CHINA: Employment Permit and Foreign Expert Certificate to be Consolidated

From 1st October 2016, the employment permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and the foreign expert certificate issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, will be consolidated into a single permit.

The integrated mechanism will be launched on 1st October in nine pilot provinces/cities (Anhui, Beijing, Guangdong, Heibei, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan, Shanghai and Tianjin), and expanded nationwide on 1st April 2017. Once the new system takes effect, foreign nationals will have the option to either retain their current work permit or foreign expert certificate for the remainder of the period of validity, or replace the existing permit with the integrated work permit.

A new work permit application procedure will allow applicants to download forms from the internet and submit them electronically. A permanent code will be assigned to the application that will enable the tracking of the individual”s personal information. The modified application procedure will significantly reduce the amount of required documentation, eliminate the need for repetitive checks by the authorities and expedite approval processing time.

The administration will issue new work permit cards equipped with contactless chips, carrying the holder”s name, photo, visa number, duration and expiry date of permitted stay, and workplace.

Under the integrated system, foreign nationals working in China will be categorized into one of three groups (A, B and C) that will identify the holder as high-end personnel, professional personnel, or temporary and seasonal personnel in the service or non-technical sectors.

The government will highly encourage group A, while limiting group B and restricting group C applicants. A “green channel” will also be available to high-end personnel.

Criteria such as salary, educational background, the length of time services are provided, Chinese language proficiency, age and work experience will be evaluated in determining the applicable group. The total “scores” will be added, with a score of below 60 for group C, 60 and over for group B and 85 and over for group A.

The authorities are expected to issue more detailed implementation rules in the near future.

Our advice

It is important that all companies employing foreign nationals in China, or sending employees on assignment to China, should expect major changes to work authorisation procedures in the coming months.

For further information on this topic, or for advice on Chinese immigration in general, please email us at

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