September 10, 2010

There have been several changes in the last week or so to Chinese immigration rules.  Perhaps the change with the biggest impact is that some foreign national assignees going to Shanghai may now change status to work permit holder after arriving on a business or tourist visa.  This Global BRIEF also looks at recent delays in Beijing, as well as a new requirement for invitation letters at the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles.

Change of Status in Shanghai

The Shanghai Labor Bureau has announced that assignees who work in the Regional Headquarters of Multi National Corporations (MNCs) in Shanghai may now enter China with an F (business) or L (tourist) visa in order to apply for the work permit.  Entry on a Z visa is no longer a requirement.  This is good news, as such applications will allow for earlier entry to China.  Approximately 1-2 weeks’ lead time will be saved overall.

It is important to note that this change is applicable only to Regional Headquarters, and that the Regional Headquarter approval certificate issued by the Shanghai Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission will be required in order to make the residence permit application.

New Requirements in Shanghai 

A new requirement for additional supporting documents has been introduced – a Commission Form (application form) and a Commission Letter (application covering letter).  Pro-Link GLOBAL will, of course, provide the necessary templates to all our clients. 

Exit Formalities in Shanghai 

The Labor Bureau has announced that cancellation of work permits should be completed within ten calendar days of the end of employment.  Applications for work permit cancellation submitted after this time will not be accepted.  The cancellation form must clearly state the reasons for the work permit cancellation (termination of contract, where the work permit expiry date conicides with the end of employment, or release of contract, where the work permit has not yet expired but the employment contract has been ended).

F Visa Invitation Letters in Los Angeles 

The Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles announced this week that all business visa applications must have a business cover letter from the U.S. company and a letter of invitation from the company in China.  The letter of invitation from China may be the official government issued invitation or a letter from the Chinese company stamped (“chopped”) with the company seal.  Note, however, that for French national applicants, both the government letter and the company chopped letter will be required. 

Delays in Beijing 

Beijing’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) is currently conducting additional security investigations into all applications.  This is extending processing time to at least 11 working days, during which time applicants must remain physically in Beijing.  Applications affected include residence permit applications, residence permit renewals, change of sponsorship, cancellations of permits and L (tourist) and F (business) visa extensions.

Upcoming China Holidays 

Finally, please note that most China government offices will be closed from 22 -24 September 2010 for the Mid-Autumn Festival and from 1 – 7 October 2010 for China’s National Day Holiday.


No specific action is required at this time, but note the following:

  1. For some assignees to MNCs in Shanghai, entry on an F or L visa and conversion to residence permit may now be possible;
  2. PSB applications in Beijing are taking at least 11 working days, during which time the applicant must remain physically in China;
  3. All F Visa applications made at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles must be supported by an invitation letter from China.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG|KGNM correspondent office in P.R. China to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.