China will be implementing a more ‘proactive, open and effective’ policy to attract overseas expertise. Through this new policy, it will hopefully become easier for foreigners to start working here legally.

Photo Credit: Design Helm, Los Angeles

Permits and certificates required to work in China

According to the Exit and Entry Administration Law of China:

Foreigners who work in China must obtain a work permit and a work-type residence permit in accordance with relevant regulations. No entities or individual shall employ foreigners who don’t have these two documents.


  • Apply online from outside China for a Foreigner’s Work Permit Notice
  • Apply for a Z or R visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate
  • Apply for the Foreigner’s Work Permit at a foreigner work management department
  • Apply for work-type residence permits at a public security department


Do you meet the basic requirements to work in China?

Employers Must:

  • Be legally established, without record of severe illegal behavior or lack of credit
  • Employ foreigners for specialised posts that comply with national regulations, where no suitable Chinese candidates are available
  • Pay foreigners at no less than local minimum wage standards
  • Obtain approval needed by industrial management departments according to laws and regulations

Applicants Must:

  • Be aged over 18, be in good health, have no criminal record, have a definite employer in China, and have necessary professional skills and knowledge
  • Apply for positions that are much needed in China and facilitate China’s economic development
  • Comply with laws or regulations covering foreigners’ work in China

Applying for a Foreigner’s Work Permit

The State Council Leading Group for the Reform of Administrative Examination and Approval System (SAFEA) is in charge of implementing the new Foreigner’s Work Permit system, officially implemented on April 1, 2017:

Foreign Expert Work Permit + Foreigner Employment Permit = Foreigner’s Work Permit


Only 7 items are needed for application:

  1. Application form for Foreigner’s Work Permit
  2. Job qualification certificate
  3. Medical certificate (except for foreigners who already have a valid residence permit)
  4. Employment contract, employment certificate, or government authorisation letter
  5. Passport, visa or valid residence permit
  6. Certificate (diploma) of highest academic degree or relevant vocational qualification certificate
  7. Non-criminal record certificate

Note: Application materials also need ‘visas’

According to international practices, some of the application materials, including academic degree diplomas or vocational qualification certificates, and non-criminal record certificates, must have consular authentication.

‘Green Channel’ for ‘High-End Foreign Talents’

High-end foreign talents include scientists, leading sci & tech professionals, international entrepreneurs, and talents who meet the score assessment standards. For these individuals, the ‘green channel’ can simplify and streamline the application process further.

Green channel procedures include:

  1. Online application, paper material verification not needed if already recruited by relevant national talent programs
  2. Requiring only an applicant’s commitment regarding a non-criminal record certificate, only certain applicants may proceed on a personal confirmation basis in regards to their highest academic degree diplomas, or any other professional qualifications. Others may be required to provide supporting documents.

Other green channel points of note:

  • High-end talents (type A) with other types of visa or valid residence permits already in China may apply for a Foreigner’s Work Permit directly
  • Processing time of application, extension or cancellation of a Foreigner’s Work Permit is reduced to 5 work days
  • May apply for a Foreigner’s Work Permit with a valid period of a maximum of 5 years
Author: CDExpat_Jamie

CDIS China Chengdu