What is the change? The Shenzhen Labor Bureau has launched an online system for work permit applications.

What does the change mean? While the online system speeds up the initial approval, employers are cautioned that the approval letter must be stamped by the employer and signed by the employee, which can delay the process.

  • Implementation time frame: The online portal launched June 3.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Companies applying for work permits for foreign employees in Shenzhen.
  • Impact on processing times: The online submission takes one day and an approval letter will typically be issued the following business day. However, the approval letter must be sent to the employer for a corporate stamp and employee signature, which can take several business days, depending on the company’s internal procedures. Once the completed approval letter is submitted to the Labor Bureau, the work permit is issued the same day.
  • Business impact: The online portal will streamline the submission of documents, but may not speed up the overall processing time for issuance of the work permit.

BAL Analysis: Applicants should note that despite the faster online submission of work permit applications in Shenzhen, the overall processing time may still take several business days, as it is dependent on how long it takes the employer to have the approval letter stamped and then signed by the employee. Companies that require several steps before stamping the approval letter – such as permission from a manager or human resources department – will see longer processing times that will impact the issue date of the work permit.

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

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