How to get a new China Work Permit (New policy issued in 2017)


Firstly, I would say don’t be curious about my story ’cause today I’m standing right here, surprised everyone! and yeah I’m back to China again !

Today, I’m going to share how to obtain China’s new unified foreign work permit to everyone who wishes to work in China. Once again, this is the only way to work legally in Mainland China. As I said 2 years ago, no lie applying Chinese work visa is the messiest mess in my life and effected us very very emotionally. Some people said a new policy is less time-consuming application process and paperless, at this point I totally disagree.

Two-in-one reform
In 2017 China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) launched a new unified work permit system nationwide. China’s previous foreign work permit was divided into two parts (1) The Alien Employment Permit (Z-Visa), (2) The Foreign Expert Permit (R-Visa), now have been integrated into the Permit System for Foreigners in China.

The new system uses a points-based, three-tiered classification system to evaluate which candidates qualify for work permit. The three-tiered system classifies candidates as A, B, C level.

Compared with the old system, under the old system, there were two government entitles, The Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (HRSS) and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) were in charged the foreign work visa application process. However, starting from April 2017, the SAFEA became full responsible for processing all foreign work visa applications. Both of Z-Visa and R-Visa applicants need to submit their applications to the SAFEA without any confusion over where to apply anymore.

In addition, The Employment License and Foreign Expert License have been integrated into a single Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit. The Alien Employment Permit (a red booklet) and the Foreign Expert Certificate also unified into the Foreigner’s Work Permit ID Card. Each one will have a ID number which doesn’t change regardless of permit renewal or change of employer.

Tiered Classification
As I mentioned above, a new work permit system is using a point based three-tiered classification system as a primary method to evaluate which candidates qualify for the work permit.

The three-tiered system divided candidates into three categories as A (above 85 points for high level talent such as granted to international award or Nobel prize recipients, worked in Fortune Global 500 company as Senior Manager or technician, intellectual property holders and Post-Doctoral Degree holder under the age of 40-year old.), B level (85-60 points for professional personnel), C level (less than 60 points for non-technical or service workers hired on a temporary or seasonal basis). The classification system takes into account candidate’s work experience, education background, salary level, age, time spent working in China including Chinese language proficiency level, etc.

If a candidate meets any of those special conditions, the SAFEA will flag a corresponding level to a candidate without calculating the total score.
For more information on the system criteria for assigning point values, you can visit China Work Permit Calculator for calculating your score.

Application Procedure
Here is 5-steps to end the goal obtaining a new work permit and get a residence permit stuck in your passport good for one year.

STEP I : Online Application (This step should be done by your company but you need to provide some documents)
The required documents for submission at the first step are as follows:

Candidate provided (All documents should be translated in Chinese)
1.Application form for Foreigner’s Work Permit;
2.Reference Letter represent your two years of working experience in a relevant field;
3.Original and photocopy of Highest Degree Certificate (At least Bachelor’s Degree. The photocopy one should be authenticated by Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulate General or Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in your home country);
4.Original of Criminal Record Certificate (Original one should be authenticated by Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulate General or Chinese Visa Application Service Centre);
5.Original of Physical Examination;

Company provided
1.Application Form;
2.Business License or any enterprise certificates;
3.Organisation Code certificate;
4.Power of Attorney;
5.Employment Contract

** Under the new system, personal CVs and application letters are no longer required.**

HR or Consultancy Firm (aka agency) will submit an application along with the relevant documents online on the Management Service System for Foreign Workers in China. This step may take 5 business days to review your application. If there’s nothing wrong you will move to the next phrase.

STEP II : Offline Application (This step should be done by your company. If you are selected as Class A candidate, you are able to go through the step III )
After your application has been qualified, HR or consultancy firm has to go to The SAFEA for submitting the paper application. This step also takes 10 business days.

STEP III : Applying for Z-Visa (This step should be done by you)
At this step, your application should be completely verified by the SAFEA. HR or consultancy firm will send you a Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit via E-mail. Print and bring it to Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in your country to apply Z-Visa (No need to go back home if you are currently living in China). Well, apply for Z-visa takes 4 business days to process the visa, of course you can pay double price to get it on the following day or pay triple price to get it on the same day.

After picked up Z-Visa, it’s time to pack stuffs and go to China! don’t forget that Z-Visa is valid for 30 days…so you need to end your goal before your Z-visa expired…

21 中华人民共和国外国人工作许可通知(外)-模板 (1)

STEP IV : Temporary Residence (This step should be done by you)
You need to go to the nearest police station to where you live to register after entered to China within 24 hours. The form is a piece half A4 paper, do not lost it !

STEP V : Foreign’s Work Permit ID Card and Residence Permit (This step should be done by you and your company)
You need to give your passport and temporary residence form to HR who responsible to take care of this process. At this step you have to go to The Exit-Entry Administration of the Public Security Bureau with HR or consultancy firm to apply The Foreign’s Work Permit and Residence Permit on the same day. This step takes more than 10 business days to process. It was a tough time for preparing a tons of document, emotionally waiting for the visa. At this point you granted the work permit card, residence permit…. and end the goal. Enjoy legally working in China !

Actually the maximum validity of a Foreign’s Work Permit is five years, yet in practice Five-year permits are rarely granted. First-time applicants are more likely to receive a one-year permit.

Everything in this post I wrote it based on my personal experience. Hope this helps for everyone who just starting out on their work visa journey in China.



** Today is my youngest sister’s birthday,  Happy Birthday!!! **

Phoebe Hung


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