A constant headache for expats are China’s ever-changing visa laws. The most recent version of the Exit-Entry Law of People’s Republic of China aims at facilitating the importation of foreign talents and further regulate foreigners’ exit and entry administration, and has been in effect since July 2013. At the time four new types of visas for foreigners were added, making a total of 12 types of visa.
- M Visa Issued to foreigners who come to China for business or commercial activities. F visas (former business visas) will be limited to foreigners who enter China for non-business matters such as academic exchange;
- R Visa Issued to highly skilled foreign professionals whose special talent is urgently needed in China. However, the present law does not specify the criteria to qualify;
- Q Visa Issued to individuals who enter China for family reunion or on a short-term basis to visit Chinese family members. Q visa is divided into Q1 visa (long term stay-more than 180 days) and Q2 visa (short-term stay-less than or equal to 180 days);
- S Visa Issued to family members of foreigners residing in China for work or study purposes. S visa is divided into S1 visa (long term stay-more than 180 days) and S2 visa (short-term stay-less than or equal to 180 days).
The law strengthened the precaution of the so-called Three Illegal problems (Illegal Entry, Illegal Residency and Illegal Employment) of foreigners, and also defined other circumstances of illegal behavior, for example, issuing fake invitation letters or other application documents for foreigners.
In addition, the 2013 law clarifies requirements regarding time limit for certificate application, delay limit, certificate of relative relationship, the company’s business license copy, certificate expiration penalty, the validity of holding card receipt, among others.
Furthermore, the Exit-entry Administration Bureau can ask foreigners, who apply for residence permits, for fingerprints or other biometric data, or interviews.
Upon meeting the requirements of “bachelor degree or above, two years of full-time work experience, under the age of 60,” one needs a Certification of No Criminal Record, medical check, Employment Permit and Work Visa Invitation Letter in turn, at the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and Commerce Commission. Moreover, the employed foreign worker needs to return to their own country to obtain the working visa from the Chinese embassy or consulate (valid for 30 days), re-enter China, then apply for the Employment Permit and Residence Permit Visa at the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Public Security Bureau in China.
If an employed foreigner needs to change their job, the employed foreign worker shall first obtain an Employment Permit to Move Out / Cancel in the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and apply for the Employment Permit and Residence Permit Visa at the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Public Security Bureau in their city of destination.
Concerning students who are in China and would like to participate in a work-study program or an internship off-campus, they first need an approval from the relevant education institution and to register with the Exit-entry Administration Bureau.
The present law is stricter especially for those who want to come to work and live in China long term, indicating a more stringent approach in approving visa applications. However, China’s economic development is attracting increasing numbers of foreigners, so we can expect regulations to be adapted to this reality.
This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completenes