Sponsoring organizations in the United States or China generally provide detailed information on travel arrangements, visas, shipping procedures, methods of payment while abroad, and regulations and procedures governing specific cases. Because there is constant change in regulations, services, and procedures, it is advisable to seek the most current information on these matters from your sponsor. The following is a general guide to what to expect as a long-term resident. Of course, it is not a prescription relevant to every case.
U.S. citizens must have a valid passport. Passports may be obtained through a local passport office, which is located in the post office in smaller cities. It may take as much as six weeks to receive a passport after application has been made. If you already have a passport, be sure that it will not expire during your intended stay. A visa is required for entry into China and may be obtained from the visa section of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington, D.C., or from one of the Chinese consulates in San Francisco, New York, Houston, Chicago, or Los Angeles (addresses and telephone numbers are given below). The consulate, sponsor, or a large travel agency can provide the necessary forms. Copies of two standard forms are reproduced in Appendixes E and F. The application must be filled out in duplicate and mailed with the passport, two passport photos, and the visa fee. The cost of the visa depends on how quickly you want it and whether you request a single- or double-entry visa.
The Chinese government offers several types of visas. Researchers going for less than six months may obtain an ordinary tourist (''L") visa good for three months or short-term ("F") visa good for six months or less. It is now possible to get double-entry tourist visas if you plan to leave and return within the six-month period. Researchers and students going for longer than six months should get an "X" visa. Foreign experts or teachers planning to spend a year or more get a "Z" visa. The consulate will determine which visa is appropriate to the situation, often based on information provided by the Chinese host organization. If the wrong visa has been issued, it can be corrected in China for an additional fee. If your family is accompanying you, they will be issued a visa after the authorization for yours comes through. You will need to send the consulate your family members' passports and a letter of invitation from the host organization. An ordinary single-entry visa, with a two-week waiting period, is $10; one with a three-day waiting period is $20; and a 24-hour request costs $30. The visa section does not ordinarily accept checks; prepare to pay in cash or by money order. For