Criminal Record Certificates to be Required for China Work Visas

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Aug. 28 – Public Security Bureau sources close to Dezan Shira & Associates have indicated that additional requirements for the issuing of working visas in China have been put in place. These could include a certification of “no criminal record” to be issued by immigration agencies of foreign governments, on which an official statement must be obtained certifying the visa applicant has no prior criminal convictions in his home country. Details to the extent of this documentation, applicable levels of criminal offense, or how it applies to long term residents of other countries, have yet to be worked out.

While China is expected to relax business visa issuance shortly after the completion of the Paralympics, the issuing of work visas will become even more more stringent, according to the source, while the length of time foreign visitors stayed in China on business visas and on tourist visas in the country will be more closely monitored for abuse.

Previously, work visa issuance requires the provision of a contract between a registered company in China and the individual concerned, a full health check, an interview with the Public Security Bureau, registration with the PSB over residency in China, and subsequent registration with the tax authorities and immigration department. The new move comes after Olympics security concerns became evident, and after a sizeable number of Chinese businesses, some of them SOEs, reported fraud being conducted upon them by foreign nationals hired as employees who subsequently turned out to have previous criminal records from their home countries.

In one such case in Shanghai, the foreign employee absconded with the contents of the businesses bank account, leaving other employees without salaries and the business with no cash. It subsequently had to close, lay off all expatriate and local staff without pay, and declare bankruptcy. The company concerned was a subsidiary of a large State-owned enterprise. The perpetrator is still on the run in the country and is known to have committed other offenses in his home jurisdiction.

We will keep you updated as requirements for the issuance of work and other visas for China become clearer, but it does seem as if visa application procedures will continue to be tightened concerning the credibility of personnel aiming to work and live in the country.

For assistance with, or questions concerning the obtaining of work and residents visas and permits in China, and for the applicable individual income tax obligations, please email