What is the change? Effective immediately, employees applying for Z work visas no longer need an invitation letter from Chinese authorities in order to apply at a Chinese embassy or consulate.  

What does the change mean? The removal of this step should help shorten the preapproval stage, which can take around three months.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Z work visas.
  • Who is affected: Companies sponsoring foreign nationals for Z work visas.  
  • Impact on processing times: Overall document preparation timelines should improve by about one week, as the normal processing time for invitation letters was five business days.
  • Business impact: Work visa applicants will no longer need to wait for Chinese authorities to issue an invitation letter.

Background: Previously, foreign employees were required to apply for a Notification Letter of a Foreigner’s Work Permit (Alien/Expert Employment License) from the Chinese labor bureau and then apply for an invitation letter from Chinese authorities. Under the new policy, they still must obtain the notification letter but will no longer need to apply for an invitation letter before submitting their visa application.

BAL Analysis: China continues to introduce policies that streamline processes and create uniformity among jurisdictions as it rolls out the new work authorization procedures and online management system. The elimination of the invitation letter requirement is a welcome step that should reduce some of the administrative burden in obtaining preapproval of work visas.

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

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