What is the change? New work authorization procedures took effect Nov. 1 in 10 pilot cities and provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Ningxia, Shandong, Sichuan and Yunnan. The changes will be implemented nationwide in April 2017.

What does the change mean? The procedures will unify the work authorization process into one employment permit. Work permits will be classified into three types (A,B and C), and an online management system will be introduced to promote information-sharing.

  • Implementation time frame: The pilot program began Nov. 1 and will be rolled out nationwide in April.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers sponsoring foreign nationals for work authorization in the 10 designated areas.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times will be longer because legalizations will be required for degrees, police clearances, medical reports, marriage and birth certificates and other documents.
  • Business impact: Employers should anticipate new procedures and factor in additional time needed to obtain legalization of documents.

Background: China is introducing a new foreign employment management system that merges work authorization into a single employment permit scheme. Applicants will be scored based on their annual salary, education, working duration, Mandarin language level, work location, age and other factors such as working in remote areas.

Three new categories and eligible applicants are:

Category A – High-level Foreign Experts in science, hi-tech and special talent:

  • Individuals selected for the China talent program.
  • Individuals who have received internationally recognized awards.
  • Market-demand talent encouraged by the Chinese government.
  • Entrepreneurs on innovative projects.
  • Youth talent.
  • Score higher than 85.

Category B – Market-Demand Talents:

  • Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least two years of related work experience.
  • Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from a university in mainland China.
  • Individuals with a master’s degree or higher from an international top 100 university.
  • Foreign language teachers in China.
  • Score higher than 60.

Category C – Temporary/service market foreign employees:

  • Foreign workers for government projects in China.
  • Interns based on a government agreement.
  • Foreign helpers coming to China to work for a High-Level Foreign Expert.
  • Foreign nationals working in offshore fishing or other special areas.
  • Some seasonal workers.
  • Others.
  • No minimum score required.

B·A·L Analysis: Companies applying for foreign employees in one of the pilot regions should prepare for additional processing and document preparation time.

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

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