If someone has a valid and unused Chinese visitor (L) visa, can they apply for another Chinese visa (of a different type)? A Russian friend of mine recently attempted to apply for a work visa at the Chinese consulate in Irkutsk, Russia, and was told by someone working there that she could not apply for a new visa until either she used her existing visitor visa, or the existing visitor visa expired (in 3 months).

So, what is the rule? Does she have to use the existing visitor visa or wait for it to expire, or can she have two visas at the same time? Any documentation on this would be greatly appreciated.


The only information I have found so far that relates to this subject is from VisaRite, which seems to suggest you can indeed apply for a new visa with a valid, unused other visa:

I applied for single entry visa. Now I changed travel plan and I need to enter China twice, Is it possible to change the visa to double entry and just pay the extra amount. Unfortunately, visa once issued can not be changed. You will have to apply for a new visa. You need to go through the whole visa application process and pay the fee for the new visa again.

  • IMHO this should be migrated to expats.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 18, 2015 at 6:32
  • @JoErNanO this is 100% a visa question, completely germane to this site. Nov 18, 2015 at 6:32
  • 2
    Yes but the visa in question is a work visa.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 18, 2015 at 6:33
  • @JoErNanO my guess is that the visa type for this question doesn't actually matter, I'm just trying to provide 100% transparent information Nov 18, 2015 at 6:34
  • 2
    @davidvc Kinda-maybe-sorta. Travel.SE covers short term travel, visiting other countries. Expats covers moving to and living in other countries. I've seen, for example, working-holiday and short-term study (<3 months) questions be entertained happily enough on here.
    – CMaster
    Nov 18, 2015 at 10:03

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can. I have applied for a business visa while having a still valid visitor visa. Please note that for US citizens China issues a 10 year visitor visas, so according to the friend one could not visit China for any non-tourist purpose without either visiting China as a tourist, or waiting for ten years. This does not make any practical sense.

  • Had you used your visitor's visa to enter China at least once before applying for the business visa? One of the two stipulations mentioned was having used the visitors visa before applying.
    – user13044
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:22
  • No, I have not.
    – George Y.
    Sep 30, 2016 at 23:48

This could vary from embassy to embassy. The one in Switzerland says on its FAQ page (question 49):

Since examination work were done with your application, you have to pay for the single-entry visa although you don't want it any more. And if you need double-entry, please apply for new double-entry visa with a set of new documents and follow the same application procedure as you did last time.

This implies that at least there you can get a new visa even with a valid, unused one.

In any case, it would be weird not to allow this, for reasons pointed out by George Y

If I were your friend, I'd contact the Chinese embassy in Moscow and ask them about this.

Was it even a visa officer in Irkutsk that refused to consider an application for your friend? Often ordinary clerks will spout rubbish before you even get to the visa officer

  • Your example is simply changing the visa limits (single to multiple), not changing type of visa.
    – user13044
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:24

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