China: New Regulations on Alien’s Residence, Work, and Study in PRC

Last Updated: 24 September 2013
Article by Jiang Junlu and Jin Shan

Benjamin, an American electronic engineer, holds dual Ph.D.s and has rich experience in the high-tech electronic engineering industry. He recently accepted a job offer from a large well-known Chinese enterprise and started to consider living in China with his wife Rose and 19-year-old son Frank. Benjamin hopes Rose will enjoy life in China, and find a job as well. Frank wants to attend a top Chinese university to study oriental culture and takes part-time jobs during the summer and winter breaks in order to enrich his social experience. Now, the Benjamin family comes to us with their questions about acquiring a visa to China.

On July 1st, 2013, the PRC Exit-Entry Administrative Law (the "Exit-Entry Administrative Law") came into force. Its supporting regulation, the PRC Administrative Regulation of Entry and Exit of Aliens (the "Administrative Regulation") will take effect on September 1, 2013.

  1. Key Points of Exit and Entry Administrative Law

The Exit-Entry Administrative Law adds a new R type of visa as an ordinary visa in line with the "talents introduction" national policy. The R visa will be issued to high-level foreign talents and specialized talents sought by China in urgent matters. Therefore, in addition to a work visa (Z visa), Benjamin may qualify for the new R visa to enter and work in China. To obtain an R visa, Benjamin will have to submit the supporting documents required by the government's high-level foreign talents' attraction policy.

Unlike the old regulations 1, the Exit-Entry Administrative Law clarifies six circumstances when a Chinese visa will not be issued to a foreigner, including: (1) those who have been deported due to a criminal sentence or repatriation when the prohibition period of re-entry has not expired; (2) those with a serious mental disorder, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis or any other infectious disease that may seriously damage public health; (3) those who may imperil the national security and interests of China, disrupt public order, or commit other violations of law or criminal offences; (4) those who commit fraud when applying for a visa or who cannot show they have sufficient funds to cover all the necessary expenses for their stay in China; (5) those who fail to present relevant documents required by the visa issuer; or (6) other circumstances as set out. The Exit-Entry Administrative Law also provides circumstances under which a residence permit will not be issued.

The Exit-Entry Administrative Law emphasizes several circumstances under which a foreigner will be regarded as an illegal worker in China: (1) those who work in China without obtaining a work permit and a work-related residence permit as required; (2) those who work in China beyond the authorized scope prescribed on the work permit;(3) those foreign students who violate administrative regulations of off-campus work by working in China beyond the authorized scope of their job position or duration. Hence, Benjamin, as a foreign worker, must obtain the relevant work permit and residence permit to work in China and avoid punitive measures as a result of unlawful employment under PRC laws.

The Exit-Entry Administrative Law further adjusts the validity period of residence permits. For example, a non-work-related residence permit and work-related residence permit will be valid for at least 180 days and 90 days respectively; and at most five 5 years for both.

  1. Key Points of the Administrative Regulation

The Administrative Regulation expands the category of ordinary visas from 8 types to 12 types. Each visa name comes from the initial letter of the Chinese Pinyin of the Mandarin characters for the subject matter of each type of visa. The original 8 types of ordinary visa first prescribed under the old regulation 2 are: D (settlement), Z (employment), X (study), F (visiting), L (traveling), G (border crossing), C (crew members), and J (journalist). The Administrative Regulation adds another 4 types: M (commerce), Q (relatives), R (talents), and S (personal affairs). The Administrative Regulation also narrows the scope of the original F, X, and Z visas.

Thus, Benjamin's wife Rose will no longer apply for a Z visa. Instead, she needs to apply for the new S visa to enter China. As for Frank, if he comes to China only to visit parents, he can apply for an S visa. Alternatively, if Frank studies at a Chinese university, he can apply for an X1 visa for long-term study or an X2 visa for short-term study.

The new Administrative Regulation legalizes international students' off-campus work or internships in China. When a foreign student who holds a residence permit for study works or interns off-campus, upon obtaining consent from his/her school, he/she must apply to the entry-exit administration of a competent public security authority. The entry-exit administration must endorse the place and period of the work or internship on the student's residence permit. A foreign student who fails to obtain this endorsement may not take a part-time job or internship outside of campus. Thus, if Frank would like to find an off-campus internship during his winter and summer breaks, he should complete the above procedures. Otherwise, his internship will be deemed illegal employment and he will be punished.

Compared with the old regulations, the two new laws provide new content and state new issues the old regulations never addressed. The new laws provide clearer directions to foreigners about their residence, work and study in China. We wish the Benjamin family a wonderful life, work and study in China!


1The PRC Aliens' Enter-Exit Administrative Law and PRC Citizens' Exit-Entry Administrative Law were repealed on July 1, 2013. The PRC Implementation Rules of Alien's Entry-Exit Administrative Law will be repealed as of September 1, 2013.

2See footnote 1.

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.

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