China: Work And Resident Permits For Short-Term Working Foreigners

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Culture jointly issued a notice of the Relevant Handling Procedures for Foreigners Entering China for the Accomplishment of Short-term Work Assignments (the "Notice") on November 6th, 2014 and this Notice became effective on January 1st, 2015.

Before issuance of this Notice, foreigners who engage in short-term work for shorter than three months are not requested to obtain work and resident permits in China, but the Notice changes the casual situation. Based on this Notice, the following issues need to be concerned:

A.  Definition of Short-Term Work Assignment

According to the Notice, short-term work assignment refers to a foreigner who enters China for the following purposes and stays in China for not more than 90 days:

  1. Visiting the partner in China to complete certain technical, scientific research, management or guidance work;
  2. Conducting training (including coach and athlete) in a sports agency in China;
  3. Shooting films (including advertising films and documentary films);
  4. Fashion show (including car model, shooting advertising photos, etc.);
  5. Engaged in foreign-related commercial performances; and
  6. Other circumstances identified by the department of human resources and social security.

B.  Staying in China for More Than Ninety Days

If a foreigner stays in China for more than ninety days for the short-term work assignment or for any of the following purposes, work and resident permits with at least one-year validity term need to be applied for in accordance with the Provisions on the Administration of Employment of Foreigners in China:

  1. Purchasing supporting maintenance, installation, commissioning, demolition, guidance and training for machinery equipment;
  2. Conducting guidance, supervision or inspection for projects awarded in China;
  3. Being sent to a branch, subsidiary or representative office in China to complete short-term work assignment; and
  4. Entering China to engage in unpaid work or work as volunteer paid by overseas organizations.

C.  Staying in China for Less Than Ninety Days

1. There are the following two scenarios for foreigners accomplishing short-term work assignments based on the period that they will stay in China:

(a) For Less Than Thirty Days: Z visa is required and in which bilateral remarks of "allowed to work only within the period of time indicated in the Work Permit" shall be indicated; and

(b)  For More Than Thirty Days: Resident Permit is required to be applied for within thirty days since the date when the foreigner enters China with Z visa.

2.  M visa shall be applied for if foreigner stays in China for any of the following purposes:

(a)  Purchasing supporting maintenance, installation, commissioning, demolition, guidance and training for machinery equipment;

(b)  Conducting guidance, supervision or inspection for projects awarded in China;

(c)  Being sent to a branch, subsidiary or representative office in China to complete short-term work assignment; and

(d)  Participating in a sports event in China (including athlete, coach, team doctor, assistant and other relevant persons, but not including circumstances under which the participation is according to the requirements of international sports organizations, upon approval of China's competent authorities, or with a registration card).

3.  F visa shall be applied for if foreigner stays in China for any of the following purposes:

(a)  Entering China to engage in unpaid work or work as volunteer paid by overseas organizations; and

(b)  Without "foreign-related commercial performances" indicated in the approval document issued by the competent culture administration department.

 D.  Approval Authorities Involved and Respective Approvals Issued

  1. Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (i.e. Labor Bureau)This government agency is responsible for issuance of Work Permit and Work Permission Certificate for foreigners who engage in the defined short-term work assignments but excluding film shooting and related work, fashion show and all kinds of foreign-related commercial performances. Chinese domestic partner needs to apply for the Work Permit and the Work Permission Certificate for the foreigners at the human resources and social security bureau located in its registration place.
  2. Cultural DepartmentThis government agency is the one paralleled to the human resources and social security bureau and it is responsible for the issuance of the Work Permit and the Approval for foreigners who enter China for the purposes of film shooting and related, fashion show and commercial performances. The performance hosting entity needs to apply for the approval document indicated with "foreign-related commercial performance" and the Work Permit for the foreigners with the competent culture department in the place where the first performance is given.
  3. Foreign Affairs Department of the People's GovernmentThe Chinese partner and the performance hosting entity need to apply for the Invitation Letter/Confirmation Letter of Invitation for foreigners with the provincial leveled foreign affairs department of the people's government in the place where it is registered or where the first performance will be given.
  4. Chinese EmbassyForeigners who will enter China need to apply for Z visa with Chinese Embassy after obtaining the Work Permit, Work Permission Certificate/Approval Document and the Invitation Letter/Confirmation Letter of Invitation but before entering China.
  5. Public Security BureauForeigners who will enter China for short-term work assignment and whose work duration is more than thirty days need to apply for a ninety days' residence permit with the Public Security Bureau located in the registration place of the Chinese partner or located in the first performance place.

 E.  Other Issues to Be Concerned

  1. The domestic partner and the performance hosting entity need to report to the competent human resources and social security bureau and the culture department in respective in a timely manner if the work assignment is cancelled and the foreigner won't enter China.
  2. The work duration of the foreigner cannot exceed the period given in the Work Permit and the Work Permit cannot be extended after expiration, which means a new Work Permit needs to be applied.

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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