Top 10 FAQs about the Foreigner’s Work Permit in China 2023

Now Shenzhen   |   February 25, 2024

According to the top 10 FAQs about the Foreigner’s Work Permit in China received by Shanghai’s science and technology 114 service hotline in 2023, we hereby provide a comprehensive policy interpretation for employers and foreigners working in Shanghai.

Does China’s mandatory retirement age of 60 apply to foreign employees? If an employer plans to hire a foreigner over 60, must it/can it apply for a work permit for him/her? What kind of contract will be signed?

Foreigners with valid work permits and work-type residence permits can legally work in China. There is no age restriction on applicants for a Category A work permit as high-level talents. Restrictions on age, educational qualifications, and work experience may be relaxed for foreigners who qualify as innovative and entrepreneurial talents or professional and technical talents, who meet the points-based criteria, and who implement intergovernmental agreements or arrangements.

Does an employer still need to apply for a Foreigner’s Work Permit for its foreign employees holding a Permanent Residence Permit?

A foreigner holding a Permanent Residence Permit is exempt from applying for a Foreigner’s Work Permit. However, they may choose to do so to access Shanghai’s additional benefits such as FAST PASS.

Can an employer assign a foreign employee to work outside Shanghai on a long-term basis, or to hold additional posts in an affiliated company in Shanghai?

According to the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China, foreign employees must work within the scope prescribed in their work permits. They are prohibited from cross-provincial/municipal or part-time work, but short-term business travel is not included in these restrictions.

If the operator at an employer has resigned without completing the transfer of duties, how can one log to the system to process work permits for foreigners?

The employer can retrieve the legal representative’s account and password via the Service System for Foreigners Working in China. Once logged in, the employer must update its information (operator) change. Upon offline window verification, the new operator may proceed with applying for a Foreigner’s Work Permit.

If an employer terminates the labor relationship with a foreigner who refuses to sign, can the employer cancel his/her work permit?

The application for cancelling a Foreigner’s Work Permit must be made within ten working days of the termination of the labor relationship. The documents required include an application form and a separation certificate signed and stamped by both parties. The application must be submitted by the employer in the Service System for Foreigners Working in China. Work permits cannot be cancelled unilaterally.

Can an employer recruit foreign students for summer internships?

In line with national regulations, employers may apply for Category C work permits for qualified interns from Germany, France, and Singapore.

If foreigners intend to catch up on social security payments, but their current work permits do not reflect past certification records, can the Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) provide these records to the social security department?

Foreigners can submit documents to the SAFEA’s window in the administrative district of application to request for work experience certificates. For work experience in Shanghai before 2017, applications should be directed to the Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms.

After receiving the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit but facing a visa appointment at the embassy or consulate months later, can foreigners apply for a work visa at China’s embassy and consulate in another country or region, or alter the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit?

Once issued, the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit cannot be altered. The application for a work visa must be made to the embassy or consulate as indicated on the Notification Letter. Embassies and consulates in other countries or regions cannot process this work visa. Employers are advised to carefully select the visa application location in consultation with the foreign applicant when applying for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit.

After receiving the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit, but due to the prolonged work visa application, foreigners have entered China on a tourist or visitor visa. Can they apply for a work permit directly?

Foreigners intending to work in China must apply for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit from abroad and enter China on a work visa. Direct application is only allowed with all application documents required for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit and the Foreigner’s Work Permit under any of the following conditions:

  1. Foreign high-end talents (Category A) who have entered China with a visa or a valid residence permit;
  2. Foreigners working in China who change their employer but not their job (occupation), provided that their Residence Permit for Work remains valid;
  3. Foreign spouses or children of Chinese citizens, or spouses or children of foreigners who permanently reside or work in China with a valid visa or residence permit;
  4. Foreigners who are eligible for the related preferential policies of a free trade zone or a pilot zone for comprehensive innovation reform;
  5. Employers who conform to the relevant preferential policies for MNC headquarters in China;
  6. Foreigners who are subject to personnel flow within the corporation;
  7. Foreigners who execute intergovernmental agreements or arrangements;
  8. Representatives of foreign organizations in China who have entered China on a work visa, and foreigners with a valid Foreigner’s Work Permit less than 90 days who are legally hired by an employer in China during their stay;
  9. Foreigners who have worked legally in China in good faith for no less than one consecutive year;
  10. Foreigners identified eligible by other approval agencies.

Can a foreigner with a Category B Work Permit, who has been working for the same employer for many years, have his/her work permit further extended?

Foreign professionals (Category B) who have applied for a Foreigner’s Work Permit twice (a new application and an extension) without changing employers will be entitled to a two-year validity period according to the terms of the contract when applying for a subsequent extension.