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New Foreigners’ Work Permit System for China


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China is rolling out a new work system for the examination of applications from foreigners seeking work in China.

On 27 September 2016, the China State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs issued documents called the Pilot Implementation Plan of the Work Permit System for Foreigners in China(“New Work Permit System”) under the Notice of the State Council on Standardizing Administrative Examination and Approvals by Departments of the State Council to Improve Work Related to Administrative Approvals
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issued by the State Council on 19 January 2015 and the Letter of Opinions on Integration of Work Permit System for Foreigners in China issued by the Audit and Reform Office of the State Council. It plans to combine the old “Alien Employment Permit” and “Foreign Expert Certificate” to one named “Foreigner’s Work Permit”.

The New Work Permit System divides foreigners who work in China into the following three categories in order to implement a principle of “encouraging high-end talents, controlling foreigners with ordinary quality and limiting low-quality foreigners”:

1. Class A refers to foreign talents;
2. Class B refers to foreign specialties; and
3. Class C refers to normal foreigners.

Under the new system, it is clear that China will implement a measure of “quantitative restrictions” according to which there is not any limit on the number of applicants in Class A, but the applicants in Class B are limited based on market demand, and those in Class C are strictly controlled under quota.

In accordance with the New Work Permit System, there are two methods to classify foreigners. They are the “standard conformity method” and “integral method”. The former set up many conditions for each class subject to a purpose of optimization of personnel structure and protection of local labor employment. If a foreigner meets one of the following conditions, he/she shall be determined as a talent in Class A directly:

1. Has been selected by China talent import plan;
2. Has received internationally recognized rewards;
3. Is doing a scarce jobs encouraged by Chinese government;
4. Has demonstrated innovative and entrepreneurial talent; and/or
5. Has been selected by the Youth-Talent project.

Conditions set for Class B include:

1. Having a Bachelor or higher degree, two years full time related work experience, and meets specified conditions for specific work;
2. Having a Masters degree from any university in Mainland China;
3. Having a Masters degree from any world top 100 universities according to the ranking released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University; or
4. For foreigners wishing to teach foreign language in China, they should have Bachelor or higher degrees, two years full time teaching experience, and in principle the taught foreign language shall be the native language of the foreigners.

For foreigners who come to China based on government agreement; whose internship is based on a government agreement; who are domestic helpers serving for Class A persons; or who undertake some seasonal employment on the borders of China that is approved by the Chinese government, they will be classified as Class C.

Alternatively, the “integral method” is another way to determine which class a foreigner should be by calculating his/her personal comprehensive quality score as provided in the New Work Permit System. For foreigners in Class A, their scores shall be no less than 85; and for those in Class B, the scores shall be over 60.

Along with the New Work Permit System, several detailed descriptions including a table listing ten relevant factors for accounting scores were released at the same time. In accordance with the Table, these ten factors such as annual salary, education level, relevant work experience, yearly working hours in China, mandarin level, working places in China, age and others will be considered for calculation of a foreigner’s personal comprehensive quality score in order to determine which class he/she is.

Firstly, scores range for annual salaries paid by the domestic employers is from 0 to 20. If a foreigner’s annual salary is no less than RMB¥450 thousands, he/she can have 20 scores. For foreigners whose annual salaries in China are RMB¥350- 450 thousands, RMB¥250- 350 thousands, RMB¥150- 250 thousands or RMB¥50- 70 thousands, their corresponding scores will be 17, 14, 11, 8 and 5 respectively. Obviously, there isn’t any score for the foreigners whose annual salary is under RMB¥50 thousands. Secondly, for the foreigners with a Doctor, Master or Bachelor degree, they can have 20, 15 or 10 scores separately. Meanwhile, foreigners having two or more years relevant working experience can get 5- 15 scores. While foreigners whose yearly working hours in China are more than 3 months, they can have 5-15 scores. In addition, For the foreigners whose mandarin are in level 1-5 in the Chinese Proficiency Test, the corresponding scores are from 2- 10. If they working places in China are located in the western region, the northeast region, other old industrial base or the central area of national poverty-stricken counties and other special areas, they can also have 10 scores. Interestingly, foreigners aged from 26 to 45 can have 15 scores; those aged from 18 to 25 or from 46 to 55 can have 10 scores; and those aged from 56 to 60 can have 5 scores only. Furthermore, for foreigners who graduated from the world famous university or have work experience in the global top 500 enterprise, they can obtain 5 scores. Finally, no more than 10 encouraged additional scores can be given by local Provincial Department of Foreign Work Administration.

Since October 2016, the New Work Permit System has been applicable in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Anhui, Shandong, Sichuan, Yunnan and Ningxia, being experimental units until March 2017. It will apply across China from 1 April 2017.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Xia Yu
Xia Yu is a Partner in the MMLC Group.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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