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Persons from Abroad Working in China

China practises a work permit system for employment of persons from abroad (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) as of 1 April 2017. The former Foreign Expert Work Permit and Alien Employment License are integrated into one document called the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit. The original Foreign Expert Certificate and Alien Employment Permit are integrated into one permit called the Foreigner’s Work Permit. Holders of the former Foreign Expert Certificate and the Alien Employment Permit that are still valid may apply for the new permit on a voluntary basis.

Persons from abroad working in China are divided into high-level foreign talents (Category A), foreign professionals (Category B) and ordinary foreign workers (Category C) and are managed according to their respective categories. There is no quantitative limit on high-level foreign talents, but employment of foreign professionals is restricted by market demand. Ordinary foreign workers are subject to quota restrictions. A “green channel” is available to high-level foreign talents. There is no age limit or requirement on working experience. There is also no need to verify paper documents and a commitment system is practised for proof of no criminal record prior to entry into China. High-level talents applying for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit can enjoy express service that reduces the examination and approval period by half. High-level foreign talents short-listed for various programmes may opt for the commitment system for proof of work experience, professional expertise and academic qualifications.

The work permit system still applies to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan residents. Entities or individuals wishing to employ Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan residents to work on the mainland must apply for work permit and go through the relevant procedures.

(a)  Departments Responsible for Administration of Employment of Persons from Abroad in China

The administrative departments for foreign workers at the provincial level and the authorised administrative departments for foreign workers of local people’s governments, as well as their commissioned agencies, are responsible for issuing work permits for foreigners coming to work in China.

The labour and social security administrative departments at provincial, autonomous region and municipal levels and their authorised labour and social security administrative departments at prefecture and city levels are responsible for the administration of employment of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan residents on the mainland.

(b)  Eligibility Criteria for Persons from Abroad Taking up Employment in China

CategoryHong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ResidentsPersons with Foreign Nationality
Eligibility Criteria1. Aged between 18 and 60 (investors playing a direct part in the operation and professionals badly needed on the mainland may be over 60 years of age);

2. In good health;

3. Hold valid travel documents (including Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents and Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents issued by the competent mainland organs);

4. Having relevant proof of qualification if the person is to engage in the prescribed occupations (technical posts) as required by the law; and

5. Other requirements specified by laws and regulations.

1. At least 18 years of age and in good health;

2. Possess the professional skills and working experience required for the work of intended employment;

3. No criminal record;

4. Having a confirmed employer; and

5. Having a valid passport or other international travel document in lieu of the passport.


(c) Application Procedures for Persons from Abroad Taking up Employment in China

In accordance with the Provisions on Administration of Employment of Foreigners in China and Circular on the Implementation of the Work Permit System for Foreigners Taking Up Employment in China, foreigners must apply for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit and obtain the Foreigner’s Work Permit before taking up employment in China. They also have to apply for residence permit from the public security organ within 30 days of their entry into China.

In accordance with the Provisions on Administration of Employment of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents on the Mainland, persons from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau must go through the formalities of applying for employment certificate and other documents. The documents required and the time needed to complete the formalities vary from place to place. The following are the requirements in Shenzhen:

Procedures for processing the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit and the documents required:

Category
Persons with Foreign Nationality
DescriptionApplication for Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit
Procedures1. Online application. An employer shall log on to the “Service System for Foreigners Working in China” (http://fwp.safea.gov.cn/) and apply online together with the required electronic documents. If the employment is entrusted to a specialised service agency, the agency should register online its name, legal proof of registration (business licence, organisation code certificate, social insurance certificate, certificate of registration of resident representative office of foreign enterprise, or certificate of registration of representative office of overseas non-governmental organisation, or the unified social credit code certificate if it already has one), and also the name, identification document and contact number of the staff handling the case. It should also submit on site the power of attorney from the employer as well as the identification document of the handling staff.

2. Online preliminary examination. The office accepting the application shall make a preliminary examination of the documents submitted online within five working days after receiving the documents (day of submission not included). If the documents are incomplete or do not satisfy the requirements, the office will inform the applicant online in one go the supplementations or corrections needed. If the documents are complete and satisfy the requirements, the office will inform the applicant online or make an appointment for the applicant to submit the documents on site.

3. Acceptance of application. The acceptance office will decide upon examination of the application whether or not to accept the application. If the application particulars fall within its administrative jurisdiction and all the application documents are complete and satisfy the relevant requirements, the application will be accepted at once. The office shall issue the Acceptance of Application for Foreigner’s Work Permit bearing the special stamp of the office and the date. If the documents are incomplete or do not satisfy the relevant requirements, the applicant will be informed in one go the supplementations or corrections necessary and a one-off notice will be issued. The application will be accepted after the supplementary materials are submitted. If the matter falls out of the scope of administrative jurisdiction of the office, it must explain the reasons and basis of refusal and issue a Notice of Refusal bearing the administrative licence stamp, to be delivered to the applicant or employer within five days after the paper documents are received.

