How to apply for a PU letter and get a Chinese visa

Everything you need to know about the application process for a PU letter that is needed to apply for a work visa during COVID pandemic times

How to apply for a PU?

Please be aware that the process and mentioned criteria differ according to the city and FAO (Foreign Affairs Office). Furthermore, the below is just meant as a guideline, and that requirements change quickly. Thus, it is advised that after reading this document that the inviting entity contacts the district Foreign Affairs Office for the most up-to-date procedures and application. According to Chinese law, the decision to issue the visa lies solely with the Chinese consulates abroad. Thus, before beginning the application, it is advised to contact the local consulate in the invitee’s country in order to ask them if they qualify for the visa application after receiving a PU and for which visa they qualify (examples M, S, Q, Z, F, R).

What is a PU Invitation (邀请函)?

The PU letter is the invitation letter that the 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.

Important points:

  • The visa location on the PU is a fixed location. The invitee must thus determine the visa application location in advance.
  • The longest stay of the PU can be anything, from 88 to 180 days
  • In Beijing some PUs 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
  • Maximum 5 dependents can be added to one PU
  • The PU must bear the issuing Stamp to be valid

Who needs a PU?

People unable to enter China as the Chinese consulate in the country they are in doesn’t allow them to apply for the visa. Reasons therefore are many, the most common being that China is not open to applications for the specific country / the applicant’s residence permit has expired.

Reasons for application:

Economic, trade, scientific and technological activities, as well as culture or sports purposes. Don’t lose hope! It has been seen that there are exceptions to these categories. You should definitely apply if you have special and compelling reasons that might persuade the Foreign Affairs Office.

Inviting Entity :

According to the law, the inviting entity can be an administrative institution at any level, a social organization or enterprises (such as companies) registered in China.

Please note that people that have Chinese spouses generally can apply directly for a Q visa without needing a PU. That being said, some Chinese consulates in some counties have refused to issue Q visas for these individuals. In one such case in Switzerland, a Chinese boyfriend successfully managed to get a PU for his foreign girlfriend and child to return, applying as an individual and not through an organization.

Which departments in the inviting entity may need to be engaged to apply for the PU successfully?

  • HR department
  • Accounting department
  • Legal department
  • Department of governmental affair (recommended if existing)
  • Health and Safety department (recommended if existing)

How long does the entire process take after application of a PU?

After the documents have been submitted correctly, the review may take anything from 2-6 weeks. Experiences have been very different.

Brief view of Application Process (see below for details) :

Although the above is specifically for Shanghai, the process is similar for other cities and jurisdictions in China.

Documents to be submitted

  • An application in writing by the employer (template provided by the FAO)
  • The application form (template provided by the FAO)
  • 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 (an additional approval letter from the district FAO is required if the invitee is planning to visit other provinces and cities):
    • g) Purpose: business trade/exchange visit • family members
  • Inviting Entities Information Background Form (template provided by the FAO)
  • Scanned copy of invitee’s passport information page (valid for more than 6 months) & previous Visa pages in Chin
  • If foreign family members are invited, the family relationship shall also be submitted (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.
  • If applying for fast track, please indicate in the application and provide a closed-loop management scheme.
  • The FAO may request additional documents The FAO will guide the inviting entity to improve the application materials.

Note: the above materials must be signed and sealed by the person in charge of the invitee’s unit. Also, the job description must be stamped by the official seal of invitee’s unit and have the signature of the legal representative.

Inviting entity can be understood as the company and the inviting unit as the employee’s department / relevant inviting department

Please note that in cases where a family needs to be reunited with the working party that never left China, the inviting entity (the working party’s organization), can invite the family back through the PU, 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 receiving the PU, the family member(s) will then be advised by the overseas Chinese consulate on which visa type to apply for (M / S1 / Q1).

An application in writing by the inviting entity

Specify the needs, necessity, and urgency of the invitation, the list of invited personnel (including name, work unit, position, and the specific relationship if carrying family members); if dependents are invited separately, specify the situation of the business personnel in China and their company, and the necessity of inviting family members to come to China.

