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China: New work permit application process

China’s new work permit application process

From 1st December 2016, Shanghai and Beijing will be introducing the work permit application for foreign nationals, which will be piloted before a national rollout. This new application is based on a points system where foreign nationals will be placed into an A, B and C category based on numerous factors. This new system would mean an Alien Employment Permit and a Foreign Experts Certificate will no longer be required, instead replaced by one single Work Permit.
The points system will take into account factors such as;

  • Education/ background
  • Length of service with home company
  • Salary/remuneration/ package
  • Chinese language skill
  • Age and work experience

The scores will be calculated by the Labour Bureau and then to be put into the below categories.

Points Groups
Below 60                 Group C       Ordinary or government approved less skilled, temporary seasonal personnel
Between 60- 85     Group B       Professional personnel
Over 85                    Group A       High end personnel

It is anticipated that rejection rate will be high for those applicants who fall into Group C

The new  process is predicted to take 15 days longer than the former process (excluding preparation for required documents by applicant) resulting in taking between 10-12 weeks in total.

The new system is estimated to go live nationally on 1st April 2017, In light of this time frame the Shanghai Labour Bureau has announced they will accept the following temporary application process for applicants who cannot provide all documentation required for the new process. The temporary process is as follows:

An individual can apply for a business visa (M category) rather than the Z visa, which will result in a reduction in processing time. Once the Alien Employment Licence is issued an individual is able to arrive in Shanghai and undergo medical testing, filing the work permit and residence permit applications in Shanghai. This will  mean that the applicant is not required to travel home to apply for the Z visa.

More information

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Immigration team at or call +44(0)20 8836 3359.

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