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China – New Immigration Regulations

New immigration regulations, to be implemented on a pilot basis, came into operation in a limited number of Chinese cities recently. We haven’t yet seen the full regulations and some of the information below needs further clarification – but it does give an indication of the way the regulations are heading.

Our assessment is that it will be harder in future for young graduates with 2 years of work experience and a Bachelor’s degree to get work permits in China. And it may also be more difficult for others with more than 2 years’ work experience – but we need to wait to see how the regulations are implemented. Employees of Fortune 500 companies and certain (not yet specified) Chinese state run corporations will be given preference.

We understand that these new regulations will not be strictly implemented until April 2017

Please note too these new requirements :

  • Reference Letters need to be submitted in original
  • Non-Criminal Records, provided by the police bureau, or justice bureau, need to be legalized and notarized by the Chinese Embassy in the country where the applicant had resided
  • University academic certificates need to be notarized and legalized by the Chinese Embassy in the country where the degree was issued


The new regulations governing the issue of Work Permits are now under trial in 10 pilot cities and provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan and Yunnan. The changes will be implemented nationwide in April 2017.

Whereas previously there were two types of work permit, one issued by the Foreign Experts Bureau (for “foreign experts – generally not employed by companies but by academic institutions for example) and one by the Labor Bureau (for employees of corporations). In future there will only be one type. Work permits will be classified into three types (A,B and C), and an online management system will be introduced to facilitate the process

We understand that up until April 2017, we can choose to use the current immigration process or the new process, for most nationalities. Prospective employees from Australia, Switzerland or Egypt,however, will be handled under the new regulations since the Chinese Embassies in these three countries require the new process.

Please note that during the trial period, the new requirements may change from time to time. We will only be able to confirm the requirements in April 2017.

Category A – High-level Foreign Experts in science and technology; high-end foreign talent:

  • Individuals selected for the China Talent program.
  • Individuals who have received internationally recognized awards.
  • Individuals who are in categories where there is a high market demand for their skills (as defined by the Chinese government).
  • Foreign talent with strengths in innovation and working in starts-ups (and who have obtained a degree in one of China’s top universities).
  • Young talent: under the age of 35 and who have graduated from one of the top 200 universities inside or outside of China or young talent who have acquired Doctorates or are currently studying a Post-doctoral degree.
  • Individuals whose salary in Shanghai reached 600,000rmb per year or in Beijing reached 700,000rmb per year(excluding allowances or bonus) (US$1 = RMB 6.89 approx).

To be accepted under Category A, the applicant needs to obtain 85 points or above. Please see some indications of the grading below:

Category A applicants (ie those who meet the pre-requisites for Category A) are entitled to:

  • submit applications in advance with documents currently available and submit the remaining documents later.
  • expedited application process.
  • onshore applications available for M visa holders (applicants can hold M visa and apply for work permit directly, and do not need to apply for Z visa offshore.)

Category B – Applicants whose Skills are in demand:

  • Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least two years of related work experience who will work in mid-senior level positions in multi-national companies in China, Chief Rep and Rep at foreign representative office, members of management or technical professionals etc.
  • Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from a university in mainland China.
  • Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from an international top 100 university.
  • Foreign language teaching professionals.

To be accepted under Category B, the applicant needs to obtain 60 or above. Please see some indication of the markings below.

Category C – Temporary/certain sectors of the service sector:

  • Foreign workers approved for recruitment by the State Council or international agreements between Chinese and foreign governments.
  • Foreign Interns coming to China per government agreements.
  • Foreign helpers coming to China to work for a High-Level Foreign Expert.
  • Foreign nationals working in offshore fishing or other special areas.
  • Some seasonal workers.
  • Others.

No minimum score required.

Point Based Talent Assessment System:

  • Salary (0-20)
  • Education and credentials (10-20)
  • Relevant work experience (0-15)
  • Age (0-10), The younger you are, the higher the score.
  • University attended (5)
  • Chinese language skills (2-10)
  • Bonus points for talent in demand according to the level of development of the local economy (0-10)

What do the Changes mean for employers in China and for applicants from overseas:

  • Expect possible longer processing lead times due to additional legalized documents required i.e. academic diploma and non-criminal record.
  • Expect more documents will be required in future.
  • Expedited and preferential application process for Category A talent.
  • There will be opportunities for new excellent foreign graduates from top universities.
  • How the Pilot will be implemented is still not clear.
  • No current impact for foreign nationals who have already obtained an employment license.
  • Possibility of small differences to be seen on application documents required and applicant eligibility in different.