China’s New Exit-Entry Law Targets Illegal Foreigners

Posted by Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Yao Lu

Jul. 6 – With the aim of curbing the illegal entry, stay and employment of foreigners as well as clarifying punishments for people who enter, live or work in the country illegally, China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), concluded its 27th meeting and passed a new Exit-Entry Administration Law on June 30.

The new Exit-Entry Administration Law is enacted to cope with the rising trend of immigration and to target new problems and situations faced by the Exit-Entry Administration. The new law integrates and improves upon the two already existing laws (the PRC Law on the Control of the Exit and Entry of Citizens and the PRC Law on the Control of the Exit and Entry of Aliens), and has several new features.

The new Exit-Entry Administration Law will take effect on July 1, 2013, with the two previous laws scheduled to be abolished concurrently.

Exerting harsher punishments

Illegal employment sanctions
According to the new law, employers will be fined RMB10,000 for every foreigner they illegally employ up to a maximum fine of RMB100,000. Any monetary gains that have resulted from the employment of such individuals will also be forfeit.

Illegal working sanctions
The new law stipulates that foreigners should obtain the required identity and employment documents when they are working in China. Any expat caught working in China without valid employment documents could be fined between RMB5,000 and RMB20,000, with detention also possible in serious cases.

Fines and detention for illegal stay
Foreigners staying in the country illegally will be given a warning before being fined, however fines in severe cases may be as high as RMB10,000 and individuals could face detention times of between 5 to 15 days, according to the new law.

Foreign nationals found guilty of illegal entry, illegal residence or working illegally in the country may be repatriated and will not be allowed to re-enter China for a five-year period. Foreigners who violate China’s laws and regulations and are deemed “unsuitable” to stay will be given an exit deadline to depart voluntarily. Those who commit “severe violations” that do not constitute crimes may be deported and not allowed to enter the country again for a 10-year period. The new law further states that people who assist in such illegal acts will also be punished.

Strengthening supervision and management

Length of residence certificates
Foreigners’ work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum 90 days and a maximum of five years, according to the new law. Non-work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum 180 days and a maximum of five years. For foreigners holding visas with a maximum stay of 180 days, the holders should hand in documents to government departments above the county level to apply for an extension seven days before the certificate expires, adding that the length of the extension should not exceed the originally permitted duration.

Request for biometric data
Foreigners seeking residency must provide their fingerprints and “other biometric data” to the public security bureau (PSB). In addition, the PSB and Ministry of Foreign Affairs may, with the State Council’s approval, promulgate regulations to collect such biometric data from persons exiting and entering the country.

Obligation to report
Units or personnel employing foreigners or enrolling foreign students should report employment information to the local police departments. Meanwhile, citizens are encouraged to report clues to the authorities regarding foreigners who may work and live in China illegally.

Restrictions over residence and working locations of foreigners
The law also allows the Chinese government to restrict foreigners and foreign entities from establishing residences or workplaces in certain locations. If already established in banned areas, they could be given deadlines to move.

Improving facilitation and convenience

Although the new Exit-Entry Administration Law stipulates harsher punishments for foreigners who illegally enter, live or work in China, at the same time, it also aims to better facilitate and offer more convenience to foreigners who choose to take the proper legal route.

Introduction of “talent visas”
The new law introduces a new category of visas, termed “talent visas,” which underlines the country’s increasing efforts to attract high-caliber talented individuals from overseas to assist in the country’s development. The new law further states that foreigners who make “outstanding contributions” to China will be granted permanent residence.

Extension of ordinary visa
The new law allows longer visa-free stopovers and more temporary entries based on international conventions and humanitarian considerations in order to attract more tourists and business people.

Ordinary visas will be granted to foreigners who enter the country to work, study, visit relatives, travel or conduct business, as well as to those who qualify for the above-mentioned “talent visa.”

Improvement of “green card” system
The new law further improves China’s “green card” system and paves the way for further relaxing of the requirements on permanent residency, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Introduction of treatment of refugees
For the first time, China has added provisions to its domestic law regarding the treatment of refugees. The new law allows refugees to stay in China after obtaining an ID card from public security authorities. Asylum-seekers will also be allowed to use a temporary ID card to stay in the country while their refugee status is under examination.

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