China’s New Work Visa Policy
Last update: June 30th, 2017. This article explains China’s New Work Visa Policy recently implemented in Mid-2017. In addition, you can use our Points System Calculator to acknowledge whether you are qualified to obtain a Chinese working visa or not, in accordance to the different requirements. This article also unveils the regulatory evolution that China’s Work Visa has experienced.
Working Visa (Z): Visa needed to enter China for working purposes with a validity of 30 days. This document has to be replaced by the Resident Permit (which will allow foreigners to reside in China) within 30 days from the entry date.
Foreigner’s Work Permit: document delivered in China to foreign workers after proceding accordingly with the local authorities.
Residence Permit: Document replacing the Working Visa on the passport in order to legally remain in the country and travel abroad without restriction during the employment duration.
Last Changes on China’s Working Visa Requirements
NEW November 1st, 2017
A few months after the implementation of China´s new visa points system on April 1st of 2017. It not only seems that the government has officially ended the testing period, but also that a few conclusions have been made. In fact, China´s authorities have made some modifications in the table points. These adjustments are mainly composed by the decrease of points obtained by the Chinese language proficiency and a new segmentation of China´s working areas.
NEW July 1st, 2017
Implemented by the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, the following changes will be implemented from July 1st 2017:
► The possibility for college graduates to obtain a working visa waiving the 2 years working experience has been extended to all applicant with a Master’s degree or higher obtained from a Chinese university (with an average academic score of 80/100 and above) and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park. Such a possibility was before restricted to applicants graduated from a university in Shanghai.
► This possibility to obtain a working visa waiving the 2 years working experience has also been extended to all applicant with a Bachelor’s degree obtained from a university in Shanghai and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park. Such a possibility was before restricted to applicants graduated with a Master’s degree or higher from a university in Shanghai.
April 1st, 2017
The two former types of Work permits do not exist anymore, they have been combined to become a sole and unique Foreigner’s Work Permit. Work permits are now divided between 3 categories (A, B or C).
November 15th, 2016
Beginning in April 2017, a request will take effect, asking visa appliers to provide two new forms of documentation:
► Crime Certification: issued in home country with official stamps, translated and notarized. This is an extension of the same requirement in order to apply for permanent residence. It is now required for visa’s as well.
► Education certification by providing an original copy of your highest academic diploma translated and notarized.
China’s New Working Permit’s Points System
The former system allowed foreigners to apply for two different types of work permits. One was the employment license for foreign employees issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. The other was the foreign expert work permit reserved for individuals classified as ‘talented’ in their field, and issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA).
The new regulations not only allow applicants to apply online (simplifying and shortening the process), but also combine both work permit types into a single variety. Since April 1st, 2017, this new points system is in effect throughout China.
Also, every foreigner’s work permit will be graded on a range of A, B, or C according to a points system implemented by the government. According to the Global Times, this points system will numerically grade different aspects such as educational background, Chinese language proficiency, salary in China, time length worked in China, location, etc. The grading system for foreign workers will follow the following structure:
Type A: Over 85 points.
► Has been recognized for achievement in academia, business, entertainment, or sports and/or holds a position of authority.
► Has been recognized as an entrepreneurial or innovative talent by his peers
► An under 35 graduate of a top-200 University, or awarded a Ph.D. from a respected and certified Chinese University
► Is a published author of three or more articles in a prestigious science or technology journal
Type B: Over 60 points.
► Holds a bachelor’s degree and has two years’ work experience in a certain field
► Works in an international or transnational organization listed by the government.
► ‘Excellent’ graduate with a master’s degree from either a Chinese university or a top 100 university
► A Foreign language teacher who teaches their native language and holds a bachelor’s degree in a country where the primary language is your native language. They also must possess at least two years of teaching experience (those with a bachelor’s degree in a teaching or language-related field, or a TEFL certificate are exempt from this).
► NEW A graduated with a Master’s degree or higher obtained from a Chinese university (with an average academic score of 80/100 and above) and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park.
► NEW A graduated with a Bachelor’s degree obtained from a university in Shanghai and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park.
Type C: Below 60 points.