The Foreign Affairs Office should provide the template for this.

What Documents may be requested once the application has been accepted:

  1. Business license or other registration and approval materials of the inviting entity
  2. Basic information of the latest commercial entity register
  3. Customs declaration form (or foreign contact card) of the inviting entity’s foreign trade import and export
  4. Guarantee commitment letter of the inviting unit signed by the legal representative or authorized person (a guarantee for liability that may incur if the infection is spread through the invited person)
  5. ID cards of the legal person and agent of the inviting unit
  6. Criminal record of the invitee
  7. The last year’s tax certificate and tax Bureau location. The annual report may also be requested.
  8. Epidemic prevention & control plans of the inviting Entity in case the person being invited was infected (attention, onsite inspections may be requested)
  9. Informed undertaking signed by the invitee
  10. Further materials may also be requested

Note: the above materials must be signed and sealed by the person in charge of the invitee’s unit

PU application process:

  1. Contact the Chinese embassy in the country that the invitee is in and confirm that they can issue a visa for the invitee if the inviting entity manages to receive the PU. According to the law, the decision to issue the visa lies solely with the Chinese embassies and consulates abroad, so this is the first step.
  2. The inviting entity must apply either at the sub-district office, functional zones, or at the district competent authorities that oversee its industry (Commission of Commerce, Science and Technology Commission, Education Commission, etc.). This should be done in the district in which the inviting entity is registered. - See the pdf ‘Foreign Affairs Office Contact Details’ - Download the application form at the official website of the district FAO.
  3. The sub-district office, functional zones, or district competent authorities will next submit the application to the inviting entity’s District Foreign Affairs Office (FAO). If the District FAO makes the determination that the invitee is essential to business operations, the District FAO will notify the inviting entity and forward the application to the City FAO. If further approved the application will be sent from the City FAO to the FAO of the municipal government. Be aware that the authorities may request to see the premises of the inviting entity.
  4. The City FAO will review the application and, if approved, will issue a visa notification to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Beijing and to the relevant Chinese Embassy or consulate in the country where the invitee is located. The inviting entity will also receive a copy of the notification.
  5. The inviting entity should send a fax or scanned copy of this notification to the invitee, who will then present it at their local Chinese Embassy or consulate for visa application. The notification will include a bar code that grants the Embassy or consulate access to all information collected by the authorities. Please note, however, that additional information may still be required by the MFA or by the local Embassy or consulate.
  6. The inviting entity should send a fax or scanned copy of this notification to the invitee, who will then present it at their local Chinese Embassy or consulate for visa application. The notification will include a bar code that grants the Embassy or consulate access to all information collected by the authorities. Please note, however, that additional information may still be required by the MFA or by the local Embassy or consulate.

PU material that may assist the application process:

F visa: For those who come to China for exchanges, visits, inspections, training, etc., the inviting unit must provide documents that can prove the true relationship between the Chinese and foreign parties, such as meeting notices, government approvals, project exchange and cooperation agreements, exchange documents, letters, emails, etc.

Business visa (M visa): The inviting entity must provide documents that can prove the true business relationship between the Chinese and foreign parties, including:

  • Documents, letters, and mail records related to the business.
  • The purchase and sale contract of the transaction (signed and sealed by both parties).
  • Copies of "Foreign Trade Operators Registration Form" and "Customs Declaration Unit Registration Certificate".
  • If the inviting entity does not have the right to import and export operations and the qualifications for customs declaration, and the qualified enterprise handles the import and export business on its behalf, it must provide a copy of the agency agreement between the two parties and a copy of the bank statement that proves the capital exchange between the two parties, and the Copies of the Registration Form of Trade Operators and the Registration Certificate of Customs Brokers.
  • A copy of the customs declaration form and bill of lading for the transaction.
  • A copy of the "Foreign Income Declaration Form" issued by the transaction bank.
  • A copy of the value-added tax invoice of the transaction.

How to make a visa application once the PU has been received

The invitation letter shall be uniformly issued after the approval of the foreign affairs office. They will communicate issuance directly to the consulate in the invitee’s country.

