China: New foreign employment management system to be implemented

China will merge its Foreign Work Permit and Expert Permit programs into a single Employment Permit scheme beginning in October.

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What does the change mean? Foreign nationals who previously would have applied for either a Foreign Work Permit or an Expert Permit will soon apply for the new Employment Permit. Applicants should expect the possibility of delays and changes in documentation requirements as the program is rolled out.

  • Implementation time frame: The program will launch Oct. 1 in nine pilot cities or provinces: Anhui, Beijing, Guangdong, Hebei, Ningxia, Shandong, Shanghai, Sichuan and Tianjin. Foreign nationals will have a one-month grace period when they will be able to apply for the current work permits before the new Employment Permits will be available Nov. 1. The program will be expanded nationwide in April 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: All foreign employment permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals seeking work authorization.
  • Business Impact: Businesses should be prepared for delays and increased documentation requests in the application process.

Background: Until now, separate government agencies have overseen the issuance of Foreign Work Permits and Expert Permits. The new system will centralize the management of foreign employment in China and allow for improved data sharing among authorities. The system will introduce new employment permit types – A, B and C– based on a scoring system that will consider, among other criteria, an applicant’s income, work experience, educational background, Chinese language skills, age and duration of stay. According to preliminary information, A type employment permits will be reserved for those with scores of 85 and over, B type permits for those with scores of 60-85, and C type permit for those with scores below 60. The government may alter application requirements among the different types of employment permits in order to encourage A type applicants, control the number of B type applicants and limit C type applicants.

BAL Analysis: The new system is designed to streamline the employment permit process in China, but may cause delays in the near term and could lead to different procedures or documentation requirements. Authorities are expected to issue more detailed regulations soon. BAL will continue to follow the rollout of the new program and will provide updates to clients as needed.

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

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