I have a 10-year China visa that has a 2-month limit on each stay. I usually take the opportunity to do a quick trip somewhere and see some friends around Asia, but sometimes I don't have the time to do this. Today I am making a quick 1-day trip to Korea and back, but I've started to wonder if there is a loophole.

If I book a cheap flight, go through immigration and get my exit stamp, is that enough? Could I "conveniently" miss my flight, the last of the day, and be allowed to pass through immigration, as if I just arrived on a flight, and be granted re-entry? Do I need to physically board the plane to complete the process or do they already consider I have left the country?

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    Are we just talking about China here?
    – Gayot Fow
    Jan 5, 2017 at 6:28
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    What are you going to fill in for Flight No/Ship Name/Train no arrived on? Are you going to sign next to the bit that says "I hereby declare the statement given above is true and accurate"?
    – Berwyn
    Jan 5, 2017 at 7:21
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    I would check whether your usual visa-run behavior is strictly legal and accepted for your visa type before trying this. Not taking the flight will set up an unusual situation, and there will be a lot more scrutiny than if you were just arriving with a visa in the normal way. Jan 5, 2017 at 9:33
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    I have no personal experience with this kind of tricks, certainly not in China, and I have heard about some SE Asian countries where this is tolerated but do realise that doing a visa run is already using a loophole! So if I had to do that, I wouldn't take any additional risk or attract attention to my situation in any way.
    – Relaxed
    Jan 5, 2017 at 10:33
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    My understanding is that China has been growing more strict about visa shenanigans--attempting to catch people that should be on work visas but aren't. I wouldn't want to go waiving a flag in front of them! Jan 5, 2017 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


Trying to avoid your visa run by just passing immigration is inviting trouble you don't want to have.

Work your plans out ahead of time and enjoy a day of vacation in somewhere nice!

From your question I read that you are living permanently in China, i.e. that you have a long-term rent contract there and probably also some type of work (promotion, teaching English, the usual suspects...). This at least used to be standard practice and tolerated by the officials, but rules/attitudes have changed recently. So while the visa runs you are doing used to be a part of popular culture, they are maybe not so advisable anymore.
This just as an intro as to why you might want to avoid additional scrutiny by the officials.

Because additional scrutiny (and plenty of it) is what you will get when you attempt this hack. As you state you have to fill in a yellow arrival card every time you do a visa run, and there you have to put down the vessel number you arrived with. I know that the immigration officials have a system in place that checks flight bookings (for the 72h visa-free transit) against names and they could have no problem checking if you arrived on the vessel you did claim, maybe even in real time while you are at the immigration desk. And there is where you get into trouble, as you have never really left the country, you are effectively overstaying and violating the terms of your visa. That is a bad thing. Next time you have any official business with immigration (and you have frequently as you have to do the visa runs), you will be anxious if they have found out and taken consequences. Avoid all of this trouble by going somewhere nice, or do the quick Jinmen, HK or Mongolia runs mentioned above if need be.

And one more practical issue: from as far as I can recall airside arrivals and departures are separated at least in PVG, so you might have extra scrutiny already when trying to get out of the airport again.

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