IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? A foreign national in Shanghai applying for a residence permit for a live-in partner must show that they are both biological parents to the same child.

What does the change mean? The change leaves very few options for unmarried cohabiting couples to qualify for a dependent resident permit other than having a biological child together or getting married.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residence permits for de facto and common law partners.
  • Who is affected: Cohabiting unmarried foreign nationals in Shanghai.
  • Impact on processing times: The time needed to obtain additional documents and have them legalized adds to overall processing times.

Background: The Shanghai Public Security Bureau recently announced that to qualify for a residence permit for a common law or de facto domestic partner, an applicant must show proof that the couple has a biological child together.

Before the rule change, an unmarried applicant could apply for a residence permit for a cohabiting partner by submitting a cohabitation certificate and other evidence supporting the relationship, but they did not have to show that they had a child together. Unmarried couples must still obtain a cohabitation certificate in addition to submitting an original birth certificate of the shared child.

Even with the new requirement, Shanghai is more liberal than Beijing, which recognizes only married applicants sponsoring a spouse’s residence permit.

BAL analysis: The new requirements make it virtually impossible for an unmarried foreign national to apply successfully for a residence permit for his or her domestic partner in Shanghai unless the two of them have a child together. It should be noted that the Shanghai Public Security Bureau is not issuing the new S Family Visitor Visas to unmarried domestic partners. An ordinary tourist visa for an unmarried partner is still an option.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in China. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact