Your initial visa grants you the right to enter China for a specific purpose, but expires after a few months. If you wish to stay longer in China, you will need to apply for a residence permit which works like a multiple-entry visa, allowing you to leave the country and return without an additional visa as long as the permit remains valid (even if your original visa has expired).
There are three types of residence permits that allow you to live in China:
- Permanent residence permits (little green booklets) are issued to those holding a D visa and are renewable every 10 years.
- Temporary residence permits are valid for 6-12 months. Generally required for visiting scholars or those entering for job training.
- Foreigner Residence Permits are normally valid for one year and are renewable annually. They are the standard residence permits issued to the majority of foreigners working in China.
In order to receive a residence permit, you will have to provide the following documentation:
- Your passport with the respective visa matching the residence permit you are applying for
- A passport photo
- Your Residence Registration
- The respective application form
- If applicable, your job contract and work permit
Physical Exam Certificate
In theory, you are required to present a physical examination certificate in order to obtain a residence permit (the Chinese embassy lists them as required documents for residence visas). However, on many occasions people are not asked to submit the paperwork. The best advice is therefore to wait until when and if you are asked for the certificate.