New Work Permit System in China

Here’s what you need to know about the new work permit system.

Quick background

The Chinese authorities started to inform about upcoming changes within the work permit system in June and July 2016.  The largest changes will be seen in the structure of evaluating and classifying foreign labor. However, many details of the reform are still pending.


The four major changes to the Chinese Work Permit system

  1. New classification according to talent points.

All new foreign work permit applications will be strictly evaluated and classified according to a system of talent points. Practically, this means all applications will be divided into one of three types, according to what talent points (between 0 and 100) the applicant achieves:


  • Type A: High Level, >85 talent points

This type will be awarded to experts, general managers of a company, experienced engineers and unique talents.

  • Type B: Common Talent, 60-85 talents points.

This type will be awarded to regular managers, senior managers and other regular positions within companies.

  • Type C: Low Level, <59 talent points.

This type will be given to applications for basic jobs that require no previous work experience or university degrees.


The Chinese government will give preference to Type A talent, while restricting the volume of Type C.


  1. One government authority will handle all work permit applications

Previously different authorities – such as the Labor Bureau and the Expert Bureau – evaluated the permit applications based on whether the applicant was a student, teacher, company employee etc.. After the change, all applications will be handled by the Expert Bureau.


  1. Work permit card instead of a license

A foreign work permit card will replace the Expert License and Alien Employment License.


  1. Internship Visa

The new system allows an Internship Visa, which will allow applicants to apply for internship positions without the requirement of previous work experience.  This Visa is currently only open for French citizens, however more countries will most likely be added in the future.


Who will be affected by the changes?

The new system applies to all companies looking to employ foreign labor in China.


Will this changes affect assignees currently on assignment in China?

The new system will not affect any current work permits or renewals, it only applies to new applications.All applications submitted before November 1 2016 will be evaluated according to the previous rules.


When will the changes be effective – and where?

The new work permit system was first introduced in Shanghai on Nov 1st, 2016. After that, it will be rolled out in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan and Ningxia province on April 1st, 2017.


How should companies prepare?

Talk to your local experts and consultants to stay updated. There are still many aspects of the practical implementation of the reform that are pending.


Where can you find more information?

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the immigration reform. We will be happy to assist you.



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