China International Student Covid Update Timeline

This is part of our weekly tracker of Covid updates for international students of Chinese universities.

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Timeline of News and Events for International Students

  • On Dec 28, 2022 – China announced that from 8th January, China is changing its COVID-19 entry requirements for all travellers entering the country.
    • Note that eligibility for visas for travel to China remains restricted. Please register your email for updates on this page for further updates.
    • There will be no quarantine for inbound passengers to China.
    • Inbound passengers will still need a negative nucleic acid test 48 hours before departure and have to wear protective masks onboard flights,
    • If you are due to arrive in China on or after 8 January 2023, China time, you will need a negative PCR test. You must submit your negative PCR test result by filling in the Health Declaration Form via the China Customs website, or through the China Customs App or WeChat account.
    • Anyone reporting a positive test result will not be permitted to board a flight to China.
    • Source, Source, Source, Chinese
  • On Nov 18, 2022, Shenzhen University confirmed with China Admissions that they will be issuing JW202s (an essential form to apply for a Chinese visa) to Chinese language students in their semester programs from Spring 2023.
    • SZU reminds students that they cannot guarantee the visa application will be successful because of the restrictions, but Chinese language students will be able to apply with the JW202.
    • Current SZU Chinese language students can contact the university for more information. If you want to apply to the SZU Chinese program, click here.
  • On Nov 15, 2022, A number of Chinese cities have suspended mass PCR testing (including Shanghai, Sanya, Dalian, Fuzhou, Shijiazhuang, and Hefei) (source, source, Chinese)
    • However, routine PCR testing and general screening will continue.
  • On Nov 11, 2022, China released new Covid guidelines (Chinese, English summary). Here are the most relevant points:
    • Quarantine time for people entering China has reduced to 5+3 (click here for an explanation of that)
    • “Circuit Breaker policy” canceled–flights with more than 4% of positive cases will not be canceled for a cool off period anymore
    • Close contacts of positive cases in China will also only complete 5+3 quarantine instead of 7+3
    • Arbitrary lockdown and closure of schools is banned.
    • Only 1 negative PRC test within 48 hours before boarding.
    • However, the Zero-Covid Policy is overall still in effect. Cities with outbreaks are still entering serious lockdowns.
  • On Oct 30, we joined an online webinar to talk about how students can return to China, discuss the pros and cons of studying in China today, and the career market for international students.
  • On Oct 16, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held in Beijing. This important meeting usually reveals new policy directions for China–but there is still officially no change on the Zero-Covid policy.
    • People’s Daily commentaries the days before the Congress promoted the Zero-Covid policy (source).
    • Xi Jinping praised the Zero-Covid policy in his speech (source).
  • 🇮🇳 As of October 12, over 1300 Indian students have been granted visas to return to China (source, source)
  • As of September 22, 2022, Hong Kong has completely ended hotel quarantine and now has a 0+3 policy (source).
    • 0+3 means zero days in hotel quarantine, and 3 days of home health monitoring in apartment, dorm, or other hotel.
    • “This means that people heading to Hong Kong from abroad or the Chinese mainland will not need to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine, but instead three days of health monitoring at home.”
  • As of September 20, 2022, we have seen reports that more and more students are entering China from a variety of countries and arriving in cities across China (source, source, source, source, source)
    • These students are undergoing quarantine and registering at their universities in person.
    • Make sure you follow your university’s social media, stay in contact with other students and teachers, and follow all Chinese anti-epidemic procedures correctly.
  • As of September 8, 2022, 125 Indonesian students arrived in Guangzhou from Indonesia (source).

  • As of August 12, 2022, we have heard from a few more students that they are being called back to China by their universities or having their information/vaccine status collected, including ZUST, HUST, Peking University, and more. The students are being contacted directly and individually by their universities.
    • It is very important to check your university email and be patient. Universities will open to different students and departments at different dates and we have no control over that process.
  • 🇲🇳 As of August 8, 2022, The Mongolian and Chinese sides issued a joint statement: “The two sides agreed to … increase direct flights between the two countries to facilitate personnel exchanges, and support Mongolian students in returning to China to resume classes at an early date.” (source)
    • A timeline has not been announced.
    • Mongolian students can contact their embassy or university for more information.
  • As of August 8, 2022, the Twitter account of Ji Rong of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a new policy is coming soon for all students to return to China (source). It has been confirmed by other Chinese MFA spokespeople on Twitter.
    • This policy has not been formally implemented yet. Students should not depend on this policy yet because it has not been formally announced.
    • It is unknown what the exact contents of this policy will be. A timeline is also unknown.

