The Shanghai Foreign Expert Bureau has announced that it will move to the new unified work permit system on 27 March 2017, earlier than the planned nationwide start date of 1 April 2017.
Employers who wish to sponsor foreign national workers in China after these dates must be registered to use the new online application system. Those who have not yet registered should do so as soon as possible.
During the trial period, the new procedure has seen increased processing times due to extra steps and system implementation, and the requirement to submit legalised educational diplomas and police clearance certificates has slowed the process further.
However, an invitation letter from the Chinese authorities is no longer required in support of a consular Z Visa application (only an invitation letter from the host company in China), a change which should ease the visa application process.
A new integrated work authorisation policy was launched on 1 October with a trial in nine pilot provinces/cities (Anhui, Beijing, Guangdong, Heibei, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan, Shanghai and Tianjin). It consolidates the previous employment permit issued by the Labour Bureau, and the Foreign Expert Certificate issued by the Foreign Expert Bureau, into a single, unified work permit.
Under the integrated system, foreign nationals working in China are categorised into one of three groups (A, B and C) that identify the holder as high-end personnel, professional personnel, or temporary and seasonal personnel in the service or non-technical sectors.
Criteria such as salary, educational background, length of time services are provided, Chinese language proficiency, age and work experience are 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.