The following notice is an exhaustively detailed description of the process by which “foreign experts” receive permission to work in China. The document specifies precisely what qualifications China requires of foreign experts of different grades, and enumerates and provides samples of all of the paperwork prospective Chinese employers must file on behalf of foreign employees.
The Chinese source text is available online at: https://web.archive.org/web/20200522125211/http://rsj.guang-an.gov.cn/garsj/uploadfiles/2017102115181074.pdf
US $1 ≈ 7 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (RMB), as of July 30, 2020.
Document of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs
SAFEA Publication (2016) No. 151
Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs on the Publication of a Trial Implementation Proposal for a Work Permit System for Foreigners in China
To the administrations of foreign experts affairs of all provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, and sub-provincial cities; and to the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps:
Pursuant to the decision of the Office of the Reform Auditing Commission of the State Council (国务院审改办), the “Employment Permit for Foreigners” and the “Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China” are integrated into the “Work Permit for Foreigners.” The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) shall be responsible for organizing the implementation of the integration and the local people’s governments shall implement the integration in accordance with actual circumstances. In order to push forward the work of integrating the two permits, SAFEA decided to carry out pilot work for the new work permit system for foreigners, between October 2016 and March 2017, in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Ningxia. The “Trial Implementation Proposal for a Work Permit System for Foreigners in China” is hereby issued to all of you, and all provinces, regions and municipalities are requested to conscientiously do all the foundational and preparatory work properly before full implementation, and pilot regions are asked to do a solid job of organizing implementation.
Pilot Implementation Plan for the Work Permit System for Foreigners
In accordance with the spirit of the Notice of the State Council on Standardizing Administrative Examination and Approvals by Departments of the State Council to Improve Work Related to Administrative Approvals (2015 No. 6) and the Letter of Opinions on the Integration of a Work Permit for Foreigners by the Office for Administrative Examination and Approval System Reform under the State Council (2015 No. 95), and in order to further clarify work duties, reduce redundant examination and approval, avoid regulatory loopholes, and increase work efficiency, the former “Employment Permit for Foreigners” and “Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China” are integrated into the “Work Permit for Foreigners.” SAFEA shall be responsible for organizing implementation of the integration, and the local people’s governments shall implement the integration in accordance with actual circumstances. In accordance with the need to delegate power, combine decentralization and control, and optimize services, this pilot plan is formulated in order to do a better job of integrating the two permits, promote an innovative new government services model of “internet + government services,” and construct an online-offline integrated management services system for foreigners working in China.
I. Guiding Ideology
We shall comprehensively implement the spirit of the 18th CPC National Congress and its 3rd, 4th and 5th Plenums, deeply implement the spirit of the important series of speeches by General Secretary Xi Jinping, fully implement the spirit of the series of important speeches and instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping on the work of recruiting foreign talent and intellectuals, firmly establish the concept of innovation-based, coordinated, green, open and shared development, put into practice the strategic thinking of “gathering and using talents worldwide,” deepen reform of the systems and mechanisms for foreigners coming to work in China, uphold the principles of “overall planning and promotion, collaboration and sharing, convenience and efficiency, fairness and transparency,” implement a more proactive, open, and effective management system for foreigners coming to work in China, achieve an organic linking of work permits, visas, and residence permits for foreigners coming to work in China, and gradually form the advantages of a talent system with international competitiveness, so as to better serve implementation of major national strategies and economic and social development.
II. Work Objectives
We shall unify the management services system for work permits for foreigners, simplify application materials, optimize the examination and approval process, implement categorized management on a scientific basis, promote information interconnection and sharing, innovate in terms of interim and ex-post regulation, and improve regulatory effectiveness. We shall insist on the principle of “encouraging the high-end, controlling the average, and restricting the low-end,” form a foreigner work management system that has unified management, interconnection and sharing, coordinated supervision, participation by the public, and convenience and high efficiency, and raise the level of service management by making it more scientific, standardized, informatized (信息化), and internationalized.
III. Main Tasks
(I) Implement categorized management. We shall clearly define the classification criteria for foreigners working in China (Annex 1), establish a scientific and practical foreign talent assessment system, focusing on abilities, achievements, and contributions, highlight market-based approaches such as market-based evaluation and international peer-based evaluation, make integrated use of policy tools such as points-based systems, guidance catalogs, labor market testing and quota systems, and establish a dynamically adjusted, forward-moving evaluation system, so as to strengthen categorized management.
(II) Simplify and consolidate materials We shall uniformly standardize types and quantities of application materials, specifying the name, style, number of copies, etc., of the texts of materials. We shall simplify and consolidate application materials, except for personal passports and electronic photos, where it is typically necessary to submit a foreigner’s work permit application form, an employment contract or proof of employment, work qualification certificate, a medical certificate, certificate of no criminal record, a certificate of highest (academic) degree, a valid visa held by the applicant, etc., and reduce submission of materials such as application letters, permit application forms, originals or stubs of permits, CVs in Chinese and foreign languages, employment intention letters, etc.
(III) Unify management of certificates The former Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China and the Alien Employment License shall be unified as the Notification Letter of Work Permit for Foreigners, and electronic online printing shall be implemented. The former and the Foreign Expert Work Permit and Employment Permit for Foreigners shall be unified into the Work Permit for Foreigners, achieving one lifelong unchanging code per person and dynamically managed recording of the management, services, credit records and other circumstances of work in China.
