It’s been a difficult two years for the worldwide community as it battles to get COVID-19 under control so we can get back to some semblance of normal. And if you have been trying to get back to China during this period, you know it’s been a difficult route paved with so many unforeseen restrictions and measures. Even now, it’s hardly a cakewalk and you need to apply for an invitation letter, otherwise known as a PU letter or TE letter, just to get back in China as a foreigner.
But what is a PU invitation letter? How can I obtain one? And how will it allow me to visit, or live and work in China once again? Let’s find out everything there is to know about applying for a PU letter so you can defeat COVID in your own individual way.
How Can I Get into China Post-COVID 19?
When China first announced it was closing its borders to prevent the spread of COVID on 28 March 2020, it was seen as a temporary measure to get back to normality as soon as possible. No one could’ve foreseen what was about to happen, and no one could have known these types of restrictions on movements would be worldwide and still exist in varying forms over two years later.
Entry into China was suspended even for foreign nationals with China residence permits or even valid visas. The only foreigners allowed into China during this period were those who engage in necessary reasons such as trade officials, economic ministers, scientific experts, certain organizations offering humanitarian aid and support, and those partaking in innovative and important technological advancements. Aside from that. Almost everyone was incapable of gaining access to China. Even now, you can only get into China with a PU invitation letter.
What is a PU Letter to Enter China?
Chinese authorities announced that to gain entry to the country, a foreigner must apply for an invitation letter from the China Foreign Affairs Office. This is essentially a PU letter. However, there are stringent standards that must be met to obtain one. The Official Office must first decide whether your entry to China is a necessity or not. This will seriously limit the type of foreign personage now allowed into the country.
For instance, senior managers of major companies and enterprises or key researchers on technical projects are pretty much the only ones who will get approved by the Chinese government. If you do not fit these strict criteria, you will probably be barred from entering at this time. And even those who do meet the standards can expect to undergo a “nucleic acid test report’ to get any kind of authorization that will take place just 5 days before getting on the plane to visit China.
Four Nucleic Acid Tests for Foreign Arrivals to China
Once you are authorized and arrive in Mainland China, you can then expect to be quarantined for 14 days under strict supervision that is ordered by the Chinese Health Authorities. Since 2021, the vast majority of Chinese cities have incorporated the 14+7 process that needs foreign arrivals to be tested 4 times for COVID-19.
The first nucleic acid test will be administered on the initial arrival date, then another on the 7 th and 14th days, with the final test taking place 21 days after you initially arrived. And once you have cleared those obstacles, you are allowed to go out into the general populous.
How Can I Apply for PU Letters?
Now you understand the hoops you need to jump through and the protocol of a foreign arrival visiting China, you now need to know how to apply for a PU invitation letter. This type of invitation letter can only be issued by the Foreign Affairs Office or the Commission of Commerce that is located in your company’s region. Please carefully read this step-by-step guide to applying for a PU letter so it’s clear what you need to do.
This section is only for registered companies in China:
- The company will need to officially contact the Foreign Affairs Office in your own region (Company Business License). The office will then give you the exact contact information that fits your own company and its location.
- You will then need to submit an application letter in Chinese to the relevant contacts given to you. The government will then thoroughly examine the application in order to verify the request. Just remember that the application letter is the most important thing to secure a PU letter, so ensure that the letter doesn’t have any errors and is written in the best Chinese (Mandarin) to adequately explain the reason why you are applying for it.
- Once the relevant personnel in the local government has approved the letter, you need to submit a photocopy of the foreign person’s passport along with the information sheet on why they are coming to China, the time and itinerary schedule of the visit, and any other required supporting documents to your local Foreign Affairs Office.
- When the PU invitation letter is issued, you can now send that directly to the foreigner in question.
- Now the foreigner can take that PU invitation letter to a Chinese embassy/consulate in their home country to apply for an M-visa.
Can Family Members Apply for PU Letters?
Although the issuance of PU letters is largely resigned to mid and large-level corporate enterprises bringing in staff or experts, it is possible for foreign family members who need to visit China to apply for a PU letter. They can apply for the letter to separately visit Chine or even to go to school in China, which is usually for foreign children. It’s also possible to apply for one if you take care of the daily life of the employed, such as wives and parents. You can apply to return to China if you are a foreigner with a family already in China.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for PU Letters?
Be prepared, or be prepared to fail. This phrase couldn’t be more apt when applying for PU invitation letters in China. You need to get all your ducks in line and every stone needs to be turned over and analyzed. Here is a list of the docs you need to prepare before you apply for PU letters.
Application Letter from the Registrar Chinese Company
You can get the corresponding application letter template directly from the foreign affairs office. As the application letter is the most important part of obtaining a PU letter, you must list a real and thorough explanation of the purpose of the invitation. If you are looking to bring along your family, you must mention that the employee who works for the Chinese company is the main reason for inviting the family members.
Fill in the Application Form in Chinese
Fill in the Application Form If you do not fill in the application form in Chinese (Mandarin), your PU letter will no doubt be rejected from the get-go. The Chinese template will be provided to you by the Foreign Affairs Office.
Use the Company Information Form
You can obtain and fill in the Company Information Form that will be supplied to you by the Foreign Affairs Office.
Photocopy of the Passport
Make sure you create a scanned photocopy of the passport of the foreign national that is being invited into China. The copy only needs to have the basic passport information, but it must be valid for a least 6 months or the PU letter will be rejected.
Family Relationship Certificate is Needed
If family members are included in the PU letter application, you will need to obtain a ‘Family Relationship Certificate”. To get this, you will need to have marriage certification and even birth certificates of any children that are included. If any of those certificates are in English, you must prepare an official Chinese translation and the prerequisite notarizations that confirm these documents.
Form for Enterprise information Backgrounds
You can get an Enterprise Information Background form from a template issued by the Foreign Affairs Office.
Check for Additional Documentation
Each case is different depending on if families and children are included in the PU application letter. There can be so many variables, and you don’t want to leave everything to the last minute or Lady Luck. Check with your local Foreign Affairs Office to see if any additional or supporting documents are needed.
Welcome Back to China
It’s been a difficult couple of years for separated families or foreigners who need to come back to China to work or for personal reasons. At this moment in time, a PU letter is the only way you are going to get back in. And in all honesty, in most cases, those are only reserved for experts or employees who work for mid-level and larger enterprises or multinational companies.
You need to get your PU application letter right or it will be rejected. A failure to follow the above protocols and processes will ensure you fail. Be prepared and ready, and always get your paperwork correct and translated into the best quality Mandarin Chinese possible.