  • 🇧🇩 As of August 8, 2022, Bangladesh and China announced Bangladeshi students are able to apply for visas and return to China (source)
  • As of July 26, 2022, multiple news outlets reported on Premier Li Keqiang’s announcement that all students can return to China. (source, source, Chinese source)
    • These policy changes may take a months-years to take effect for all students.
    • China will need to increase available flights, increase quarantine hotel capacity for students, and increasingly allow embassies to process student X visas–the process will need patience.
    • We expect that the trend of slowly opening group by group will continue throughout 2022, but most students will not be able to return to China in time for the fall 2022 semester.
  • 🇮🇩 As of July 26, 2022, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that “China and Indonesia will accelerate the resumption of people-to-people exchanges, including the return of Indonesian students to China; open more direct flights; and beef up cooperation in such fields as education.” (source)
  • As of July 25, 2022, We received confirmation that more and more Chinese universities are emailing students with information on how to return to China.
    • All students should check their email and communicate with their classmates regularly as more information is delivered.
  • 🇨🇷 🇺🇾 As of July 14, 2022, the Chinese embassies of Costa Rica and Uruguay posted that the following students may “in principle” apply for student visas:
    • “In principle, foreign students from the 147 Chinese universities qualified as “Double First Class” and students with scholarships from the Chinese Government can apply for visas to China.”  (Costa Rica, Uruguay)
    • Please Note: “In principle” does not mean “guaranteed.” Even if Chinese visa policy has changed for these two countries, it make take a few weeks/months for the changes to take effect and X visas to be granted.
    • Students from these two countries should contact their embassies and universities to learn more.
  • As of July 4, 2022, more students are reporting to us that their Chinese universities have contacted them to collect details about whether they want to return to China.
      • We recommend all students check their email, university portal, and university message board/WeChat groups frequently and reply to any university communication right away.
      • This seems to indicate more universities may be planning to bring back students, and are collecting the relevant information to begin the process.
  • As of June 30, 2022, a few Tianjin University students notified China Admissions that their university contacted them to ask if they want to return to China.
    • We encourage all students, especially those of Tianjin University, to check their emails regularly.
  • As of June 28, 2022, China has changed the standard quarantine times for international arrivals from 14+7 to 7+3 (7 days in centralized quarantine and 3 days of home monitoring). (source, source, original Chinese)
    • This change will apply to all international arrivals (including students) and close contacts.
  • 🇱🇰 As of June 24, 2022, a flight of 164 Sri Lankan medical students from the Tianjin Medical University arrived in Tianjin (source).
  • 🇹🇭 As of June 22, 2022, a flight of 140 Thai students traveled to China with a chartered flight. (source)
    • This is the second batch of Thai students returning–the first batch was a flight of 76 in February.
    • Students will need to follow China’s Covid Restrictions (details on quarantine times and costs below)
  • 🇵🇰 As of June 20, 2022, the first batch of 90 Pakistani students has landed in Xi’an and will undergo 14-day quarantine (for more information on quarantine times and costs, please scroll down) (source, source).
  • 🇪🇬 As of June 9, 2022, the Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Cairo for Visa and Legalization posted on their site that they will accept X (student) visas.
    • Egyptian students can contact the Chinese embassy to Egypt or their university for more information.
    • It is unclear at this stage whether any student visas have actively been issued yet for Egyptian students.

