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How to Apply for Work Visas In China

How to Apply for Work Visas In China

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Key Takeaways

  1. What are work visas in China, what are the various types of work visas, and what are they applicable for
  2. Understanding the basic employee requirements for a work visa in China, the application procedure, and the documents that need to be submitted by the employee and employer
  3. The three-tiered classification system for work permits – A, B, and C and how these are distinguished by the qualifications and skills of employees working in China
  4. What is the China work visa point system, the timeframe for work permit application, and the work permit fees

As your business intends to expand in China, you’ll need to research the various visa options and decide which ones are most advantageous for your staff. Do they require a work permit, a permanent residency visa, or both, for example? What information and paperwork are needed to apply for a residency permit? These issues and a few more are crucial to ensure that you seamlessly expand your business in China.

Types of Work Visas in China

China uses a set of abbreviations along with letters and numbers to name various visa types. For example, some of the visas used in the country are: 

Z Visa:

The Z work visa in China is for workers planning to stay there for more than six months. 

X1/2 Visa:

This visa is applicable for students. The X1 is relevant for people planning to stay for more than 180 days, while X2 means the duration is less than 180 days.   

J1/2 Visa:

This visa is issued to foreign journalists for staying for a specific duration in the country.    

M Visa:

This is a visa for business owners that allows a stay of 30 to 60 days.   

F Visa:

This visa is issued to exchange students, study tours, or visitors for a duration of 30 to 60 days.   

Recent Changes in China's Labor Market

In response to evolving global dynamics, China has implemented a more transparent and dynamic process for foreign workers. This strategic shift has resulted in a notable surge in work permit applications within the country, largely attributed to the introduction of streamlined visa procedures, including the facilitation of online applications.

What are the Basic Employee Requirements for a China Work Visa?

  1. Age and Health Criteria: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and in good health.
  2. Criminal Record: A clean criminal record is a prerequisite.
  3. Sponsorship Requirement: Prospective employees must secure sponsorship from a specific employer.
  4. Skill and Experience: Individuals should possess the required skills and work experience aligning with the job requirements set by the employer.
  5. Travel Documents: A valid passport and all necessary travel documents are mandatory.

What is the Application Procedure?

Visit the Chinese embassy or Visa Application Service Centre nearest you to submit an application for a work permit in China. Basic documentation must be provided by your employee. Additionally, China rates work permit applications according to the value the applicant provides to the nation, taking into account a number of variables including age, Mandarin proficiency, work experience, qualifications, and salary. The additional benefits an applicant may receive depend on their score. Applying for a visa approximately one month before travelling to China is advised.

After arriving in China, many of your employees will apply for Z visas and require a Chinese residence permit, which they must obtain within 30 days. To apply for this permit, they must:

  1. Notification Letter: Obtain an official letter (Notification letter) from Chinese authorities, a process that typically takes 3-4 weeks and involves application at the local Labor Bureau.
  2. Embassy Application: Apply for a work permit at the Chinese embassy in the applicant’s home country.
  3. Entry and Medical Examination: Upon obtaining the Z-visa, enter China, undergo a mandatory medical examination.
  4. Residence Registration: Register your residence at the local police station.
  5. Residence Permit and Work Permit Application: Replace the Z-visa with a working-purpose residence permit and proceed with the application for a Work Permit.

What Documents Does Your Employee Need to Submit?

  1. Diploma: Submission of the original diploma and an authenticated and legalized copy.
  2. Police Clearance Certificate: An original copy authenticated and legalized.
  3. Work Experience Certificate: A copy justifying at least 24 months of experience.
  4. CV: A comprehensive and up-to-date curriculum vitae.
  5. Labor Contract: A signed labor contract.
  6. Medical Report: A detailed medical report.
  7. Residence Registration Form: Submission of the police registration form of residence.

What Documents Are Required From the Employer?

  1. Business License: Submission of the business license along with a certificate of approval.
  2. Legal Representative’s Passport: Passport of the legal representative.
  3. Company Stamp: An authorised company stamp.

Unravel the Work Permit Maze

Chinese regulations have established a three-tiered classification system for work permits – A, B, and C. These categories are distinguished by the qualifications and skills of employees working in China.

