Obtaining a Z Visa, Work Permit and Residence Permit in China
By Xiaolei Gu
May 17 – The Beijing Public Security Bureau announced the commencement of a three-month campaign beginning May 15 to “clean up” illegally entered/stayed/employed foreigners through its Sina Weibo account in an effort to establish a comprehensive mechanism for managing foreigners in China.
According to the Sina Weibo announcement, the Beijing Public Security Bureau will check key neighborhoods, carry out regular crackdowns in certain areas, and review visa applications more strictly and more carefully. Moreover, the Bureau also encourages public reporting of suspicious cases in the city.
Due to this “hard strike” by the government, it’s important for foreigners to double check their legal status and the current validity of their paperwork. It should be noted that foreign nationals working in China must have the proper approval and documentation. Earning wages in China on an L (“tourist”) visa or an X (“student”) visa is illegal. Below, we provide a brief introduction to the procedures necessary to obtain the proper visas and permits to legally stay and work in China.
According to the Administrative Measures for Employment of Foreigners in China (laobufa  No. 29), employers wishing to employ a foreign national in China need to go to the related Administrative Center for Employment of Foreigners to obtain the Employment License of the People’s Republic of China for Foreigners (hereinafter referred to as “work license”)
Documents required for company work license
- Application form for foreigner’s employment in China
- Employee’s resume (in Chinese, stamped)
- Certificate of employee’s work experience
- Report of reasons of employment
- Proof of capability of the employee
- Employee’s degree certificate
- Other legal documents required by related authorities (foreigner permits application IC card issued by the Labor Bureau; stamped copy of business license; stamped copy of corporate code certificate)
After the employer successfully obtains the license, the employee needs to go to the Chinese Embassy in their home country to obtain a Z visa. The Z visa is only a vehicle to enter China for a limited period of time. Upon arrival, the Z visa holder must then obtain work and residence permits which will allow them to legally work in the country.
Documents required for a Z visa
- Visa application form (with one recent visa photo affixed to the application form)
- Invitation letter from the employer
- Work license
Upon entering China, the foreign employee has to go to the entry and exit inspection and quarantine center to do a health check. After the employee obtains the health certificate, the employer has to go to the related Administrative Center for Employment of Foreigners to apply for a work permit. If the foreign employee is hired in China and is required to go back to their home country to apply for a Z visa, the individual is advised to get the health check prior to returning to the home country for the visa application.
Documents required for work permit
- Copy of the employment registration form of foreign employees in China (x2)
- Copy of the work license from the Labor Bureau
- Copy of labor contract
- Valid passport and visa (original)
- Copy of passport and visa
- Copy of health certificate
- 2-inch photo of employee (x3)
- Copy of the registration form of temporary residence
- Employee’s Chinese name
- Foreigner permit application IC card issued by the Labor Bureau
After the issuance of the work permit, the employee shall be able to go to Exit-Entry Administration Bureau of the local public security bureau to apply for their residence permit.
Documents required for residence permit
- Employment registration form of foreign employees in China
- Work permit (original)
- Visa and residence permit application form
- 2-inch photo of employee (x1)
- Original registration form of temporary residence and its copy
- Original passport and visa
- Original health certificate
- Letter of application from the employer with company stamp
- Original business license and a stamped copy
- Original corporate code certificate and a stamped copy
- Certificate of approval of business
After reviewing the application, the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau of the local public security bureau will deliver the passport back to the employee with the residence permit affixed inside.
Human Resources and Payroll in China (Third Edition)
A firm understanding of China’s laws and regulations related to human resources and payroll management is essential for foreign investors who want to establish or are already running foreign-invested entities in China. This guide aims to satisfy that information demand, while also serving as a valuable tool for local managers and HR professionals who may need to explain complex points of China’s labor policies in English.