What is the difference between a foreigner’s residence permit and a visa?

There are significant differences between foreign residence permits and visas in multiple aspects. The following is a detailed explanation of these differences:

Purpose and nature:
Visa: It is an entry and exit document issued to foreigners who come to China, used to prove their identity and purpose of coming to China, while allowing the holder to stay in China according to the stated duration of stay on the visa. The nature of a visa is a foreign entry and exit document.
Residence permit: It is a residence permit issued to foreigners who meet the requirements for long-term residence in China for more than 180 days. The nature of a residence permit is a foreigner’s residence permit, which allows foreigners to reside in China for a long time.

Issuing authority:
Visa: The issuing authorities are foreign embassies and consulates and domestic public security agencies.
Residence permit: The issuing authority is the domestic public security organs.

Stay period:
Visa: The validity and duration of stay may vary depending on the type of visa. Generally speaking, the validity period of a visa can be 3 months, 6 months, or other periods, while the stay period can range from 7 days, 14 days, 30 days, 59 days, etc.
Residence permit: The validity period is generally more than one year, and can reach 3-5 years.

Application conditions and process:
Visa: To apply for a visa, you need to submit relevant documents related to the reason for leaving the country (such as invitation letters, guarantees, etc.), and go through the process of submitting a valid passport, scheduling an interview, etc.

Residence permit: To apply for a residence permit, relevant proof materials (such as work contract, school certificate, etc.) related to the purpose of residence need to be submitted, and the application should be submitted to the entry and exit management agency of the public security organ in the intended place of residence within 30 days from the date of entry. The public security organs will review the submitted materials and issue a residence permit after approval.

Renewal and Extension:
Visa: If it is necessary to extend the stay period of the visa, an application should be made to the entry and exit management agency of the public security organs of the local people’s government at or above the county level in the place of stay 7 days before the expiration of the stated stay period on the visa.
Residence permit: If it is necessary to renew the residence permit within the country, an application should be submitted to the entry and exit management agency of the public security organ 30 days before the expiration of the validity period of the residence permit, and relevant proof materials related to the reason for the application should be provided.
There are significant differences between foreign residence permits and visas in terms of purpose, nature, issuing authority, duration of stay, application conditions and procedures, as well as renewal and extension. Visas are mainly used for short-term entry and exit of foreigners, while residence permits allow foreigners to reside in China for a long time.

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