25 October 2017

CHINA:  Shanghai Foreign Expert Bureau expedited work permit process may benefit some foreign workers 

Applicants may now be able to start work sooner since The Shanghai Foreign Expert Bureau is accepting work permit applications from applicants classified as either Category A or B, and holding an M (business) or L (tourist) entry visa, rather than a Z (work) visa

Usually it takes six to eight weeks to obtain a Notification Letter of Work Permit and a Z (work) visa prior to travelling to China, however with this simplified process for and M or L visa will take about one week.  This may allow applicants to work much sooner. 

Thus foreign nationals who qualify in Category A or Category B under the new consolidated work permit system may be able to follow the process as outlined below:

  • Obtain an M or L visa from a Chinese consulate abroad; process time up to one week
  • Enter China
  • Undergo a full medical check in Shanghai which takes approximately 5 days
  • Simultaneously apply for Notification letter and Work Permit, approximately 25 days, but quicker for Category A applicants.


Foreign nationals working in China are categorized into one of three categories (A, B and C). These categories identify the holder as high-end personnel, professional personnel, or temporary and seasonal personnel in either the service or non-technical sectors.

To determine the applicable category, salary, educational background, Chinese language proficient, age and work experience are taken into consideration when making the evaluation.

There is no upper age limit for Category A applicants  and the following are also not required; a police clearance certificates, original university degree certificates, and work experience proof.  Resulting in significantly faster processing times.

Important items to note:

L or M entry visas risk expiring for Category B applicants while their work permit application is being processed.  Which may result in them not being able to extend their entry visa without leaving China.

Also L visas are usually issued for a duration of stay of only 30 days, while M visa for 30 or 60 days.  This is dependant on the consulate of application.  In country visa extension are not guaranteed. 

How does this affect the client?

When hiring foreign nationals to work in Shanghai, please consult your immigration specialist to determine whether this expedited process can be applied based on their circumstances. 




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