September 29, 2012

The Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau, who regulate the receipt of all Work permit applications, have confirmed that the policy they announced on August 30th 2012 is now fully implemented. This policy refers to the requirement that all work permit applications must be filed on or after the proposed start date provided in the beneficiary’s employment contract or assignment letter. Any applications that are filed before the proposed start date will be rejected. It is important to note, that this policy has been in practice in most cities of China, prior to August 30th 2012.

Previously, the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau allowed employers to file work permit applications up to one month before the start date proposed in the employment contract or assignment letter. The change in policy follows the observation of the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau that allowing the work permit applications to be filed prior to the proposed start date in their assignment letters, resulted in foreign nationals obtaining work permits well in advance of their proposed start dates.

Foreign beneficiaries may not work while a permit application is pending. They are permitted to perform appropriate business activities only. Work permit applications take approximately three to five business days to process in most principal cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, etc.; however the application process may be expedited if substantiated by urgent business needs.

What This Means for Employers

Employers must ensure that beneficiaries of work permit applications limit their activities to allowable business activities until a work permit is granted. Employers will also have to consider the policy change when determining when to place a foreign employee on Chinese payroll and for other relocation logistics. While the employment contract or assignment letter can provide a proposed start date, the official startdate will be the actual date that the Bureau issues the work permit.

The policy change also means that employers will have to formally enter into the employment contract or assignment letter with the beneficiary before they can file the work permit application. In the past, companies may have avoided entering into the employment contract or assignment letter until close to the actual start date. Chinese immigration regulations allow employers to enter into an employment contract at any time after they receive their employment license (the first step of the work permit process), though foreign national employees cannot start work until the work permit is issued.

Authored by Daisy Feng, Manager Client Services, Pro-Link GLOBAL 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. This alert was provided to you The Pro-Link GLOBAL Group.