CHINA: New Work Permit Framework Implemented

From 1st April 2017, a new work permit framework will be introduced across China. The Shanghai Foreign Expert Bureau has announced that Shanghai will move to the new unified work permit system on 27th March 2017, earlier than the planned nationwide start date. Work permits will be split into three categories, and an online management system will be launched.

The programme was piloted in 10 cities in November 2016, as reported in our news from last year, and will now be implemented nationwide.

This new framework has been introduced to consolidate the work authorisation process into a single employment permit. The process will operate under a points based system, with applicants being scored according to factors including their age, salary, educational background, Mandarin language proficiency, and work location and duration.

The three new categories, and the required criteria for applicants, are as follows:

Category A:

  • Internationally recognised award recipients
  • Applicants selected for the China talent program
  • Applicants with market-demand talent encouraged by the Chinese government
  • Entrepreneurs on innovative projects
  • Applicants selected for the ‘Youth Talent Project’

Category B:

  • Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher with at least two years of related work experience
  • Those who hold a master’s degree or higher from a university within mainland China
  • Applicants with a master’s degree or higher who are from an international top 100 university
  • Any foreign language teachers in China

Category C:

  • Any foreign workers who work for government projects in China
  • Interns that are based on a government agreement
  • All foreign helpers who are coming to China to work for a High-Level Foreign Expert
  • Foreign nationals working in offshore fishing or other special areas
  • Some seasonal workers

The government will highly encourage group A, while limiting group B and restricting group C applicants. The minimum scores required for group A and B are 85 and 60 respectively. There is no minimum score for category C.

Our advice

Chinese companies wishing to sponsor foreign nationals should register with the online management system as soon as possible; this must be completed prior to applying for work authorisation. Although the new system will eventually streamline the process, employers should be prepared for delays in processing times during the transition period and be aware that delays should also be allowed for due to new rules on obtaining legalisation of documents.

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

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