Type A worker will have an easier way to get the work permit. Plus, as Type C worker are considered as restricted, 60 points need to be reached to be considered as a Type B worker which allows to apply for a work permit.
An Alternative Solution for Those Who Don’t Reach the Necessary Points
Since the new system was implemented many foreign workers wanting to come to China have encountered difficulties the immigration requirements. However, the truth is that it is possible to obtain a Chinese work visa approval via specialized employment services.
Particularly, employment services are offered by Professional Employment Organizations (PEO). Normally these organizations have less difficulties to have working visas issued than normal companies, due to their scope of activity being entirely dedicated to human resources management and professionals’ hiring. Employment services enable businesses to overcome the restrictions imposed on hiring a limited number of foreign employees.
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Visa Regulation Updates on the Existing Law
If anything is true about the Chinese visa laws, it’s that they change frequently. These changes can be hard to find online. Even changes made in early 2017 can be outdated. These frequent changes are partly due to a government led process of reforms that began in 2015 aiming to strengthen regulation and management of visa policies for foreigners. Many of these changes have been positive, creating a quicker, more efficient and standardized process But, they can delay your application process if you are misinformed or do not have the updated requirements.
This is a list of the recent changes that have taken place:
July 17th, 2016
This is the most recent update to the visa regulations.
As of mid-July 2016, the new requirements are:
1. Applicants must submit all original documents including: Working Reference Letter and University Diploma
2. Employers must be verified before they can apply for work permits for foreign employees (as stated above)
3. Employers and their company must have a registered business office or address
4. There will be an increased supervision towards Business/Tourist visa holders who are illegally working in Shanghai.
Previously applicants could bring their Scanned copies of the Working Reference Letter and University Diploma are no longer accepted. Now, the originals must be turned in at the time of application. Applicants should take note and bring these documents with them from their home country. There are many young expats in Shanghai who choose to work while on a business/tourist/student visa. These new changes are designed to root out those who choose to work in Shanghai without a proper visa.
May 1st, 2016
Specific to Shanghai only, The Shanghai Labor Bureau is now allowing recent college graduates to obtain a working visa waiving the 2 years working experience. This is narrowly defined and applies only if the applicant has a Master’s Degree or higher (obtained from a university in Shanghai) and is employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park.
April 14th, 2016
Companies must now apply for a user ID card and be verified before they can hire foreign employees. This takes around 5-15 working days.
February 1st, 2016.
The 144-hour (6 days) Visa-Free Transit policy is now valid in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The revised policy allows travelers from 51 countries who transit through the PRC destined for another location including Hong Kong and Macao to enter the PRC visa-free.
January 20th, 2016
It is now mandatory for foreigners with a new passport to transfer their old visa to their current passport within one month. The clock starts on the date the new passport was issued. If you don’t get it done in time, you may be subject to some discipline in the form of a monetary fine or an official warning. Either disciplinary action could affect their future visa-applications.
January 11th, 2016
If you’re looking to renew a work permit, it will now take 5 working days, rather than three. The impact on a foreigner is that a lead time of 6 days before the expiration date of your permit to ensure your permit remains in good standing
January 1st, 2016
This updated visa policy allows applicants to apply for their Z visa directly in Shanghai. Previously applicants had to travel to Hong Kong or their home countries to apply, and there was always the risk of being denied. This change helps expedite the process and lowers the time and cost involved in obtaining a Z visa.
Business Visa (M)
The M visa or Business Visa is for those who are invited to China for commercial, business, and trade activities such as meetings, trade shows, factory visits, scientific or medical conferences, as well as cultural or sporting events. It is provided to individuals who come to represent a company, and it doesn’t allow any direct profit making activities during the stay.
Types of Business Visa (M)
In China, there are different types of Business visa with different lengths and number of entries:
► Single entry
► Double entry
►Multiple entry for 6 months
► Multiple entry for 12 months
► Multiple entries up to 10 years (For Canadian and American citizens only)
The truth is however that whichever visa type is applied for, in the end it is the Chinese authorities who decide which type of visa will be provided, meaning that they could either deliver a visa with a longer validity than expected or the opposite.