The invitee is only required to present a copy thereof to the consulate, which they should receive by email from the inviting entity.

  1. Once the PU letter has been issued successfully, the invitee should fill out the online visa application for the consulate indicated on your PU letter and submit it electronically; ( The following link offers clarification on what visa to apply for family members:
  2. Call/Email the consulate to book an appointment to apply for the visa and in general, you take the following with you to the consulate:
    • Application form
    • Photocopy of Passport Data Page + Photo on A4 page
    • Photocopy of previous Chinese visas on A4 page
    • Signed Personal statement printed (if you won’t present your previous passport)
    • Colour passport photo (48mmx33mm)
    • Signed Declaration
    • WORK PERMIT or equivalent document (original + copy)
    • Copy of the stamped PU Letter
    • Marriage certificate / birth certificate if applicable (NOTARIZED AS PER CONSULATE INSTRUCTIONS) (original + copy)
    • Envelope with address for return post

If the invitee wants to visit other provinces, regions, and cities, he/she shall provide the approval letter from relevant provincial foreign affairs departments when applying. After the invitee confirms the entry date, the company shall report the personnel information (including name, country, position, flight, certificate number, etc.) to the district government as soon as possible, and the district government shall report the information to the foreign affairs office, which shall report the information to the epidemic prevention and control headquarters, so as to make preparations.


  1. Applying for a PU is free of charge
  2. The visa location on the PU is a fixed location. The invitee must thus determine the visa application location in advance. For example, if they choose to apply for a visa in Paris, France after the invitee gets the PU, they cannot go to the Chinese consulate in Germany.
  3. It is important to make clear that if the invitee does not enter the country, the investment and projects of the inviting entity will not be carried out – this is the most important point
  4. Even a small company can apply for a PU for its employee if they can prove that they are making a vital contribution to the Chinese economy
  5. Supplying information about the inviting entity’s registered capital and the inviting entity’s future investment plans and projects in China may further help
  6. Make sure that HR strictly submits the documents required by the FAO, otherwise, there may be considerable delays in the process
  7. It is recommended that even copies of documents be submitted with the official seal stamp of the inviting entity
  8. Make sure that the following documents are notarized according to the requirements: (birth certificate, marriage certificate, Chinese household registration, certificate letters from the local police bureau in China, notarial certificate of kinship, etc.) Get the details from the consulate, some require double notarization!
  9. The invitee cannot invite themselves. The invitee and inviting entity have to be separate legal entities.
  10. A new employer can help provide a PU letter. If the invitee is a new hire, they need notification of a work permit. The work permit can only be processed after entry into China and a health check.
  11. An application can be applied for if the invitee is still in China, there may be additional requirements though (such as a bachelor’s degree). Best to liaise with the FAO for these details.
  12. If the invitee eventually enters China on an M visa and their previous work visa is valid, they can continue to work (the previous visa remains valid). If their work permit expired but was extended, the M visa must then be changed to a work residence permit which will allow the invitee to work legally in China.
  13. If the invited person needs to apply for a visa to China in a country other than his country of nationality, he must provide a copy of his residence certificate in his country of residence or other original proof of emergency.
  14. If the supporting documents are not in English, a Chinese translation must be provided. The translation must be translated by a domestic qualified translation company, stamped with the official seal of the translation company, and must be accompanied by the translation company’s business licence and translators’ signature.
  15. Those who have come to China for the first time, or who have been to China before but within the next 5 years, must provide an original certificate of non-criminal record in the country of residence of the foreigner, and a notarized document of the certificate. In addition, the certificate of non-criminal record must be certified by the local embassy or consulate.

Information provided by Giraffe English Nanjing


This document was created for reference only with data collected from various articles as listed below, as well as the personal chats from many people entering into China. The information may change at any time, so please check with official government source for the latest updates.


IVisaChina (Shanghai)

BusinessCN (ShenZhen)

BusinessCN (GuangZhou)

BusinessCN (BeiJing)

LaoWai Here


theBeijinger (What Visa to Apply for as a Spouse in China )