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Revamping the Work Authorization Process for Foreigners

Recently the Chinese authorities have announced changes regarding applications for work authorization of foreigners in China .Effective 1 April 2017, State Administration of Foreign Experts' Affairs (SAFEA) will issue only one type of work authorization, the "Foreigner Work Permit". This authorization will replace the two current modes of authorization, being the Employment Permit and Expert Permit.

The new Foreigner Work Permit will act as an identity card with an electronic chip that contains basic information of the card holder. A permanent work permit number will also be assigned to each foreigner who receives the work permit card in China, regardless of changes in employer or location. The new card will replace the former "Alien Work Permit" and "Foreign Expert Permit" documents.

Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan and Ningxia have been identified as the provinces and cities which will trial the new approach before 1 April 2017.

Key issues

Single evaluation criterion for applications

Under the new arrangement, foreign nationals will be evaluated by many factors and classified into three categories based on a defined scoring scheme, which measures the individual's capability, achievements, contribution to society, salary income level, education, work experience, age, Chinese level etc.

This category of foreigners is highly encouraged by SAFEA. This category of talent will generally include foreign nationals who:

Category A: Senior talent

  1. Are selected under the China talent introduction program;

  2. Meet internationally recognized standards of professional achievement;

  3. Fit into an encouraged position in accordance with the China market needs;

  4. Hold innovation and entrepreneurial talent;

  5. Qualify as outstanding young talent; or

  6. Reach the scoring of 85 points and above through the evaluation scoring scheme.

This category of foreigners is will be subject to heavier controls and testing by SAFEA. This category of talent will generally include foreign nationals who:

Category B: Professional talent

  1. Hold a bachelor or above degree certificate and minimum 2 years related work experience post university graduation, under the age of 60 years old and with at least middle level position within the company;

  2. Hold a master degree or above and graduated from a Chinese University with honors;

  3. Hold a master degree or above and graduated from one of the world top 100 universities. The top 100 university reference is yet to be formalized for this test, however it is understood that the ranking will be provided by one of the top Chinese universities.

  4. Foreign language teachers; or

  5. Individuals who reach a score of between 60 to 84 points through the evaluation scoring scheme.

This category of foreigners is strictly limited by SAFEA and a quota of approvals applies.

Category C: Seasonal labor, foreign nanny employed by foreign senior talent or foreign intern in accordance with the agreement signed between Chinese and foreign country's governments

Supporting documents for work authorization will be standardized across the nation, including but not limited to police checks, medical examination reports, legalized highest degree certificate, qualification certificate etc.

New Integrated Online System

From 1 April 2017, all work authorization applications will be processed through a new online system called "Foreign National Work Authorization Online Management and Services System". Every company is required to register in the system, having a company contact and registered account which will be used to file all applications.Clear, color scanned copies of the required documentation will first need to be uploaded to the online system and reviewed by the authorities before the authorization submission can be made.

Fast Channel for Senior Talent

Applications for foreigners who qualify as Senior Talent (Category A) will receive preferential treatment, including; faster processing times, less physical document submission, no retirement age limitation, more flexibility over required documents, accepting commitment in place of a police check and longer validity of the Foreigner Work Permit Card.

Information Sharing with Related China Immigration Authorities

Information and application status can be shared among the various Chinese Immigration authorities to bring efficiency and accuracy to the immigration process.

EY perspective

The new measures of work authorization applications involve higher transparency, closer supervision, better data collection and analysis for both companies and foreign employees. The new system is designed to provide more effective management of foreign labour in China for both the authorities as well as sponsoring companies. 


Regarding from above, it turns out that china government is trying to encourage and attract more top talent coming to china however may impose heavier controls on some sub-sets of the foreign labor in the Chinese labor market. Thus Companies should continue to monitor the implementation of the new system and authorization process in their location and ensure their business is ready to adapt to the changes.

All in all, the revision could be the good chance for both the company and the foreign employees, especially for the companies in China, it's important to map the blueprint on how to grasp this opportunity to recruit the high quality employees .Click the image below to get more info related to the recruitment process outsourcing.


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