What are the changes and how will they affect my clients and assignee?
- Every company in China who employ foreign employees are required to register the company with its full entity details online through the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) system, following their step by step guidelines. Registration instructions are available in Chinese language on the website. Inhouse Mobility can assist with this registration if required by the client.
- At present, there are still two systems available for company registration/ Work Permit Application. One is 126.96.36.199/fonreigner/index_index.action (System 1.0, the previous website link), another one is a new system fwp.safea.gov.cn (System 2.0).
- If employers have already completed the company registration via the System 1.0, they can continue to use this system to submit the on-line application. The Shanghai Foreign Experts Bureau is transferring previous data from system 1.0 to system 2.0 but it is not clear when the process will be completed. At this stage, the bureau officers suggest all employers to register and submit the applications through the System 1.0 as the new system is still noticeably unstable.
- In the near future, the whole China will use only one single permit application system fwp.safea.gov.cn (System 2.0) and all immigration information will be connected through this online system. The timeline for this is still to be published.
- Once registered, the employer has to apply for a Notification Letter of Foreign ’s Work Permit/ Foreigner’s Work Permit online. Application documents are uploaded to the system for review by the authorities before the actual application can be submitted at each Foreign Expert Branch Office.
- The Z visa invitation letter application step is now not required any more at any destination in China. Foreign employees can now apply for the Chinese Z-visa with only the valid Work Permit Notification Letter, valid passport and other relevant documents required by the Chinese Embassy/Consulate.
- For Shanghai, the Foreign Experts Bureau will require HR representatives from employing company or locally authorized immigration agents to submit all hard copies of the application documents to each branch Foreign Expert bureau after the online application is approved. Same as for all other destinations in China, Inhouse Mobility will work with these locally registered partners in Shanghai to handle the physical submission on behalf of the employing company. As a new step an additional representation letter with the details of the local partner may be required, but this is still to be confirmed.
- Shanghai labor bureau headquarter will continue to handle the work permit renewal, cancellation, annual inspection, amendments (e.g. address or passport change) for foreign employees under previous process until 30th June, 2017. Any new application should be submitted to the Foreign Expert Bureau under new immigration process.
- Foreigners who have already obtained a valid Residence Permit, however need to transfer to another company and/or different city within China should apply for the new Foreigner’s Work Permit within the validity of the Residence Permit.
- Legalization of non-criminal records and highest educational degree is required at the Chinese Diplomatic Mission (i.e. Embassy or Consulate) in the employees home country.
How long does the new application process take?
Step 1: Employing company on-line registration: 5-7 working days
Step 2: Notification Letter of Foreign ’s Work Permit Application (previously called “Alien Employment License”): 20 working days. This is what the new letter looks like:
Step 3: Z visa application at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate abroad: 4-5 working days (same as before)
Step 4: Foreigner’s Work Permit Application upon arrival with Z visa: 10 working days (Previously this document was known as Alien Employment Permit - and this is what the new work permit looks like)
Step 5: Medical Verification: 2 - 4 working days
Step 6: Residence Permit Application: 7 working days (same as before)
In total, the process is estimated to take between 10 to 12 weeks, which is roughly 15 working days longer (excluding the required documents preparation by the applicant) than the previous process. Please note – the application process for Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong citizens remains the same as before and they are not affected by these changes at present.
Conclusion & Recommendations
- Since all Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit applications will require that companies first complete the on-line registration, we advise that this be done in advance to avoid any potential delays when a notification letter is due for submission.
- Legalization: The updated process requires consular legalization of highest education degree and non-criminal record at the Chinese Embassy / Consulate in the employees home country. Taking this into consideration, foreign employees will need to start preparing for the application process earlier. So far, in tier 1 cities like Shanghai, a non-criminal record certificate was not required in the past. Going forward this will now be required.
- As under the new process, the documents preparation will take longer than before, each employing company should prepare the assignee’s relocation at least 2 months prior to the assignee’s assignment start date to avoid any potential delays.
- Please make sure assignees provide all personal information and documents accurately. As mentioned, in the near future, the whole of China will only be working on one integrated system and all information will be connected. Inaccurate information may cause consequences with future applications.
- As the new regulation/application process has just been implemented in Shanghai and other cities, the online system is still noticeably unstable and subject to fall-outs. We also do expect that in the short-term the initial applications will be subject to a lot of scrutiny, and we advise all partners to inform their HR departments and assignees of potential delays accordingly.
- We are gathering more details regarding the new policy as the implementation of the new policy may be different across other cities in China and these are still on experimental stage. As with any new system implementation in China the new process and regulations are subject to continuous fine-tuning and change. Even since the new regulations have been issued on 1st April we have seen various modifications and updates and we foresee this continuing for the next 1-2 months.
Contact Inhouse Mobility to support you in obtaining your China Work Permit in time.