What is the change? Employees working for select foreign enterprises in the city of Beijing can now obtain three-year work permits.

What does the change mean? Employees who qualify will no longer need to apply annually to renew their work permits.

  • Implementation timeframe: The change took effect Dec. 25, 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits in Beijing.
  • Who is affected: Employees of select foreign business enterprises operating in Beijing, including wholly foreign-owned enterprises, branch offices of foreign companies, and ventures or cooperatives between Chinese and non-Chinese companies.
  • Impact on processing times: There is no significant impact on processing times.
  • Business impact: The change benefits businesses by allowing them to sponsor employees who can work for foreign enterprises for three years without having to renew their work permits.
  • Next steps: The three-year work permits became available Dec. 25, 2014.

Background: Beginning Dec. 25, 2014, authorities began issuing three-year work permits to employees at select foreign enterprises in Beijing. Before the change, the work permits were only valid for one year. The three-year work permits are available to employees working for wholly foreign-owned enterprises, branch offices of foreign companies and ventures or cooperatives between Chinese and non-Chinese companies in Beijing.

Documentation requirements are fairly stringent. In order to obtain a three-year work permit, an application must include an original contract, original passport and original business license (or business registration certificate). All supporting documents must have a validity period of at least three years, otherwise a three-year work permit will not be issued.

For now, there is no corresponding residence program. This means that even applicants who qualify for a three-year work permit can only obtain one-year residence visas, which must be renewed annually.

BAL Analysis: The new program makes it easier for foreign enterprises in Beijing to recruit and retain foreign employees because those employees can now obtain permits to work for three years rather than one. While there is no corresponding residence program, the new work permit system is nonetheless a boon for foreign enterprises covered by the program.

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

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