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Are the recent Chinese work permit changes a positive step forward?

March 31,2017 | Summer Xin

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) announced:


  • A move to a shared online system for visa applications and renewals,


  • A new pilot program for five-year work permits, available to foreign workers that have been employed for two consecutive years in China,


  • Other welcome changes to visa regulations.


In short, the good news is that the Chinese government is making it easier to attract and retain foreign talent, to help deliver their National Innovation-Driven Development Strategy -  attracting the best and brightest talent in the world in order to transform the country into a global powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation by 2050.


Whats changed?

Previously, Visa requirements, processing centres and specific procedures could all vary from city to city, making the process a little more opaque than other major world economies.


Chinese visa applications would broadly follow this procedure:

old process.png

An application would be initially filed to the Chinese consulate in the home country, which, after receiving an invitation letter, would need to be followed up with local immigration centres in the destination city to receive all local permits.


Unfortunately, Chinese Visa renewals also followed this same process, resulting in the applicant having to return to their home country in order to renew documents, a cumbersome programme which could leave some companies short of talent in the meantime.


From April 2017, after successful trials, all Chinese cities will be moving to a shared online system, reducing the volume of documentation required and creating a much smoother process, with visa renewals now possible without the applicant needing to return to their home country.

new process.png

This new system now creates a greater degree of certainty for new applicants, as the process is now common across the entire country, while reducing the volume of paperwork and making renewals much more straight-forward.


In addition, the MPS has announced a pilot program for a five-year work permit available to foreign employees that have worked for two or more consecutive years in China, running alongside other changes to the governments work permit policy, such as the removal of the two-year works experience requirement for some qualified talent.


Other key changes over the last twelve months include:

China immigration changes.png

(Image Courtesy of Amcham China)


These welcome changes now make it easier for businesses to attract and retain talent within one of the worlds' fastest growing economies. Is now the time you expand into China?


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