August 15, 2011

The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) issued an official announcement that on and after August 1, 2011, the Guangzhou Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (BFTC) will no longer issue “Z” visa invitation letters for dependents accompanying work permit applicants working in Guangzhou.  As the BFTC will no longer issue “Z” invitation letters to accompanying dependents, the PSB has abolished, except in limited situations, the ability for accompanying dependents to obtain long-term residence permits.  As a result, accompanying dependents will be limited applying for Tourist visas (“L”) visas for the duration of the work permit holder’s assignment in Guangzhou.

Dependents Must Apply for “L” Visas

Prior to the August 1 announcement, Chinese host companies based in Guangzhou would apply for an employment license to sponsor a foreign national worker. Once the employment license was approved, host companies would prepare a visa authorization request to the Guangzhou BFTC to issue a single-entry visa (“Z” visa) to the assignee and qualified dependents (spouse and children) to enter China and regularize status in Guangzhou.  As noted above, after August 1, only in very limited circumstances will “Z” visa invitation letters be issued by the BFTC.   Dependents who now wish to join a Guangzhou-based assignee can only apply for an “L” visa with the Chinese consular post in their home country.

Clients are advised that dependents applying for “L” visas will receive visas based on the dependent’s nationality and the country of application.  For example, US-national dependents can apply for 12-month “L” visas valid for multiple-entries up to 90 day stays, per entry.  For dependents who wish to remain in China beyond the initial stay, extension of “L” visas can be filed with the Guangzhou PSB up to three times in a 12-month period.  Extensions of stay may range from a few days up to 30 days, depending on the nationality of the dependent and the circumstances for extension.  Dependents departing China after expiration of their existing “L” visas must apply for fresh “L” visas at a Chinese consular post.  Dependents are advised that application for successive “L” visas will be at the discretion of the Chinese consulate.

Cancellation of Existing Residence Permits

For those work permit holders who have already filed for “Z” visa invitation letters for dependents, the BFTC should grant the “Z” visa invitation letters on behalf of the assignee and dependents. Please note that most dependents should be granted one-year residence permits. However, the Guangzhou PSB has indicated that dependents who are to be granted residence permits or current residence permit holders will not be renewed by the PSB.  Upon expiration of a dependent’s residence permit, dependents must apply for a single-entry “L” visa to depart China.  If dependents wish to return to China to visit the assignee, dependents must apply for a fresh “L” visa at the appropriate Chinese consular post.  (Note: Certain nationals may be eligible to depart mainland China and apply for fresh “L” visas at the China Commissioner’s Office in Hong Kong or Macau. These are special applications will require review by a Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist to confirm ability to file in Hong Kong or Macau).

Special Circumstances for Issuing Dependent Residence Permits 

After August 1st, the Guangzhou PSB has advised that only in very specific cases can dependents apply to receive “Z” visa invitation letters to apply for residence permits.  These will be very discretionary applications.  One possible circumstance is dependents accompanying an assignee working for a Guangzhou-based Representative Office andthe assignee and dependents reside in a country that does not maintain a Chinese consular post.

Client Advisory 

The Guangzhou PSB’s recent announcement will impact those assignees whose Chinese company sponsors have an employment license application underway for an assignee wishing to bring family members or assignees with families already resident in Guangzhou.  Clients are advised to review with Guangzhou-based assignees the possibility that family members will not be granted dependent residence permits, thereby creating a “split-family” assignment.  For those dependents with residence permits, or are to be granted a residence permit, clients are advised to review with these families preparing for cancellation upon expiration of dependent residence permits. Pro-Link GLOBAL’s immigration specialists can review the appropriate protocols for cancellation as well as obtaining fresh “L” visas. In addition, our immigration specialist can also assess possible alternatives for assigning Guangzhou-based workers to company locations in China.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.