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Making mobility work: managing the hard and soft issues

The talk of last month’s Worldwide ERC Shanghai Summit was news the Foreign Experts Bureau will take responsibility from Saturday (1 April) for processing China’s new, points-based system of work permits.

The long-awaited introduction of the new centralized system pledges to improve transparency, and streamline the immigration and compliance process for businesses and individuals.

Amid the rush from employers to register to use the new online application procedures and warnings of extended processing times, the move raises many questions, challenges and opportunities.

Listening to mobility and HR practitioners at Sterling’s recent Beijing workshop and on our stand in the WERC Shanghai Summit Market Place last month, there is great interest in how these big changes will be applied in practice.

A change in perspective?

Worldwide ERC Shanghai Summit

For many of the HR and mobility practitioners we spoke to, the key point is how immigration offices are going to implement this new national approach and deal with fast-evolving processes and advice.

The new centralized system is as a major step-change from the formerly locally administered scheme. It links with current leadership calls for China to be open for business, and to think locally and globally simultaneously in order to attract people with key skills and international business partners.

Such progress also offers HR and mobility a chance to adapt and rise to the changes. Operationally, for example, HR and mobility teams might get ahead by extending networks to learn from the national pilot jurisdictions’ experiences. Sterling’s own local in-house immigration experts are part of a global network where compliance and permit and visa changes happen almost daily. We are always happy to listen, reassure and advise with our perspectives on this important issue.

Beyond borders

Equally, as this policy change underlines, the mobility landscape in China is changing. Just as China is a hotspot attracting and developing world-leading experts and enterprises, a glance at any financial page is enough to know companies headquartered here are looking beyond national and regional borders to Europe.

Sterling understands this raises technical questions on how companies can move employees from the national to the, say, European stage – another of the key concerns of those the company spoke to at the WERC Shanghai Summit.

Worldwide ERC Shanghai Summit

How companies can set up a European entity, best prepare and support assignees, and finance the move are just some of the conversations we were able to have. As truly a global company, headquartered in Europe with established offices in China, Sterling offers timely, expert advice and dedicated, tailored support throughout the assignment lifecycle, wherever it takes place.

We will be hosting an event to update on the immigration changes in Shanghai on 10th May. Please contact apac@sterling.com for more information

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