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back to index backGLOBALtalk March,  2015


China: New Procedures for Foreigners Entering China for Short-Term Assignments

Background

As per the new notice from Chinese Governments (Ministry of Human Resources and Social Securities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Culture), effective from January 1, 2015, a foreigner entering China for Short-Term Assignment (STA) must apply for necessary China working documents (e.g., Employment License, Employment Certificate, Z Visa, and/or residence permit). For any violation of the new policy, both the assignee and employers would be subject to punishment by the Public Security Bureau.

Definition of the STA

A foreigner entering China for STA refers to a foreigner who comes to China under the below circumstances and stays in China for no longer than 90 days, for the following activities:

- Certain technical, scientific research, management, or guidance work performed in China;
- Training at a sports institution in China;
- Film shooting;
- Fashion show;
- Engaging in commercial performance; and
- Other circumstances designated by the relevant human resource and social security department.

In this connection, the foreigner should obtain the Employment License, Employment Certificate, Z Visa, and/or residence permit to stay in China. However, if the assignment period is more than 90 days for each single stay, the foreigner should apply for work permit and residence permit.

Immigration Procedure

For STA, the new immigration procedure is as follows:

Step 1: Employment License and Employment Certificate application -- If the foreigner is invited by an entity or party in China for engaging in short-term work, the Chinese entity or party should sponsor with the working document application. If the foreigner enters China for STA in two or more provincial-level areas, the foreigner would apply for working documents at the place where the Chinese entity or party is located.
Step 2: Z Visa notification letter application
Step 3: Single-entry Z Visa application overseas
Step 4: When the foreigner comes to China for STA for not more than 30 days, he/she must leave China before Z Visa expires -- If the STA period is more than 30 days but less than 90 days, after the foreigner’s arrival to China, he/she should apply for the 90 days valid residence permit with work purpose.

Additional Notes

Below circumstances should not be regarded as a STA:

- Maintenance, installation, debugging, dismantlement, guidance, and training to support machinery or equipment purchased by the Chinese party;

- Providing guidance, supervision, or inspection over a bid-winning project in China;

- Being dispatched to a branch company, subsidiary company, or representative office in China for short-term assignment (under 90 days in a calendar year);

- Participating in a sports event;

- Entering China to engage in unpaid work or to serve as a voluntary worker or volunteer work whose salary is paid by an overseas institution; and

- The relevant competent culture department does not indicate the words foreign – related commercial performance” in the approval document. If a foreigner stays in China for not more than 90 days and meets the circumstances specified in items a, b, c, or d, he/she should apply for the M Visa, while F Visa should be applied to the items e or f. In situations where the foreigner falls under items a, b, c, or e and spends more than 90 days for each stay, he/she will be required to obtain the work permit and residence permit. If the foreigner obtains the Employment License and Employment Certificate, but he/she does not come to China due to assignment cancellation, the Chinese party shall report this to the relevant authority in writing.

When the foreigner comes to China for STA, the staying period of assignment in China should not exceed that indicated in the Employment Certificate and the Employment Certificate cannot be renewed.

For foreigner’s illegal employment, the penalty for the individual would be up to RMB 20,000 and/or detained between 5 to 15 days for the individual. For companies who illegally hire foreigners, the penalty may be up to RMB 100,000.

Deloitte’s view

- When foreigners come to China for STA, the individual should pay attention to this new STA immigration procedure. Most importantly, mutual agreement between overseas company and the cooperative party in China should be executed to ensure compliance with new STA rule.

- Since the validity of Employment Certificate and Z Visa is very short, it will be necessary for the visa holder to closely monitor their period of stay in China to ensure that the holder does not inadvertently overstay beyond the approved period. In this regard, Deloitte recommends that employers track and monitor STA immigration compliance very closely.

- Chinese Governments will further standardize the employment of foreigners in China. Detailed implementation rules of the new notice have not been released in writing by the Chinese authorities. It is highly recommended to keep a close watch on the development of this new policy and take necessary actions where appropriate.

Source: Deloitte - GAI




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