China took steps to compete an overhaul and tightening of the country’s work authorization rules with the enforcement of the Entry-Exit Administration Law on July 1, 2013 and the announcement of implementing rules on July 22, 2013.
The key points of the Entry-Exit Administration Law relating to the employment of foreign nationals are:
The law defines “unlawful employment” as:
working without a valid work permit and residence permit;
working outside the location or scope of responsibilities stated in a work permit (i.e., working at different employer or in another city than stated in a work permit); or
working outside the scope of a student permit.
Maximum fines on employers that illegally employ foreign nationals are increased from RMB 50,000 to RMB 100,000.
Maximum fines on illegally employed foreign nationals are increased from RMB 1,000 to RMB 20,000. In “serious circumstances”, illegally employed foreign nationals may be detained for 5-15 days, or even deported and barred from entering China for up to 10 years.
Foreign nationals entering China will be required to register their accommodations within 24 hours nationwide.
The implementing regulations, entitled the Foreigner Entry-Exit Administration Regulations, will take effect on September 1, 2013 and replace rules that were issued in 1986.
Among the highlights of the implementing regulations:
A new “M” visa will be available for commercial and trade activities (i.e., a business visa). The “F” visa, which currently covers such activities, will be limited to non-commercial activities.
“L” visa is limited to tourism.
“Q” visa is for persons who apply to enter for family reunification or short term visits of Chinese nationals or foreigners with permanent residency.
“S” visa is for those who apply for visit a foreigner with a residence permit.
“Z” visa for employment remains unchanged. Draft regulations circulated in May 2013 divided the “Z” visa into two types depending on the length of stay in China.
“R” is for “senior-level and professionals in short supply”. A list of eligible positions that are considered to be in short supply will be issued.
Foreign nationals holding “X” visas (student visas) are permitted to take part-time jobs and internships with the approval of their schools and registration with the Public Security Bureau (PSB).
Employers are required to file reports with the PSB when foreign nationals are not longer employed or serving internships.
Foreign nationals will be fingerprinted by the PSB when they apply for residence permits.
Although the regulations do not address transitional measures, visas issued before September 1, 2013 are expected to remain valid after September 1, 2013 until their expiration.
In other recent work authorization developments:
Beijing requires legalized non-criminal record certificates
Starting on July 1, 2013, the Beijing Labor Bureau requires employers to submit non-criminal record certificates on behalf of their foreign national employees when the employers file applications for foreign employment licenses and foreign expert licenses (which is the first step in the work authorization process). Non-criminal record certificates will be also required for foreign nationals possessing work permits or foreign expert certificates issued outside of Beijing who transfer to Beijing for employment.
A non-criminal record certificate must be legalized by a PRC consulate or embassy in the country of issuance.
The Beijing Labor Bureau has indicated that Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan residents applying for work authorization are exempt from the new requirement.
Guangzhou introduces 72-hour transit visa
Guangzhou will join Beijing and Shanghai with a 72-hour transit visa policy starting from August 1, 2013.
Chengdu is also approved to introduce the 72-hour transit visa transit policy; the implementation date will be announced separately.
The policy in the four cities applies to visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, South Korea, and 38 other countries.
Among transit visa requirements is a confirmed airplane ticket to a third country, Hong Kong, or Macao with a scheduled departure within 72 hours upon entry into one of the cities. A foreigner national holding a transit visa may not leave the city of entry during the permitted 72-hour stay.
Longer processing times for residence permit applications
Public Security Bureaus of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and most other major cities announced a uniform policy of 15 working days to process initial applications and renewals for residence permits. The uniform processing time for residence permit deregistration is seven working days. Passports will be kept at the local PSBs during the entire processing time.
In addition, the Beijing PSB practice now requires that an employer’s actual working address must match the registered address on the business license when foreign nationals apply for new residence permits and renewals as well as for extensions of business visas. If the PSB finds that the addresses are not consistent, the foreign nationals may be required to leave China.
Foreign Expert Permit required for “Shanghai residence card”
Effective July 1, 2013, a foreign expert permit is required for all foreign nationals who apply for new residence cards or renewals in Shanghai. (Residence cards are different from residence permits and entitle holders to additional benefits, such as enrollment of children in local public schools.)
Before July 1, 2013, a work permit was sufficient for a foreign national to apply for a Shanghai residence card. Residents of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan may continue to apply for residence cards based on only work permits.