Obtain a Work Visa & Work Permit in China
The following guide explains how to get a China Work Visa and a Residence Permit in order to legally work in China.
Basic eligibility requirements to obtain a work permit in China
Recently, China has instituted a more open and active embrace of foreign workers, which has led to a substantial increase in work permit applications in the countries. The application process has been streamlined and can mostly be completed online. Employers who are interested in hiring foreigners to work in China must comply with local laws and regulations regarding the hiring of foreign staff, such as having a legal entity of their business in China and the appropriate certifications from local government entities.
Employees must also meet basic requirements in order to qualify for a work permit in China. While these eligibility criteria may differ depending on the type of permit obtained, general requirements for the employee include:
- Be at least 18 years old and in good health
- No criminal record
- Have a specified employer
- Have the requisite skills and work experience to fill the employer’s vacancy
- Have a valid passport and any other required travel documents
Getting the work permit in China
Application from home country
Before being able to apply for a China Work Visa (“Z-Visa”) at a Chinese embassy abroad, applicants shall first get the Notification Letter for Foreigner’s Work Permit (“Notification Letter”), which is the official Letter from the Chinese authorities stating that an applicant has been approved to work in China.
To be granted the Notification Letter, the employer has to apply first by providing the required documentation to a local Labor Bureau. It took approximately 3-4 weeks to obtain the Notification Letter.
Then, applicants may apply for a Work Visa at the Chinese embassy in their home country.
After getting the Z-Visa, applicants may enter in China. They would have to undertake a medical examination and to register their residence at the local police station. Then, the 2 last steps would be to replace the Z-visa with a working-purpose Residence Permit and to apply for Work Permit.
Application in China
For applicants who are already in China and wishing to get a Work Permit in tier-1 city, it is possible to apply directly for the Work Permit by submitting all the required documentation to the local Labor Bureau. When the Work Permit would be issued, applicants will then have to apply for a working-purpose Residence Permit (in tier-1 cities, it is possible to convert a Tourist Visa, a Business Visa China and a Study Visa into a residence Permit – applicants can hence avoid having to go back to their home countries to apply for a Work Visa and then come back again in China).
Generally, the following documents are required to be produced:
From the Employee
- Diploma: the original degree has to be submitted along with its authenticated and legalized copy
- Police Clearance Certificate: the original PCC has to be authenticated and legalized
- Work Experience Certificate: justifying at least 24 months of experience
- Labor Contract
- Medical Report
- Police Registration Form of Residence
From the Employer
- Business License (+ Certificate of Approval if any)
- Passport of the Legal Representative
- Company Stamp
Classification of work permits
Since April 2017, a new Chinese regulation has combined the old Alien Employment Permit and the old Foreign Expert Certificate into one and single work permit: the Foreigner’s Work Permit. The regulation also set up a classification of the work permits in 3 categories: A – B – C, depending on the qualification and the skills of each foreigners working in China:
- A = high-level experts
- B = professional workers
- C = low skilled workers
Since this classification has been set up, Class A and Class B of foreign profiles generally allow them to obtain a Work Permit. Class C refers to very specific low-skilled profiles.
To determine the classification of a Work Permit, there are two methods: be directly qualified or reach enough points on the work permit points table.
Class A work permits
Application for Class A Work Permit is faster than for Class B and Class C Work Permits. Also, applicants do not need to provide any Diploma or Police Clearance Certificate. Only Class A Work Permit allows foreigners to work if they are over 60 years old.
- High Incoming Earners with a salary of over 50,000 RMB / month + working in Shanghai
- International prize-winner in sciences, architecture, literary, arts, sports, music, industrial design
- Selected profile by the China National Talent Import Plan
- Doctor’s degree or higher from a Chinese University of from one of the World Top 500 Universities
Class B work permits
Most people qualify for Class B Work Permit. Class B Work Permit is limited to profiles between 18 and 60 years old.
- Bachelor degree + 2 years of full-time related work experience after graduation
- “Excellent” graduate with a Master’s degree from a Chinese university of from one of the World Top 100 Universities
Class C work permits
Class C referring to very specific low-skilled profiles, only junior profiles that match a direct qualification can work with a Class C work permit. Class C Work Permit is limited to profiles between 18 and 60 years old.
- Bachelor degree or higher from a university in Shanghai + employed by a company registered in the Shanghai FTZ or Zhangjiang High Tech Park
- Master’s degree or higher from a Chinese university (with a score reaching at least 80/100 or B+/B) + employed by a company registered in Shanghai
- Intern in Shanghai part of the “French Intern 1000 Plan”
China work visa points calculator
- Class A = score over 85 points
- Class B = score over 60 points
- Class C referring to very specific low-skilled profiles, only junior profiles that match a direct qualification can work with a Class C work permit.
- Applicants that do not score at least 60 points cannot be granted a Work Permit through the points system.
Legalization of Chinese Visa Documents
In addition to the required documents to be submitted to the Chinese authorities to apply for a China work permit, 2 documents now also need to be translated and authenticated before being submitted: the Diploma and the Police Clearance Certificate.
This authentication process is different for each country. Some Embassies/Consulates in China are also able to legalize documents for the Work Permit application (as for example the following Consulates: Australian, French, Greek, Indian, Spanish, British…).
Police clearance certificate
Verification from home country
After obtaining the Police Clearance Certificate in their home countries, applicants need to make it authenticated by the Chinese Embassy of their home country.
Verification in China
Some Embassies/Consulates in China are able to legalize Police Clearance Certificate.
However, in the event the Embassy/Consulate of an applicant’s home country in China does not provide such legalization, the application shall then be made in the applicant’s home country.
In this case, for applicants who are already in China, they should consider asking someone in their home country to help them: it can be a relative or an accredited company.
Taking the fingerprints in China to apply for police clearance certificate in the home country
Verification in China
Besides the authentication of Diplomas abroad, or through a Consulate in China, the Chinese Ministry of Education has launched an online system able to verify foreign Diplomas: https://renzheng.cscse.edu.cn/.
The verification process through this system takes approximately 1 month.
Verification from abroad
This authentication process is different for each country, however, everywhere, the authentication process ends with the same last step: legalization by the Chinese Embassy in the applicant’s home country.