China: New Foreign Labor Regulations Sharpen Penalties for Illegal Employment of Expatriates - With Severe Personal Consequences for Offenders

In order to regulate and penalize illegal working relationships concerning foreigners more strictly, the National People's Congress approved the Exit and Entry Administration Law, which will come into effect on July 1, 2013.

The new regulations blend in an increasingly harsh approach towards illegal immigration, which recently culminated in Beijing's announcement of a three-month police campaign to uncover foreigners that do not possess a valid permit for residence or work in China. The campaign had been preceded by a somewhat public debate on foreign public misconduct and illegal foreign residents that do not contribute to the society in a positive way. Shanghai, considered to be as the most internationalized and foreign-friendly living environment by the majority of expatriates in China reportedly participated in the campaign with police spot-checks of passports and employment permits in popular nightlife districts patronized by foreigners. For companies employing expatriates as well as foreigners working in China it is therefore important to know what impact the new law will have on employment and residence. In the past, more than just a few foreigners and companies considered existing rules on residency and employment to be rather "suggestions" that sometimes may to be adjusted and stretched according to personal needs than binding laws. However, the new law contains punitive provisions of much more serious nature than mere monetary penalties. In the worst case scenario, a foreign employee could even be expelled and banned from entering China again for 10 years.

Key Points of the Law - What Expatriates and Employers Need to Know

Tightened Supervision of Foreign immigrants

With the new law, the government seeks to tackle non-compliance and tightens its grasp of control with several new measures in terms of residence registration and reporting duties:

  • For permanent residence applicants, it will become necessary to record biometric data such as fingerprints with the Public Security Bureau. But also persons entering or departing China may be required to provide biometric data, for example at the airport pass control, if additional regulations are promulgated in due time.
  • In terms of residence and work locations, the Public Security Bureau may restrict foreigners from residing or working in certain locations where conflicting national security interests. Foreigners who have already established residency or workplaces in such areas may be given notice to relocate.
  • Entities that employ foreigners must report relevant information on the employment to local Public Security Bureaus. Registered foreign students in China are not exempted from special rules governing employment, which will be issued by the Ministry of Education. It may be common for foreign students to work in part time jobs such as brand promotion or English teaching, but a breach of the rules could violate the rules for illegal employment, and thus entail legal consequences.
  • Citizens and legal persons that become aware of illegal employment relations and illegal residence are encouraged to report relevant clues to the authorities.
  • Work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum period of only 90 days (instead of 180 days) and a maximum of five years. Non-work-related residence certificates will remain to be valid for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of five years, respectively. Where foreigners wish to extend a visa with a maximum stay of 180 days, the application should be filed seven days prior to the date of expiration, and the length of extension should not exceed the originally permitted duration.

Increasingly Severe Punishments for Non-Compliance

The legal stipulations send out a signal that the government is determined to bear down on individuals and companies who do not play by the rules with more severe and deterrent legal consequences and greatly increased penalties. In the end it remains to be seen whether the upper limits of the fines and sharper measures will be made use of on a frequent basis.

  • For each illegally employed foreigner, the employer will be fined CNY 10,000, and monetary gains from the employment will be confiscated. The maximum fine for companies who illegally employ foreigners is doubled from CNY 50,000 to CNY 100,000.
  • The new law explicitly states that expatriates are obliged to obtain the necessary employment documents. Illegally working foreigners could now be fined between CNY 5,000 and CNY 20,000, as opposed to a low former penalty of only CNY 1,000. In serious cases, foreigners may face detention.
  • Under the new law, stay without a valid visa is now subject to fines up to CNY 10,000, and detention for 5 to 15 days. However, illegally staying foreigners will be given a warning before being fined.
  • The most severe consequence foreigners should be aware of is the possibility of deportation. Where foreigners are found guilty of illegal immigration, residence or employment, they may not only be deported from the country, but additionally be banned from entering China for five years. Foreigners who violate Chinese laws can be requested to depart within a specified deadline, but severe (non-criminal) violations may even result in forced deportation, and such individuals may not be allowed to enter China again for a 10-year period. According to the law, assistance in illegal acts is also punishable.

New Visas, New Entry Facilitations

Despite the harsher punitive provisions in the law, another part also aims to make entry procedures for certain groups more convenient.

  • Together with the new law, a new visa category is introduced which caters especially to foreign high potentials. The new "talent visa" is designated for foreigners with certain skills in demand to support the development of the country. However, further details regarding the "talents" will have to be set by the government.
  • In addition, foreigners who make "outstanding contributions" to the nation or meet other requirements as determined by regulations may be rewarded with a "green card" for permanent residence, according to the new law.
  • For the first time, China incorporates provisions in domestic law reflecting its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. Under the new law. Refugees are allowed to stay in China after obtaining a temporary ID card and while their refugee status is under examination.


The new law proves the Chinese government's intention to screen foreign workers in the country more carefully, and to punish those who fail to comply with legal stipulations. Expatriates and their employers are advised to pay attention to the rules, as a break of the law may result in consequences even more severe than the increased monetary penalties, such as detention, deportation, or ultimately even a ban on entering China again for many years. On the other hand, foreign high potentials that are eligible to apply for the "talent visa" may benefit from facilitated rules to obtain visa and residence permits when the conditions are further described in additional provisions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions