What is the change? The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce is requiring that employers fulfill an additional step in the application for an invitation letter that is a prerequisite for Z employment visas.

What does the change mean? Companies registered in Shanghai’s Puxi area must physically submit documentation supporting the invitation letter application and obtain the commission’s verification before issuance of the letter of invitation. The additional verification takes an extra three to five working days.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Letters of invitation.
  • Who is affected: Shanghai companies registered in Puxi. Those registered in Pudong are not affected by the change.
  • Impact on processing times: With the additional step taking three to five business days, the application process for the invitation letter now takes approximately eight to 10 business days.
  • Business impact: The new rule adds time and an administrative burden, as an additional verification step is required.
  • Next steps: Affected companiesshould plan for the additional procedures and prepare to physically submit documents to the commission for verification. BAL can assist in the process.

Background: Chinese entities sponsoring foreign nationals for Z work visas must apply for an official letter of invitation from the appropriate authorities. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce has implemented a new process whereby companies must bring all supporting documents to be verified before the commission issues the letter of invitation.

BAL Analysis: Companies registered in Puxi should prepare for the additional steps and longer overall processing timelines for work permits. Companies registered in Pudong are not affected and should continue to apply for their invitation letters at the Foreign Affairs Office.

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

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