If you attend a short-term language program in China (usually about 16 to 18 weeks), you apply for a student visa, which is valid for 6 months.

However, many universities let you pay the tuition fee only after you arrive in China. The application costs about 400 RMB, but it's still way cheaper than the tuition fee (about 6,000 to 13,000 RMB).

Now, I consider applying for the program and then not attend the university course, which means I do NOT pay the tuition fee.

My question:

  • Does this break the law and/or cause any potential side-effect, such as a future ban on entry?

  • How about if I pay the tuition but don't attend the program?

The reason is the student visa is incredibly attractive to travel around China for longer periods, since the tourism visa covers (generally) only up to 30 days.

  • 3
    Most countries make lying about your intentions on a visa application illegal. Foreigners in China are required to register where they stay overnight. If you stay at a normal tourist hotel, you just hand over your passport for a few minutes at check-in. I don't know if China does any checks on whether your actual locations match your visa application. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 21 '17 at 1:26
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The visa you get is not a six-month visa. It is a one-entry visa that enables you to enter China, go to the University, pay the application fee, get the documents and then apply for your six-month residence permit (which includes the medical visit). This has to be done within 15 days, if memory serves. Failing this, you're breaking the law, and when you exit China, Immigration will have things to say. Not nice things.

Furthermore, if you register for class, but don't attend, you might also get in trouble. Police checks regularly attendance records - and expels students who have a low attendance record.

Bottom line, don't. If you want to travel in China, get two-entry visas, which will give you 2 x 30 days, in Hong Kong. This will enable you to travel for an extended period without breaking the law.

  • Thanks but that is different from what I have heard. Do you have any sources on "Police checks regularly attendance records - and expels students who have a low attendance record."? – Blaszard Dec 21 '17 at 17:34
  • Also then what is the reason to apply for the visa? Just entering without visa and registering once in China sounds enough for me, but the Chinese authorities require the visa. – Blaszard Dec 21 '17 at 17:37
  • @Blaszard I have friends currently studying in a Chinese university. There have been students being expelled quite regularly in the last few terms, and the University reinforced its warnings to students during registration time. I don't know if the law is applied equally strongly everywhere, but knowing the Chinese police, it might well be... – dda Dec 21 '17 at 17:41
  • The visa to enter China for residence purposes (work, study, etc) is actually a pre-approval of your residence. Which is why it is a one-time, one-way visa. With that, you can't be refused entry in China (whereas with a tourist/business visa, there always is a possibility). But once you enter the country, register, do the medical tests, etc, you receive then another sticker in your passport, which is your residence permit. This is your real "visa", valid for 6 months or one year. – dda Dec 21 '17 at 17:44
  • I'm now in China but actually, the after-the-entry procedure did not happen. The stay is 4.5 months and I already stayed 2.5 months, FYI. – Blaszard May 20 at 18:49

I experienced this whole process and asked my teacher about it in detail.

First, X2 is effective for 180 days from the entry and I did not experience such procedure as @dda mentioned. The application for the residence permit is only for those who have X1, in which case you must go to police station (actually, the police station that controls immigrants - 出入境管理处, not any police station). However, X2 holders don't need it and can't get residence permit. The visa for the short-term (one-semester) language program is X2. There is no medical test for me.

Moreover, you can travel to other cities in China during the class. It depends on each university (or maybe each province) how strict the attendance rule is. In my case, the attendance rate must be above 70% and otherwise the university has the right to "expel" students. However, this is pretty lax and it is said that no one is actually expelled in my university, though some were warned about the low attendance rate. My classmates didn't reach the attendance rate, but were not expelled. The only student that my teacher keeps warning is a student who is going to enroll the undergraduate program (本科生) from the next semester, in which case the student has a chance to lose the right of enrollment.

Some of my classmates attended another university in the past, and they said there were not such strict attendance rules.

The university must report the attendance rate to the local government, and if you have low attendance rate, it is possible that your next visa would get rejected, or otherwise you have in trouble, though.

Many students in my class often traveled to other cities, for 1 to 2 weeks usually, and multiple times. Some students in my class attend as low as 30% but never got expelled. Also, many students don't attend class even though they don't travel, as these students came to China just for party.

I'm still not sure if it "breaks the law" to ignore the payment completely, but at least once you pay, you can travel to other cities.

  • 1
    Good to know. Wasn't aware X2 doesn't require/give right to residence permit. – dda Jul 28 at 17:29

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