China’s New Work Visa Policy

Last update: January 2018. This article explains China’s New Work Visa Policy recently implemented in Mid-2017.

Quick Glossary

  • 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, Chinese authorities have made some modifications in the table points. These adjustments are mainly reflected by the decrease of points that can be obtained by the Chinese language proficiency and a new segmentation of China´s working industries.

NEW July 1st, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau,  has implemented the following changes since July 1st2017:

  • 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 and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park.
  • 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.

NEW 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 PermitWork permits are now divided between 3 categories (A, B or C).

November 15th, 2016

Applicants are now required to provide two new documents:

  • University Diploma 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:

  1. the employment license for foreign employees issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
  2. 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, but also combine both work permit types into a single one.

Since April 1st, 2017, every work permit will be classified into A, B, or C according to a points system implemented by the government. This points system numerically grades different aspects such as educational background, Chinese language proficiency, salary, working location, etc. The grading system for foreign workers will follow the following structure:

Work Visa Categories Segmentation

Type A: Over 85 points, or High-Talent/Experts

  • recognized for achievements in academia, business, entertainment, or sports and/or holds a position of authority.
  • recognized as an entrepreneurial or innovative talent by his peers.
  • under 35 graduate of a top-200 University, or awarded a Ph.D. from a respected and certified Chinese University.
  • published three or more articles in a prestigious science or technology journal.

Type B: Over 60 points, or Professional Talent

  • Bachelor’s degree & two years of work experience.
  • “Excellent” graduate with a master’s degree from either a Chinese university or from one of the top 100 universities in the world .
  • A Foreign language teacher who teaches their native language and holds a bachelor’s degree in a country where the primary language is the native language. They also must have 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).
  • graduated with a Master’s degree or higher obtained from a Chinese university and employed by a company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone or Zhang Jiang High Technology Park.
  • 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: Unqualified Workers

Type C worker are considered as rejected by the points system.

An alternative solution for those who don’t reach the necessary points

Since the new system was implemented many foreign workers have encountered difficulties the immigration requirements. Nevertheless, it is possible to obtain a Chinese work visa approval with the help of Professional Employment Organizations (PEO). Usually, 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 hiring professionals. PEOs enable businesses to overcome the restrictions imposed on hiring a limited number of foreign employees.

Become a dispatched employee of INS. We are a HR consulting leader in China that currently hosts hundreds of foreign workers settled in China through our employment solution.

Click here to contact us.

Visa regulation updates on the existing law

Chinese visa regulations change frequently. 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. New changes are designed to root out those who choose to work in Shanghai without a proper visa.

Subsequently, a list of the recent changes that have taken place:

July 17th, 2016

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.
  3. Employers and their company must have a registered business office or address.
  4. There will be an increased surveillance/verification towards Business/Tourist visa holders who are illegally working in Shanghai.

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 number 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 and the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The revised policy allows travelers from 51 countries who transit through the PRC destined for another location including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan 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 10 days. The clock starts on the date the new passport was issued.

January 11th, 2016

The renewal time of a work permit has been extended from 3 to 5 working days.

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

Business Visas are generally granted for 30, 60 or 90 days. Sometimes the duration can go oup to 1 year and up to 10 years for US or Canadian cizitens.

Required Documents

  • Passport with at least 12 months validity and at least 2 blank pages
  • Visa Application Form V.2013
  • Photo (33 x 48 mm)
  • Invitation letter issued by the Chinese business partner or by the Chinese authorities
  • Business license or certificate of the Chinese partner’s company
  • Valid flight tickets
  • Proof of
  • Proof of financial resources

NOTE: Foreign investors wishing to start a business activity in China are recommended to apply directly for a Working Visa (Z). 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 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.

The prof of duration of a Tourist Visa can vary from 30 to 60 days with single, double or multiple entry depending on the Chinese consulates. U.S. and Canadian citizens may benefit from a multiple entry tourist visa of up to 10 years.

Student Visa (X)

Issued to foreign students enrolled in a study program in a Chinese educational institution. There are two types of Student Visas: X1 and X2.

  • X1 Visa: Issued to foreign students who will stay in China for a period longer than 6 months. It has to be replaced by a Residence Permit within 30 days after arrival in China.
  • 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

Familiy Visit Visa (S)

Issued to direct “family members” who intend to accompany an their relative working or studying in China. There are two types of Family Visit Visa: S1 (long term) and S2 (short term). The purpose of this visa is to allow legal residence in China. S Visa holders cannot work in the China. “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.

  • 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.
  • 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 Reunion Visa (Q)

Issued to individuals who are relatives of Chinese citizens. There are two types of Family Reunion visa depending on the duration: Q1 (long term) and Q2 (short term).

  • Q1 Visa: Issued for those planning to stay in China a period longer than 90 days and is only single entry
  • Q2 Visa: Issued with a validity period from 30 to 180 days per visit, and in most cases includes multiple entries. US citizens may benefit from a multiple entry Family Reunion Visa validity 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).

  • J1 Visa: Issued to foreign media workers who intend to stay in China for a period longer than 180 days.
  • J2 Visa: Issued to foreign media workers who intend to stay in China for a period shorter than 180 days.

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