  • 🇺🇸 As of June 9, 2022, USA Chinese Government Scholarship recipients have received communication from their embassy that they can apply for student visas to enter China in Fall 2022 (source).
    • The PRC Consulate in NYC told us that they never received such notice. USA CSC recipients, please be in close communication with your university and embassy.
    • X Visa applications may still not be open yet for this group.
  • As of June 2, 2022, some Duke Kunshan University (DKU) students are confirmed to be able to enter China (source).
    • Like NYU Shanghai and Schwarzman Scholarship fellowship, DKU is a joint venture between Chinese universities and foreign partners.
    • These Sino-Foreign universities have generally been able to bring back a small number of students before others.

  • 🇮🇳 As of May 24, 2022, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed that the issue of Indian students’ return is a high priority. (source)
    • No further details were shared.
  • 🇵🇰 As of May 21, 2022, multiple news outlets confirmed 160 student visas have been issued to Pakistani students out of 250 total. (source)
    • The return of Pakistani students to China remains an ongoing priority, highlighted by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on May 22 (source)
  • As of May 18, 2022, the most severe lockdowns in Shanghai are expected to slowly lift in June (source, source), but China confirms it will not change Dynamic Zero-Covid policies.
    • A study by Fudan University (source) discovered that if Zero-Covid is lifted, 1.55 million deaths could occur in China.
    • Xi Jinping confirmed that China will not waver from Zero-Covid (source).
    • In Shanghai, strict epidemic prevention procedures will continue to prevent future serious outbreaks (source). Beijing is conduction regular mass testing (source).
  • As of May 4, 2022, some cities such as Beijing and Xiamen are experimenting with shorter quarantine times for overseas arrivals–from 14+7 to 10+7 (source, source).
  • 🇷🇺 As of May 3, 2022, a group of 150 Russian students are confirmed to have landed in China. (source, source)
    • Cities: the students will complete their initial 14+7 quarantine in hotels in Shenzhen and Harbin
    • Universities: the students are attending a variety of universities, including BFSU and Guangzhou South China University of Technology.
  • 🇮🇳 As of April 29, 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Education announced it will “consider facilitating the return of Indian students to China.” (source, source, source)
    • Indian students, fill out your information in this form by May 8, 2022:
    • The Chinese side will verify the list and decide which students can travel to China
    • Indian students traveling to China will bear all quarantine and travel expenses. For more on how to estimate the costs, scroll down to “Quarantine Times and Costs”
  • 🇵🇰 As of April 26, 2022, it is reported that some 200 visas are being issued for Pakistani students (source).
    • Not every Pakistani student has been contacted yet.
    • What date the visas will be issued and what date the students can fly to China has not yet been confirmed.
  • 🇱🇰 As of April 21, 2022, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing confirms that some Sri Lankan students are able to return to China
    • This notice has been removed from the Sri Lankan Embassy website. Though removed, it has not been denied by Beijing nor Sri Lanka. It is likely that Sri Lankan students will still be able to return, but without being publicized. (Sri Lankan students, please contact your embassy for more information)
    • 2 groups of students (number, university, and degree level unknown) have been finalized, with more to come.
  • As of April 19, 2022, International Students currently living in Hong Kong may be allowed to be exempt from certain quarantine requirements if they travel to Macao for university.
      • This guideline is only for foreign students traveling from HK to Macao.
  • As of April 14, 2022, China announced it will be sticking with its dynamic Covid-Zero strategy.
    • “China will stick to its dynamic zero COVID-19 policy as cases continue to spread, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission.”
  • As of April 5, 2022, China is battling a severe Omicron outbreak across multiple cities.
    • Shanghai is under strict lockdowns, and all Shanghai universities are closed with students taking online classes. (Source)
    • “An average of 11,023 cases per day were reported in China in the last week.” — NYTimes Data
    • Entry to China is very difficult even for those with valid visas.
  • As of March 21, 2022, 80+ Solomon Islander students are reported to have left for China as scholarship recipients (sourcesource). Like Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands switched their diplomatic affiliation from Taiwan to China. The students’ trip to China was planned since 2019 and has been delayed by Covid until now (sourcesource).
    • Like Nicaragua, this appears to be a diplomatic measure for the Solomon Islands after making the diplomatic switch and will not impact the situation of other students in the Pacific (See more).
  • As of March 18, 2022, some Thai students are supposed to have entered China (source). This information was delivered anonymously and thus we cannot confirm independently.
    • The Thai students (unknown number, unknown university) are said to have arrived in Shanghai for quarantine.
  • As of March, 2022, China is facing a serious wave of Omicron cases in key cities such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and others. Entry plans will likely be slowed down until the wave is over.
  • As of March 16, 2022, China is relaxing its Covid treatment protocols for the first time since 2020. Asymptomatic cases will no longer need to be hospitalized, and will instead just have to quarantine. Post-hospital isolation was shortened from 14 to 7 days. Additionally, the standard to be discharged from the hospital has been relaxed. (Original Chinese here)

