By Lucy Lu, Ding Wu  King & Wood Mallesons’ Commercial & Regulatory group

陆慧文At the end of 2015, the Administrative Examination and Approval Reform Office of the State Council decided to integrate the Employment Permit for Foreigners (issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security) and the Foreign Expert Work Permit (issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) into the Foreigner’s Work Permit in China. This new policy has been implemented nationwide since 1 April 2017. Being more than just a simple combination of permits, the “Two-in-One License” reform realizes the unified management of foreigner’s employment in China. Below are highlights of the new policy.

Unification of the Certificate Name 

The “Two-in-One License” reform integrates the certificates based on the old system. The previous “Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China” and “Foreigners Employment Permit for” are integrated into the “Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit in the People’s Republic of China”, which could be downloaded online for printing; the previous “Certificate of Foreign Expert” and “Foreigner Work Permit” are integrated into “Foreigner Work Permit Card”., which is the lawful certificate for foreigners to be employed in China. Each “Foreigner’s Work Permit Card” has one unique lifetime code.

Abolishment of the Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit

According to the Decision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on Amending the Administrative Regulations on the Employment of Foreigners in China on 13 March 2017, the previous “Employment visa” is replaced with a “Z visa”, and the application requirement/documents of “Z visa” is amended to “his or her employment permit (i.e. the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit) and the valid passport issued by his or her home country”. The application for the invitation letter of the authorized unit is removed, thus making the application process simpler.

Simplification of Application Materials

The “Two-in-One License” reform simplifies the application materials.  The new policy removes the requirement for the application letter, resumes (both in Chinese and English), employment permit and other documents. Meanwhile, application materials are combined in one-time application because most application materials shall be submitted during the application for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit. Upon the application of Foreigner’s Work Permit Card, only a few supplementary materials are required to be submitted.

Classification of Foreigners and Points-based Management

The new policy divides foreign employees into three categories: top talent (Category A), professional talent (Category B) and unskilled workers or those working in the service industry (Category C). In the principle of “encouraging the high-end, controlling the average and restricting the low-end”, the new policy employs the classification management and points-based system that combines the standard method and the point accumulation method, thereby making the identification standard of the foreigner’s employment conditions more scientific, practical and predictable.

“Green Channel” for Top Talents

In particular, the new policy creates a “green channel” for foreign top talents who apply to work in China. For such applicants, the new policy sets no restrictions on age or work experience, and adopts a “commitment approach” to several application materials (e.g. no criminal record verification, certificates of academic degrees). In addition, no paper-based submission is required before the applicant enters into China and the time limit for application handling is also reduced to five (5) working days.