There's been a lot of talk about China's new visa changes, implemented on September 1 this year, but what is not so commonly discussed is China's new Port Visa, which allows you to apply at the moment of entry into China, without handing in your passport.
Port Visa, also called Landing Visa, (口岸签证 in Chinese) means a Visa that is applied for directly in Shanghai, or more specifically through the Shanghai Entry-Exit Administration bureau.
The Port Visa can either be applied for when the person actually arrives in Shanghai, or in advance through for example a company in Shanghai on behalf of the person in question. It’s recommended to apply for a Port Visa in advance.
Pros & Cons
So what is the advantage of applying for a Port Visa instead of applying for a Visa through the Chinese Embassy in your home country? The main advantage is that the application time is short (normally 3-5 days incl. holidays but can be sped up in urgent cases) and that you never have to send your passport for the visa application process.
The disadvantage is that the Shanghai Entry-Entry Administration bureau only can issue certain types of Visa (C,F,M,Q2,S2,R and L) and that the visa length will at the most be for 30 days with 1 entry into China (meaning a possible extension of 30 more days after entering China the 2nd time on the same Port Visa).
After the required documents are submitted (invitation letter, passport scan etc) and the Port Visa is issued, a port visa notification letter will serve as proof of a Port Visa to China. The notification letter will be valid for 30 days. By printing out a copy of the notification letter the person may board an airplane abroad and fly into China. However the Port Visa is only valid in the city where it has been issued, so a Port Visa issued from Shanghai will only let the person enter into China through Shanghai.
Places in Shanghai where Port visa currently can be applied for when arriving in China:
Hongqiao Airport T1, Pudong Airport T1 and T2, Shanghai Intl passenger port, Wusong port. For application of Port Visa in advance the Shanghai Entry-Exit Administration bureau will handle it. They also have an online service for Port Visa application. Note that Shanghai Entry-Exit administration department will normally only handle applications for companies within Shanghai.