
  • 144-hour visa-exempt policy (for Guangdong province) for foreign nationals arriving from Hong Kong or Macao SAR on cruise ship; and 
  • 15-day visa-exempt policy (for Guangxi province) for foreign nationals arriving on tour groups organised by ASEAN countries.

KPMG Observation

With countries around the globe implementing new border control measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, international assignment and business travel arrangements will face significant challenges over the next few months.

Organizations are advised to review implications of the following issues and seek professional assistance where necessary:

  • Whether foreign employees or accompanying family members  holding valid residence permit will be eligible to enter China by applying for a new visa on the grounds of the necessity to carry out economic/trade activities, or for emergency humanitarian needs? 
  • Are Chinese visa application centers in overseas countries still operating as normal during the pandemic?
  • For those currently overseas but their China resident permits are due to expire in the near future, how to effectively prepare for new visa application to enable re-entry as soon as the border restrictions are lifted?
  • Will organizations act proactively by suspending international assignments to contain the spread, and review the associated relevant risks, initiate contingency plan to minimise risks and costs?
  • Measures to be considered to effectively adjust travel plans to minimise unnecessary time or financial losses?

KPMG will continue to follow policy and practice updates announced by the national and local immigration authorities, and inform our clients accordingly. Please contact a member of the KPMG Immigration Practice for practical solutions.