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Q. To work legally in Mainland China, where should I begin?

You are required to obtain both Work Permit as well as Residence Permit for Work prior to embarking on legal employment.

Click here to learn more about Work Permit System.

Q. Who qualifies to Work in Mainland China?

A candidate must be:

1. 18+ years of age
2. Mentally, Physically Healthy
3. No criminal records
4. Classified into Category A, B or C described in "the Evaluation Criteria for Foreigners Employed in China".

Q. How to obtain Work Permit and Residence Permit to work legally in Mainland China?

If you are already in Mainland China legally and would like to obtain Work Permit as well Residence Permit for Work, below are the steps to undertake:

1. Find an employer or start your company;
2. Sign a labor contract with your employer or the company you established;
3. Prepare application documents for Work Permit (even if you have a company);
4. Submit required documents online;
5. Visit Examination Authority Office with your original  application documents;
6. Work Permit card will be issued usually after 10 business days if unless there are any issues found;
7. Apply for Residence Permit for Work;
8. Residence Permit for Work will be issued usually after 8 business days unless there are issues found.

Q. Can I apply for Residence Permit if I entered Mainland China through visa-free system?

Currently, there is not such alternative, you must have a valid visa.

Q. I am not in China at present, but I want to work in China. What should I do?

You can try one of the followings:

1. Enter Mainland China with a valid visa, find an employer, get Work Permit card and submit application for Residence Permit for Work before your visa expires.

2. Find your employer before you enter, apply for Z visa outside Mainland China with Notice of Work Permit for Foreigners etc., then apply for Residence Permit for Work within 30 days from your entry, and apply for Work Permit.

Q. Can I keep my working visa until it expires after quit and cancel my Work Permit?

Not anymore.

In the past, some expats did this and were not punished for such a violation, but recently Immigration Authorities seem to share info with Shanghai Municipal Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SHAFEA) and started urging those who have applied for cancellation of Work Permit but failed to or have not submitted application for cancelling Residence Permit for Work within 10 working days to cancel.

Q. I've got Work Permit and working visa in Shanghai, but want to work in Beijing, is it OK?


Article 43 of Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates:

Any of the following acts of foreigners shall be deemed unlawful employment: (2) Work in China beyond the scope prescribed in the work permits.

Q. What does "Illegal / Unlawful Employment" exactly mean?
According to Article 43 of Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China, the term "Unlawful Employment" refers to the following:

 (1) Work in China without obtaining Work Permit and/or Residence Permit for Work in accordance with relevant regulations;

 (2) Work in China beyond the scope prescribed in his/her Work Permit; or

 (3) Foreign students work in violation of the Regulations on the Administration of Foreign Students Working to Support Their Study in China and work beyond the prescribed scope of jobs or prescribed time limit.