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".
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.
Currently, there is not such alternative, you must have a valid visa.
You can try one of the followings:
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.
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.
Any of the following acts of foreigners shall be deemed unlawful employment: (2) Work in China beyond the scope prescribed in the work permits.