Border opening timeline

  • As of March 14, 2022– Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced “On the basis of ensuring safety, it is coordinating arrangement for a small number of foreign students with actual needs to return to China in light of the changing international epidemic situation and the characteristics of the students’ majors.”
    • Health and safety are first priority. Zhao said: “The students concerned must strictly comply with China’s epidemic prevention protocols.”
    • More opening is likely to come. Zhao said: “We will…actively explore feasible options and gradually arrange for those with the need to return in an orderly fashion”
    • Read our full analysis on Global Admissions here.
  • As of March 4, 2022–Two Sessions: The springtime meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), starting March 4, is usually a time when policy proposals are considered and old policies may be adjusted. We are monitoring the policies that may be relevant to students.
    • March 5, 2022: President Xi Jinping said in his speech, “We should…give priority to epidemic control at port-of-entry areas, and ensure the bottom line that no large-scale resurgences arise.”

when can students go to China? new policies discussed at the Two Sessions Border opening timeline

  • As of March 1, 2022, multiple news outlets and experts reported China is considering moving away from the “Dynamic Zero-Covid” policy (Sources here: SupChinaWall Street JournalSCMP). A new Covid-19 plan is possibly in the research and planning stages, yet and no concrete dates/changes have been announced so far. But it won’t change any time soon: Global Times defended the Zero-Covid strategy in a March 4 article.

  • 🇮🇳 As of Feb 22, 2022, the Indian Embassy in Beijing announced that the Chinese MFA “conveyed that they will work on Indian students’ early return to China in a coordinated manner.” The issue of Indian medical students not being able to sit the FMGE with online degrees was also formally conveyed to the Chinese side. Additionally, “All Indian nationals who are intending to travel to China are advised to remain in touch with the Chinese Embassy in Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata for further information.”
  • 🇳🇮 As of Feb 8, 2022, 30 Nicaraguan scholarship holders entered China to continue their studies “in various branches,” Nicaraguan news media reports. The students (degree level and field of study unknown) traveled from Hong Kong to Shanghai, and onward to their final study destinations in Beijing and Wuhan.
    • Context: In December, Nicaragua ended relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with the PRC. There is no report of further entry opportunities for other Nicaraguan or South American students.
  • 🇸🇬 As of Feb 7, 2022, Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China is prepared to gradually return two-way travel with Singapore, including students.
  • 🇵🇰 As of Feb 6, 2022, China and Pakistan announced in a joint statement: “While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner.” No specific date of return has yet been clarified.
  • As of Jan 4, 2022, the China International Student Union posted the results of a survey about returning to China on their Twitter account. 76% of Russian student respondents reported their university notified them they could return to China in batches throughout the spring, but no clear date was given.
    • Russian students also reported they would need to pay for quarantine fees for approximately 21 days of quarantine (note: quarantine times change by city and province).
    • March 10 note: Given the current war between Russia and Ukraine, the return of Russian students is at this point still unconfirmed.

Border opening timeline

  • 🌏 As of Dec 10, 2021, the Global Times posted that travel may resume within Asian countries from 3-6 months. However, China has said it will continue its “zero-Covid” policy.
  • 🇲🇾 As of Dec 6, 2021, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has said that Malaysian students may be able to return to China soon for their studies. There has not been a confirmed date or other information, but it indicates a high degree of confidence and collaboration between the Malaysian and Chinese governments. We advise Malaysian students to keep an eye on the news.


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Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman
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