► Invitation letter issued by a Chinese business partner or by the Chinese authorities
► Business license or certificate that approves the creation of your Chinese partner’s company
► Passport with at least 12 months validity and at least 2 blank pages
► Visa Application Form V.2013 completed
► Photo (33 x 48 mm)
NOTE: Foreign investors wishing to start a business activity in China are recommended to apply directly for a Working Visa (Z). Business Visas don’t enable foreign investors to start any business, and proof of a previous Work Visa application will be required. INS can provide Work Visas to foreign investors that are in the initial stages of setting up their business in China. Learn more here.
Other Types of Visas in China
Non-Commerce Visa (F)
Issued to individuals who will visit China for non-commerce purposes such cultural, research, lecture and scientific exchanges, study tours and other activities. It is generally granted with a single or double entry with a validity period between 30 to 90 days per visit.
Tourist Visa (L)
This visa is provided to those who will travel to China for tourist purposes. The main requirements to acquire the Tourist Visa are to provide a valid flight ticket and an accommodation booking or proof or reservation.
The duration of a Tourist Visa can vary from 30 to 60 days with single, double or multiple entry depending on the Chinese consulates. In some cases, US citizens can benefit from a multiple entry visa of up to 10 years.
Study Visa (X)
Issued to foreign students who have enrolled in a study program in a Chinese educational institution. There exist two types of X Visas: X1 and X2.
Study X1 Visa
Issued to foreign students who will stay in China for a period longer than 6 months. It is a multiple entry visa that can be valid for up to 5 years depending on the study program. It is generally utilized by universities and colleges.
Study X2 Visa
Issued to foreign students who will stay in China for a period shorter than 6 months. It is a single entry visa and it usually applies to exchange programs and Chinese language academies.
Private Visa (S)
Issued to direct family members who intend to accompany an individual working or studying in China. There are two types of Private Visa: S1 (long term) and S2 (short term). The main purpose of this visa is to allow legal residence in China. S Visa holders cannot work in the mainland.
“Direct family members” or “immediate family members” applies to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons/daughters, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and parents-in-law. Relationship certificates (marriage certificate, birth certificate) must be provided to the Chinese authorities.
There exist two types of S Visas: S1 and S2.
Family Purpose S1 Visa
Issued to family members intending to stay in China for a period longer than 180 days. After 30 days upon arrival to China, S1 Visa holders must register and apply for the Residence Permit at the Public Security Bureau and local police station.
Family Purpose S2 Visa
Issued to family members intending to stay in China for a period between 30 and 90 days per visit. It is also mandatory to provide a certificate of kinship.
Private Purpose Visa
Issued to individuals who wants to enter China for private reasons or purposes such as receiving a specific medical treatment in China.
Transit Visa (G)
Transit Visas are issued to those who are temporary passing through China to arrive in a third-country destination.
Since February 2016, travelers from 51 countries can stay 144 hours (6 days) in China without the need of a visa. This policy is valid in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
Family Visa (Q)
Issued to individuals who have a direct family relationship with Chinese citizens, and intend to go to China for a family reunion or other personal purposes. For example, Chinese descendants living abroad or foreigners married to a Chinese citizen.
There are two types of Family visa depending on the duration: Q1 (long term) and Q2 (short term)
Family Q1 Visa
This visa is designed for those planning to stay in China a period longer than 180 days and is only single entry. Individuals entering China with a Q1 Visa must register with the relevant Chinese authorities and police station.
It is important to mention that even if one applies for a Q1 Visa; the Chinese consulate may end up providing a Q2 Visa depending on their criteria.
Family Q2 Visa
This visa is generally issued with a validity period of up to 120 days per visit, and in most cases includes multiple entries. US passport holders may benefit from a validity of up to 10 years.
Journalist Visa (J)
Issued to foreign journalists and media staffs employed by foreign media and news companies.
There are two types of Journalist Visa depending on the duration: J1 (long term) and J2 (short term)
Journalist J1 Visa
Issued to foreign media workers who intend to stay in China for a period longer than 180 days.
Journalist J2 Visa
Issued to foreign media workers who intend to stay in China for a period shorter than 180 days.