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CHINA | Hiring Foreigners

posted 1 year ago

By Roberto Gilardino

Employing foreign hires can be daunting and requires careful attention to relevant laws, rules, and regulations.

Additionally, local regulations can override national provisions, so it is important to understand obligations before any hiring is conducted.

In the below we take a closer look at the administrative steps to hire foreigners.   

Employment License

Before foreigners can be hired, employers shall obtain a license to employ foreigners. An Application Form for the Employment for Foreigners (‘Application Form’) with the following valid documents shall be submitted to the relevant industry supervisory department: resumes of the foreigners to be employed, letter of employment intent, explanation of the foreign employment, certificates validating the suitable qualification of the foreigner for their position of employment, health certificate of foreigner as well as other documents stipulated in laws and regulations.

Following the examination and approval of the relevant industry supervisory department, the employer must submit the Application Form to be approved by one of the following departments:

  • the labour administration department of the province:
  • autonomous region or directly administered municipality in which it is located; or
  • the prefectural or municipal-level labour administration department.

The application approval is dependent on two factors:

  • opinions of the relevant industry supervisory department; and
  • demand in the labour market

Upon approval, the relevant labour administration department shall specify the agency (the “issuing agency”) to issue the licence.

Employers who falsify, illegal change, falsely use, transfer, trade the Employment License or work permit shall be confiscated of illegal proceeds and a fine between ten thousand and one hundred thousand RMB shall be issued.

Special Provisions

Employers of central government-level or employers from industries which do not have a supervisory department shall directly submit the application to the issuing agency of the relevant labour administration department.

Foreign-funded joint ventures do not require the approval of their respective industry supervisory departments. Instead, they may apply directly to the issuing agency of the relevant labour administration department for the employment license by submitting the contract, articles of association, approval certificates, business licenses and those documents specified in items above.

Work Visa

Approved foreign hires shall apply for the work visa (Z) at the Chinese Embassies, Consulates or offices with permits issued by the Ministry of Labour with a valid passport or equivalent.  

Work Permits

Within 15 days of entering China, foreign hires shall sign the labour contract and employers shall obtain the work permit at the original certificate issuing agency.

Residence Permits

Once the work permit is obtained, the residence permit shall be applied at the public security authorities within 30 days after entering China with the work permit. The residence permit shall be valid for the same period as the work permit.

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If you have questions or concerns on employment law and related matters, please contact us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation session. We can provide insight, expertise and the right solutions for you.


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