IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? After a highly-publicized case of a foreign teacher accused of sexually assaulting students, Hangzhou has become the second city to require foreign applicants to submit a Non-Criminal Certificate for work permits, expert permits and employment licenses.

What does the change mean? The change adds another document-gathering challenge for foreign nationals, and may be a particularly onerous and time-consuming step for those already living in China.

  • Implementation timeframe: Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, expert permits, employment licenses.
  • Who is affected: Those applying for new and renewal permits and employment licenses.
  • Impact on processing times: No impact on Chinese government processing times; however, the overall time required to prepare the application may significantly increase.
  • Next steps: Employers and applicants should plan for up to an additional six weeks, depending on the specific police department providing the certificate and Chinese consulate completing the legalization. It may take longer for expatriates living in China who must get the document from their home country.

Background: As of Nov. 15, the Hangzhou Labor Department will require foreign nationals to submit a Non-Criminal Certificate for all applications for new and renewal work permits, employment licenses and expert licenses. This includes workers in China who change employers.

The change in policy comes on the heels of a high-profile case in which an American teacher was accused of molesting six children at an elite French school in Shanghai. Outraged parents demanded greater scrutiny of workers’ criminal backgrounds. Hangzhou is the second city to require foreign workers to prove they have a clean criminal history. The Beijing Labor Department was the first to adopt the rule in July.

Applicants must get this document in their home country from their local or federal police department, depending on where they live. The Non-Criminal Certificate must then be legalized by the Chinese consulate that has jurisdiction over the employee’s place of residence.

BAL analysis: The rule in Hangzhou will add another step that employers and workers should calculate into overall processing times. Now that two cities have adopted this additional requirement, which is also under consideration in Shanghai, more cities throughout China will likely follow in the coming year.

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

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