Class A is reserved for High-Level Experts, and applicants enjoy expedited approval compared to the other categories. Class A applicants have the unique advantage of not having to submit a diploma or police clearance certificate. Furthermore, Class A work permits accommodate individuals aged 60 and above.

The prerequisites for Class A work permits include a monthly salary exceeding 50,000 RMB and employment in Shanghai. Additionally, applicants must be international prize-winners in fields such as sciences, architecture, arts, sports, music, literary, and industrial design. Selection under the China National Talent Import Plan, as well as holding a Doctor’s degree or higher from a Chinese University or one of the top 500 universities globally, is mandatory.

Class B caters to Professional Workers, predominantly in the age group of 18 to 60. Requirements involve a Bachelor’s degree plus two years of full-time work experience post-graduation. Alternatively, candidates must hold a Master’s degree from a Chinese university or one of the top 100 global universities.

Class C, designated for Low-Skilled Workers, includes junior positions for individuals aged 18 to 60. Qualifications vary, requiring a Bachelor’s degree or higher from a university in Shanghai or employment by a company registered in the Zhangjiang High Tech Park or Shanghai FTZ. Master’s degree holders from a Chinese university or equivalent (with a score of at least 80/100 or B+/B) can also qualify, provided they are employed by a Shanghai-registered company. Additionally, being part of the “French Intern 1000 Plan” qualifies individuals for Class C.

China Work Visa Point System

The China work visa point system, introduced as part of the country’s efforts to manage its foreign workforce, categorizes applicants based on various criteria into three distinct tiers: A, B, and C. This system aims to attract high-skilled talent while regulating the entry of lower-skilled workers. 

Advantages of Higher Points:

Individuals in higher categories, especially Category A, often benefit from a more streamlined application process, longer visa durations, and other privileges.

What is the Timeframe for Work Permit Application

Upon securing the Z visa, individuals are required to enter China within a 30-day timeframe. Subsequently, within the first 15 days of arrival, the application must be submitted to the local labor and social security bureau. Following this, the approval for the work permit is typically granted within 30 days of entering China. However, the issuance of the permit itself takes an additional duration of approximately 4 to 6 weeks. This structured timeline ensures a systematic and timely progression through the various stages of the work permit application process for a smooth transition into working in China.

What Are the Work Permit Fees?

The fees associated with the China work permit exhibit variability contingent on factors such as the applicant’s home country, chosen processing speed, and the selected application method. It’s essential to consider these dynamic elements when gauging the financial aspects of the application. As a general estimate, applicants can anticipate costs ranging from approximately 1,000 to 1,500 CNY. This range provides flexibility and caters to the diverse circumstances and preferences of individuals seeking to obtain a work permit in China.

Additional Important Factors

Your chosen employees who you’re looking to hire from China must indicate whether they want a single, double, or multiple entry on their Working Visa Application Form. This figure will indicate the frequency and timing of their entry into China. For instance, returning from a trip to Hong Kong or Macao is a new entry requiring a multiple-entry or double-entry visa. If your employees will not travel abroad while in China, a single-entry visa suffices and will be less expensive.

How Can Horizons Help?

At Horizons, we’re dedicated to removing obstacles in the way of international hiring, creating opportunities for everyone everywhere, and helping businesses realise their workforce’s full potential. Regardless of your employees’ location, we take full responsibility for helping you completely comply with local laws and ensure that everything, from hiring and onboarding to paying them, is simple and quick.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Z visa allows only single-time entry. After arriving in China, one has to register them to the designated police station as required by the law within 30 days. Once the residence permit is issued, one will be allowed to have multiple entries.

The family members of Z visa or X1 visa holders will be required to apply for the S1 visa. In Addition, a copy of the main applicant’s supporting paperwork like the Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit and Working Permit along with Admission Notice and Original proof of Kinship will be required.

No. Once entered into China, one cannot change the type of visa. Instead, you have to exit the country and apply for a new visa.

No. To be eligible for working in China, your talent will require a China work visa (Z-visa) authorised by the Chinese authorities.

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