25 April 2017

CHINA: New Work Permit Policy Implemented  

Following on from a test phase in Shanghai, effective 1st April 2017 a New Work Permit Policy has been implemented in the rest of mainland China by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (currently not applicable for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau). Old application permits and procedures have been combined into just one: the ‘Foreigner’s Work Permit’ (FWP). A pre-requisite to this will be that companies need to apply the ‘Foreigner’s Work License’ (FWL).

This is intended to streamline current application and administration processes (by integrating all into one system) and to attract more high-level foreign talent to China. However, in total the process is estimated to take approximately 10-12 weeks which is slightly longer than previously.

Important changes to note for all of China:

•  Foreign workers will be split into 3 categories – A, B and C. This will be based on a new point based evaluation system with type A being the highest and most desirable foreign worker category to attract

•  The Z-visa invitation letter application step is now eliminated from the process

•  Every company in China who employ’s foreign workers are required to register the company online with its full entity details

•  A new requirement has been introduced to submit a pre-application online for the FWP (called Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit)

•  Currently there are 2 systems available for the registration and permit application – 1.0 and 2.0. The goal is to shortly phase out system 1.0 but it is currently advised to remain using it until the teething problems with 2.0 are resolved and the transfer of data is complete

•  Part of the new process will require legalisation of the applicants non-criminal record and highest education degree at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate overseas

•  As there will be only one fully integrated system, applicants’ and employers should be extra careful to ensure that details are input correctly

•  For any transfer of a foreign worker to a different company or to a different city in China, a completely new application process will have to be started for a FWP within the validity of the current residence permit.

There are also some Shanghai specific additional requirements:

•  Once the pre-application is submitted online and then approved all hard copies of the documents will have to be submitted to a branch of the Foreign Expert Bureau

•  Until 30 June 2017 the Shanghai Labour Bureau will continue to handle work permit renewal, cancellation and amendments – any new application should be submitted as per the new system

How does this affect the client?

Due to the change in process for obtaining a New Work Permit (FWP) there will be additional administrative requirements both for the Client and also for the applicant and these should be taken into account when considering lead times.

Under the new process, documentation preparation will take longer so it is advised to start much earlier with the preparation for the work permit, this will also affect the applicant themselves who will have to arrange additional legalisation of their non-criminal record and highest educational degree.

To help avoid further delays it is also advised for all Clients to complete as soon as possible the online registration well in advance of submitting their first notification letter for the pre-application.

Finally, since this new policy roll out involves a new online system, Clients should also be aware that this can mean fine tuning  and possible technical issues that could cause delays. They should also expect modifications over the course of the next 6-12 months, so keeping alert on the changes will be paramount.

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