Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel bans, in 2021 many foreigners returning to their home countries have been restricted from re-entering China due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel bans. Renewing Chinese work permit has become a complicated matter.

Although the Chinese government has issued a temporary policy that allows foreigners to renew their work permits remotely, due to many difficulties in applying for foreigners’ residence permits, expiration of the residence permit may hinder them from applying for work permits for the second time. This process has not been completely resolved.

In July some local governments appeared to tighten regulations on work permit applications to prevent people from setting up shell companies solely for visa purposes.

It is highly recommended that foreigners understand these policy changes and make proper and adequate preparations.

To support foreigners stranded overseas to renew their Chinese work permits, many local overseas offices have issued temporary policies. The Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs issued the notice on the Implementation of “No Visits” examination and approval for foreigners’ work permits related issues in Shanghai on February 1.

According to this updated policy, foreigners who want to get their work permits renewed no longer need to bring the original application documents to the local foreign affairs office in China. Instead, by making a commitment to the authenticity of the documents, they can renew their work permits remotely.

The above policy is of great help to the process of work permits renewal for all applicants. However, some issues have not been fully resolved.

Since there is no renewal of the residence permit renewal policy, foreigners still need to be stay in China and provide entry records to renew their residence permit. Many foreigners’ work permits have been updated, but their residence permits are about to expire.         

A valid resident permit is one of the primary requirements for the renewal of a work permit, without a valid residence permit, expatriates stranded outside China may not be able to renew their work permits anymore.

The situation might be more serious after 12 months when the work permit needs to be renewed again. As the rules for renewal of residence permits remain unchanged, those who failed to renew their residence permits last year may not be able to renew their residence permits this year.

However there are some situation in some cities. For example in Shenzhen, foreigners can ask their Chinese employers to cancel their work permits or they can let their work permits expire on their own. When they need to return to China, applicants can reapply for a work permit as their first application.

To help your foreign employers to solve their visa issue, you can make some preparations as follows:

  • Make sure to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect your health.
  • Pay attention to the latest policies published on the website of the Chinese embassy in your home country-sometimes the policy updates of different embassies in the same country may not be synchronized. Please check it from time to time.
  • Apply for a new criminal record and notarize it before you plan to come to China.

In addition to worrying news, in July, the Foreign Affairs Office of Guangdong Province appeared to tighten the requirements for work permit applications. This can be a big hurdle for startups, because obtaining work permits is usually the first step in sending employees to China.

First-time work permit applicants are required to provide other materials that have never been requested before, including (for your reference):

  • Company office leasing contract
  • Company’s current stage operation introduction
  • Proof to show the necessity, urgency, and importance of hiring foreign nationals.
  • Contact with clients/vendors
  • Custom export sheet

We believe that the purpose of tightening work permit application rules is to ensure that applicants really need to work in China, and not for other unrelated reasons because during the pandemic, some foreigners seem to set up companies in China just to obtain work visas.

From our recent experience, compared with other senior management positions, the legal representative of the company seems to require fewer supporting documents to obtain approval.

The reason is that the legal representative of a Chinese company needs to be present in person to go through some company-related procedures, such as going to the bank to handle a basic bank account, opening a company tax account with the tax bureau, and completing a real-name authentication test.

However, the legal representative now needs to sign a labor contract instead of simply uploading a business license. In addition, the legal representative must have a certain position in the company.

If the employee is not legal representative of a Chinese local company, more documents should be prepared in advance to support the application.

In the recent feedback on the work permit system we received from the Guangzhou Administration of Foreign Exchange, the company that hires foreigners must have or is expected to make a written commitment to hire Chinese employees, otherwise the work permit of its foreign employees may not be renewed or applied.

This is also a way to ensure the normal operation of the company (rather than a shell company established for visa purposes). If the company that promised to hire Chinese employees still fails to do so, the renewal of the work permit may also be rejected.

As a professional business services provider, GoVisaChina can provide you the necessary support in assessing your eligibility and feasibility, as well as processing your application for a Chinese work permit. Please contact us without hesitation or email us at: support@govisachina.com