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I'm a French citizen and I'm currently living in New York City with a 3 years work visa and would like to visit China for a week in October.

Can I apply for a tourism visa from the US (New York) without going back to France?

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Yes, you can, according to the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York (emphasis mine):

For entry into China, aliens shall apply for visas from Chinese diplomatic missions, consular posts or other resident agencies abroad authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as Chinese Embassies or Consulates. Each Embassy or consulate has its own consular districts. Usually, applicants are required to apply for visas from the relevant Embassy or Consulate. Applicants also can apply for visas at the nearest Embassy or Consulate.

Applicants who reside or travel away from the country of his or her nationality can apply for visas at a local Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

The New York City Consulate is located at 520 12th Avenue (between West 42nd and 43rd).

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    To apply for a Chinese Visa in a country other than your home country, requires proof of legal residence in that country. In the OPs case, a copy of the visa should fulfill that rule. But the amount of proof varies from country to country, some Chinese Embassies requiring work permits, some only requiring a proper entry stamp in your passport. – user13044 Sep 12 '16 at 1:34
  • @Tom if the consulate knows what they're doing, they'll ask for a printout of the online I-94 record, and possibly for other documents related to employment status. A visa by itself proves very little. – phoog Sep 12 '16 at 19:08
  • @phoog - Each consulate and embassy seems to set their own rules on how much proof is required (or maybe different policies come down from Beijing for each country). How accurate that check is, is of no consequence, as the consular officials only have to follow the policy in effect. In this particular case, the OP obviously has a proper visa for residing in the country, probably has a proper entry stamp allowing him to be here, so likely has the necessary qualifications to apply for his Chinese visa here. – user13044 Sep 13 '16 at 1:38
  • @Tom of course. I'm just saying that a valid US visa proves next to nothing about whether someone is "in status" in the US. The Chinese might be satisfied with a valid US visa, but if so, they're not being very rigorous about checking the immigration status of the applicant. Whether the policy is decided locally or dictated from on high is incidental to my comment. The practical reason for my comment, though, was to suggest printing the I-94 record as additional evidence of legal status -- this would be particularly important if the visa were expired. – phoog Sep 13 '16 at 1:56
  • @phoog - Then why not just say that, "suggest bringing a copy of the I-94" rather than nitpicking the embassy policy? This post is about applying for a visa, not how accurately the Chinese do their job. – user13044 Sep 13 '16 at 2:23

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