4. Examination. The Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit will be generated online after the application passes examination.
Documents Required1. Application Form for Foreigner’s Work Permit;

2. Proof of work experience;

3. Certificate of highest degree (academic) and relevant approval documents and proof of professional qualifications;

4. Proof of no criminal record (commitment system for high-level foreign talents (Category A));

5. Certificate of medical examination;

6. Employment contract or proof of service (including letter of assignment from multinational companies);

7. Passport or international travel document of the applicant (passport must have a validity of at least six months);

8. Photograph of the applicant taken within the last six months;

9. Relevant documents of accompanying dependents; and

10. Other documents required.


Procedures for processing the Foreigner’s Work Permit and Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents and the documents required:

CategoryHong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ResidentsPersons with Foreign Nationality
DescriptionFirst-time application for Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau ResidentsApplication for Foreigner’s Work Permit
Procedures1. The employer shall submit the application to the human resources and social security department. After approval has been granted, it shall proceed to the city-level human resources and social security department where it is located to obtain the Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents with the Receipt for Accepted Application; and

2. With the Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents, the employer shall proceed to the human resources and social security department that issues this Certificate to complete the record filing procedures for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau residents.
1. The applicant shall submit application for Foreigner’s Work Permit within 15 days after entering the territory. After verifying the documents submitted, the permit approval institution shall conduct examination and make decision within 10 working days (not counting the day of submission of the documents);

2. The permit approval institution shall make the decision to grant administrative licence if the application satisfies the requirements and standards. Applicants for long-term employment in China shall receive the Foreigner’s Work Permit within 10 days of the decision to grant administrative licence.
Documents Required1. Application and Registration Form for Employment of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents on the Mainland;

2. Business Licence or registration details of the employer;

3. Photocopy of the valid personal travel document of the person employed or dispatched (specifically referring to the Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents and Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents issued by the public security organ or the Travel Permit of the People's Republic of China issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to persons of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan origin abroad of the person appointed or dispatched;

4. Bill of health of the person employed or dispatched (specifically referring to the health certificate issued by the mainland health inspection and quarantine department or the health certificate issued by approved medical institutions in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau);

5. Proof of employment (photocopy of labour contract if labour contract was signed, photocopy of letter of dispatch if dispatched by the company, and photocopy of staff pass for resident representative office of the company of foreign country or region);

6. Photocopy of the relevant certificates of professional qualifications for those employed for positions specified by the state (technical jobs); 7. Two recent colour passport photos, front view with no hat;

8. Registration Form for Temporary Residence of Visitors;

9. Other documents required by laws and regulations.
1. Visa (Z or R) or valid residence permit held by the applicant;

2. Employment contract. The contract shall include the place of work, job duties, remuneration, duration of work in China, job title and the page showing the seal (signature);

3. Proof of medical check-up. The Certificate of Verification of Medical Records of Overseas Personnel and Certificate of Medical Examination issued by China’s inspection and quarantine authorities must be signed within the past six months.
Points to Note1. Necessary forms may be collected from the human resources and social security departments at various levels or downloaded from the official website of these departments;

2. The originals of the above-mentioned documents must be presented for verification; proofs, forms and photocopies must bear the official seal of the employer;

3. Time limit: Four working days from the date of acceptance of application; and

4. The Employment Certificate is only valid in the area specified by the issuing authority.
1. The applicant shall fill in the Application Form for Foreigner’s Work Permit additional information needed for the application of the work permit.

2. If the original application documents were not presented for verification at the time of application submission, they should be presented for verification when collecting the Foreigner’s Work Permit. There is no need to submit paper documents of proof if the commitment system is used.


Foreigner’s Work Permit Category A is valid for 2-5 years and Category B is generally valid for one year and its validity may not exceed the validity of the Business Licence or Certificate of Registration (of the employer), the government approval documents concerned, the labour contract or letter of dispatch, or the passport or other international travel documents in lieu of passport (of the applicant). Employers may not conclude labour contracts with a term of more than five years with foreign employees and the Employment Certificate will expire at the end of the contract. If the Foreigner’s Work Permit is due for extension, application must be submitted to the local human resources and social security department (Shenzhen Bureau of Foreign Expert Affairs) before its expiry.

Procedures for processing permit extension and the documents required:

CategoryHong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ResidentsPersons with Foreign Nationality
DescriptionExtension of Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau ResidentsExtension of Foreigner’s Work Permit
Documents Required1. The original Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents.

2. Completed Application Form for Extension of Employment Certificate bearing the signature of the applicant (one form for each applicant);

3. Business Licence of the employer (duplicate copy) or one photocopy each of the Registration Certificate and Organisation Code Certificate of the resident representative office of the company of foreign country or region;

4. Photocopy of the valid travel document (Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents or Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents) of the person employed;

5. Proof of employment (photocopy of the labour contract for those who have signed labour contracts, photocopy of the Letter of Assignment if assigned by the company, and photocopy of the staff pass for resident representative office of the company of foreign country or region.
1. The original Foreigner’s Work Permit, including the Foreign Expert Certificate and Alien Employment Permit that are still valid;

2. Completed Application Form for Extension of Foreigner’s Work Permit;

3. employment contract or certificate of service;

4. Visa or valid residence permit; and

5. Others.
Points to Note1. Application for extension must be submitted three months before the original certificate expires;

2. Two recent colour passport photos, front view with no hat, must be submitted if the extension pages of the Employment Certificate are used up. Those who apply for extension after the deadline must undergo medical check-up once more;

3. Those approved to extend their employment in China shall complete formalities for extension of residence permit at the local public security organ within 10 days;

4. Time limit: Four working days from the date of acceptance of application; and

5. The originals of the above-mentioned documents must be presented for verification; proofs, forms and photocopies must bear the official seal of the employer.
The employer must submit application to the permit approval institution 30 days before the expiry of the Foreigner’s Work Permit if it continues to employ the applicant for the same post (profession).