(IV) Optimize the examination and approval process. Service guidelines shall be prepared (Annex 2), specifying the basis of establishment, application requirements, basic process, and time limit for examination and approval, and a “Service System for Foreigners Working in China” shall be constructed, putting into effect single-window, time-limited, standardized, and online processing, and using “information to do the work” to replace “personnel doing the work.”
(V) Open a “green channel” for high-end foreign talents. The honor system shall be adopted for the certificates of no criminal record for foreign high-end talents, without the need to submit hard copy materials for verification prior to entry; and we shall compress the time limits and raise administrative efficiency for work permit examination and approval. Fully online processing shall be implemented for foreign high-end talents selected for relevant domestic talent plans, and the honor system shall be implemented for their work qualifications, professional skills, and academic credentials.
(VI) Raise service levels and improve supervisory management. We shall innovate administrative methods for permit management, enhance big data uses in government service, achieve information system interconnection among departments for human resources and social security, foreign affairs, public security, etc., and achieve sharing of work permit, visa, and residence data; we shall strengthen interim and ex-post regulation, gradually improve the “two random, one open” work mechanism,1 establish a credit system for foreigners working in China and their employers, and achieve fine-tuned management, precise service, and accurate regulation.
IV. Implementation Steps
(I) Pilot preparation phase. Carry out survey research, organize a development system, design the examination and approval process, study categorized management methods, and formulate a pilot implementation plan. In early September, a seminar will be held in Tianjin on implementing the pilot work for the work permit system for foreigners, which will deploy the pilot work and interpret the pilot policy. By the end of September, training of relevant personnel will be organized, the various localities will prepare examination and approval rules, and properly carry out pre-pilot preparation work.
(II) Pilot phase. Between October 2016 and March 2017, carry out pilot work for the new work permit system for foreigners in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Ningxia. Strengthen coordination among relevant agencies to ensure a smooth transition in various tasks. Insist on being problem-oriented, promptly draw conclusions from pilots, and listen thoroughly to opinions and recommendations, so as to constantly improve related supporting policies. Beginning on October 1, pilot zones shall properly conduct employer training and propaganda work, and organize online account registration. Beginning on November 1, formally begin using the Notification Letter of Work Permit for Foreigners and the Work Permit for Foreigners. Existing Permits for Foreign Experts Working in China, Alien Employment Licenses, Foreign Expert Work Permits, and Employment Permits for Foreigners that are within their periods of validity will continue to be valid during the pilot period.
For applications for work permits for foreigners in non-pilot areas, execution shall be in accordance with existing regulations. At the same time, local areas shall also formulate “two-permit integration” work plans, actively borrow from the advanced experiences and approaches of Tianjin and other areas, strengthen capacities for unified management of foreigners working in China, and properly carry out the preliminary preparation work for full implementation of “two-permit integration.”
(III) Full implementation phase. On April 1, 2017, unified implementation of work permits for foreigners will be nationwide, the Notification Letter of Work Permit for Foreigners and Work Permit for Foreigners will be issued, and the Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China and Employment Permit for Foreigners will no longer be issued. Permits for Foreign Experts Working in China and Employment Permits for Foreigners that are within their valid periods will continue to be valid, and can be exchanged for the new certificates on a voluntary basis.
(I) Strengthen leadership, provide strong support. SAFEA shall establish a Work Permit for Foreigners Implementation Leadership Group with the General Director of SAFEA serving as the group leader. All provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities shall establish leadership groups, determine the institutions, personnel, management models, etc., for management of foreigners working in China while taking into account actual local conditions, reinforce staffing strength, and implement work responsibilities, so as to actively and steadily promote the implementation work for two-permit integration.
(II) Provide overall coordination, maintain steady order. Promote various tasks in an overall manner, take the initiative to enhance communication among departments for human resources and social security, foreign affairs, public security, etc., guarantee smooth connections among various segments, and coordinate promptly to resolve significant issues that arise in pilots, so as to ensure there is no confusion of ideas, dispersion of teams, or interruption of work.
(III) Strengthen guidance, supervise implementation. SAFEA shall strengthen guidance of local work, strengthen tracking of operational training to ascertain the progress of preparatory work in non-pilot areas and implementation circumstances in pilot areas, summarize good experiences and good approaches, publish Developments in the Work Permit System for Foreigners Pilots, form upward and downward linkages, and cooperate closely. The pilot areas shall conscientiously execute the pilot plan, and report significant issues to higher levels.
(IV) Focus on propaganda, create a good environment. Take the initiative to release authoritative information, respond to concerns in society, and guide society’s expectations. Strengthen interpretation and propaganda regarding policies on the management of foreigners working in China, promptly let employers and individuals understand the new policies and know about the new system, and create a good public opinion environment for pushing forward implementation of the work permit system for foreigners.
(V) Summarize experiences, innovate services. The pilot areas shall focus on summarizing experiences, explore boldly, innovate models for service management, and put forward suggestions for improvement of problems. Through piloting, they will promptly identify problems with respect to system construction, the examination and approval process, classification criteria, interim and ex-post regulation, credit management, and other key segments. SAFE will promptly assess the summarization of pilot work, so as to continuously improve the management services information system and policy system.
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- Translator’s note: “Two random, one open” (“双随机一公开”) applies to various oversight processes. It stands for: “Extract and inspect targets for inspection at random, assign law enforcement and inspection personnel to cases at random, and make the spot check process and the results of investigations open to the public in a timely fashion.”