China Begins Issuing Work Visas Under New Law

Posted on Posted in China News

Select cities across China have already begun issuing work visas (work permits) under a new pilot program. The new policy change is expected to be rolled out nationwide in April 2017. So what exactly does this new work visa program entail? How will it affect foreigners who want to come and work in China? Will it affect foreigners already working in China? Let’s take a look.


In an effort to simplify and streamline the work visa process, and to attract more foreign talent, China’s immigration authorities are doing away with the “Alien Employment Permit” and the “Foreign Expert Certificate”, and instead will only issue one document from a single government department called the “Foreign Work Permit (FWP).” With this new system, all foreigners who apply to work in China must fall under one of the three new categories:


"A" Category
(top tier talent)
"B" Category
(foreign professionals)
"C" Category
(unskilled workers)
Have one of the following:

- Internationally recognized award(s) in your field

- Hold high-level positions in the field of technology, science, education, art, or related fields

- Been selected by the government’s recruitment program

- Recognized as an “innovated entrepreneur” by the government

- Recognized as an “outstanding young talent” by the government

- A combined visa score of >85
Have one of the following:

- Bachelor’s degree and two (2) years related working experience

- Graduate degree from any Chinese university or from one of the world’s top 100 universities

- A combined visa score of 60-85
Have one of the following:

- Authorization to work in a governmental department

- Authorization to work in a government-sponsored internship

- Authorization to work as household staff

- Authorization to work in seasonal positions

Note: “C” work permits are limited in number and are issued for shorter stay durations.

Visa score

You’ll notice the addition of the “visa score” with this new program. Your personal visa score is calculated based on a number of weighted criteria including expected annual income in China, expected employment period in China, highest degree of education, Mandarin proficiency (based on the HSK or college degree), related work experience, age, and others factors. This new point system will give more work opportunities to foreigners who may not have the related work experience, something that has tripped up many applications since the last visa change in 2015.


The main takeaway

Foreigners who apply for a Chinese work visa after April 1st, 2017 will automatically go through the new application process and will be evaluated by the above criteria. Foreigners already working in China with work permits expiring on or before the end of April can renew on the old system. After that, everyone will be on the new system.

GoGlobal Jobs has also learned that the new work permit will be issued in the form of an ID card, with the look and feel of a Chinese ID card (身份证). The ID cards will also be conveniently accepted across all government departments including customs, public security, foreign affairs, tax department, among others.

Applicants applying for the “Foreign Work Permit (FWP)” must first obtain the “Foreign Work License (FWL)”, which requires most of the same steps as before (see checklist below) and roughly 20 business days to receive.


FWL Checklist:

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of work experience (letter)
  • Applicant’s highest degree of education (legalized by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate)
  • Applicant’s police clearance
  • Health certificate
  • Employment contract
  • Other qualifications if you belong to the “A” category (note: applications for the “A” work permit can be done online and upon arrival in China)


Visa laws tend to change frequently in China, so it’s important to always stay up to date to avoid any legal issues. As always, GoGlobal Jobs is here to answer any questions you may have about China’s work visas, or any questions about teaching in China.



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