Some visas, most notably Work, Student and Long Stay Journalist visas (Z, X, J-1) are normally for 30 days and for a single entry, though it might actually say zero entries – don't worry about that. This allows you to enter and begin the process of obtaining a Temporary Residence Permit, usually for up to 5 years – depending on the contract or course length. This Permit will allow you unlimited exits and re-entries.
So, the Temporary Residence Permit is in reality a visa by another name. It is pasted into your passport exactly like a visa and looks almost the same and permits you unlimited exit and entry during its validity
If you arrive on a work visa or student visa you will be working for an accredited employer of foreigners or attending an academic institution accredited for running courses for foreigners. Long stay journalists will also have an organization they are linked to - only they can provide the support you need to get these visas. All these organizations should have staff who know the system and should accept responsibility for organizing the application though they will need your input and co-operation.
Within 24 hours of arrival on one of these visas you should try to ensure that your organization (usually someone from its Foreign Affairs Office) creates an appointment to take you to the police station for the area you will be living in to register you as a resident in their area - this is a legal requirement. However, don't panic if the organization waits a couple of days. The police station can supply an 'accommodation registration printout' when you are about to apply for the residency permit.
Persons applying for residency are required to attend for a 'physical examination', i.e. a medical check at an authorized medical center. Again, your organization should assist you with this.
Education institutions will provide students with documentation showing that the institution is accredited, that the student has been properly enrolled and has paid the fees. Employers will provide a copy of the contract of employment (in Chinese and English), evidence of their right to employ foreigners and a Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit or a Letter of Invitation.
Once all this has been collected, your organization will arrange an 'interview' with the local PSB office (it might be as little as just seeing who you are!). You will need to take along at least the following:
• Accommodation registration printout from the police
• Physical examination results
• The fee