Overstaying or illegal residence means that a person has entered the country on a valid visa or residence permit but remained in the country past the visa or residence permit expiration date.
For instance, if a foreign national enters China on August 20 with a 30-day visa, they are supposed to leave on or before September 19. The foreign national would be deemed to have overstayed if they remain in China on or after September 20 at 00:00.
Some people have asked: “What if my flight departure is on September 20 at 1:00 AM, but I go to clear immigration on September 19 at 09:00 PM?”
The answer is “You will be viewed as having overstayed your visa because the scheduled time on your departure ticket is later than your visa’s expiration time, so you will not be able to clear immigration without going through the overstaying procedure.” However, if your flight departure time is on September 19 at 11:00 PM, but the carrier changes the schedule to say September 20 at 01:00 AM (due to some sort of delay) then you will not be considered having overstayed.
Some have claimed that there is a grace period for visa overstaying and the answer is incorrect. There is ABSOLUTELY no grace period for overstaying a visa in China and it is regarded as a serious offence. There might be some clemency if you have overstayed your visa by a maximum of one or two days if you go to the Exit and Entry Administration of the Local Public Security Bureau to apologize and explain your reasons. Remember to be polite, ask for forgiveness, and no matter what, do not challenge back any decision made as you are already in the wrong and you will just make your situation even worse.
If you have overstayed your visa, there are different levels of punishment based on the length of overstay.
1. If the overstaying period is short (not exceeding a month) you will be given a warning, be required to pay a fine, and possibly given an exit visa. The penalty is set at 500 RMB per day with a maximum of 10,000 RMB. The penalty is to be paid in cash or through a local Chinese bank card. Foreign issued cards are not accepted.
2. If the overstaying period is over a month, the consequences are heavier: you will be detained for a period of 5 to 15 days and then deported back to the home country. Even worse, you run the risk of being blacklisted or even banned from entering China for up to ten years. Not to mention that this bad record can affect visa application for other countries because it is recorded in a database that is shared by all embassies and consulates around the world.
With that laid out, if you are indeed in an overstaying situation then you should report to the local police station as soon as possible, pay the penalty, and then apply for an exit permit to be able to leave the country.
The exact consequences are determined by the officer that is involved in your case. For example, in situation two, you could have the same punishment as in situation one or it could be much worse. There are also other factors that the officer may consider such as the type of visa that you hold, your visa history and entry/exit, your nationality, your personality, and how you handle the situation, etc.
It is important to remember that while Germans, Americans, Brits, and many other countries people enjoy the benefits of their respective passports with a visa wavier entry into many countries, this does not mean that the entry is guaranteed. This just means that for short term visits a visa is not required. The officer at a country’s border could still decline your entry. If your situation from China is in the database it could increase a problem for you when going to other countries.
To avoid any overstaying situation, you should remember your date of entering the country based on the entry stamp on the passport and the length of your visa. Make sure to time your departure between at least 2 or 3 days in advance to avoid cases of flights delays or cancellations.
If you hold a residence permit, you should allow the proper time in advance for submitting and receiving the related documents before you can reapply for the residence permit. It is important to remember that different cities have different requirements for this.
For some, such as Shanghai, as long as your application is submitted for the residence permit before the date of your residence permit expiry, then there is no problem, but this is not true for other cities where the entire process must be completed before. Furthermore, since earlier this year, there is a 30 day period before the expiry of which your residence permit application must be submitted for renewal, but some cities more tightly enforce this than others.