An employee whose Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents is lost or damaged must apply for replacement promptly at the service counter of the city or district (county-level city) labour and employment service administrative bureau.

Procedures for obtaining replacement Employment Certificate and the documents required:

Category
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ResidentsPersons with Foreign Nationality
DescriptionReplacement Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau ResidentsReplacement Foreigner’s
Work Permit
Documents Required1. Completed Application Form for Replacement Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents (must state the reason);

2. One recent colour passport photo.
1. Completed Application Form for Replacement Foreigner’s Work Permit; and

2. Applicant’s reason for loss or damage of the work permit. Materials in languages other than Chinese must bear the official seal of the employer.


An employee who leaves the area specified by the issuing organ or changes his employer and engages in a different profession in the same area is required to go through the formalities of applying for Work Permit or Employment Certificate once again.

An employee intending to change his employer and other information within the area specified by the issuing organ but still engages in the same profession is required to obtain the approval of the original issuing organ and apply for change of particulars at the service counter of the labour and employment service administrative bureau at the city level or district (county-level city) where he is based.

Procedures for filing change of particulars and the documents required:

DescriptionChange of Particulars in Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau ResidentsChange of Particulars in Foreigner’s Work Permit
Documents Required1. The original Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau residents;

2. Completed Application Form for Change of Particulars in Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents (original bearing the seal of the employer); and

3. Proofs of change of particulars (those applying to change personal particulars shall submit a photocopy of the personal information page of the new travel document; those applying to change the name of his company shall submit the Business Licence and proof from the industry and commerce administrative department approving the change; those applying to change the place of work shall submit photocopies of proof of severance of employment relationship with the original employer and the Employment Intention Letter of the new employer; those applying to change their residence address shall submit the new Registration Form for Temporary Residence of Visitors.)
1. Completed Application Form for Change of Particulars in the Foreigner’s Work Permit;

2. The number, information page and visa page of the applicant’s new passport (international travel document) must be submitted for change of passport number;

3. Those taking up a new position in the same entity, including promotion from a professional post to an administrative post, shall submit a letter of application for change of particulars and the relevant proofs, unless otherwise stipulated by the laws and regulations of the state.

4. Those changing to a new post (profession) shall cancel their existing Work Permit and apply for a new Foreigner’s Work Permit.
Points to Note1. Time limit: Four working days from the date of acceptance of application;

2. After the change of working area and employer has been approved, the applicant should proceed to the local public security bureau to complete change of particulars in his Residence Permit within 10 days; and

3. One recent colour passport photo must be submitted if the change of particulars page of the Employment Certificate is used up.
Application for changes in the applicant’s personal Information (name, passport number, job duties, job category) shall be submitted to the permit approval institution within 10 working days after such changes take place.


An employee who changes his employer and the original and new employers belong to the same group or have subordinate relations shall complete transfer formalities for his Employment Certificate.

Procedures for completing transfer of Employment Certificate and the documents required:

Category
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Residents
DescriptionTransfer of Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents
Documents RequiredTransfer out:

1. Original copy of the Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents;

2. Completed Application Form for Cancellation/Transfer of Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents (must indicate place of transfer and name of new employer in the “Reasons for Cancellation/Transfer” section);

3. Proof of original employer’s severance of employment relationship; and

4. roof of new employer's employment intention.

Transfer in:

1. Proof of transfer issued by the original issuing organ for Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents; and

2. Documents required to apply for new Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents.
Points to Note1. Time limit: Transfer-out application is processed as soon as it is accepted, while transfer-in application is processed within five working days from the date it is accepted;

2. The originals of the above-mentioned documents must be presented for verification; proofs, forms and photocopies must bear the official seal of the employer.


After the termination of labour contract between an employee and his employer, the employer shall promptly report to the labour and public security departments to complete the cancellation formalities, return the Foreigner’s Work Permit, Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents and Residence Permit of that employee, and proceed to the public security department to go through exit formalities.

Procedures for cancellation and the documents required:

Category
Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan ResidentsPersons with Foreign Nationality
DescriptionCancellation of Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau ResidentsCancellation of Foreigner’s Work Permit
Documents Required1. Original of the Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents;

2. Completed Application Form for Cancellation/Transfer of Employment Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Residents; and

3. Proof of termination of employment relationship with the original employer.
1. Completed Application Form for Cancellation of Foreigner’s Work Permit; and

2. Proof of termination of employment relationship and labour contract or other reasons for cancellation.
Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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