New Online Employment Visa Application Debuted in Shanghai

Posted by Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Weining Hu

The Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) recently announced that alien employment services counters in Shanghai will stop accepting new Employment Permit applications at 5pm on March 24, 2017. From the following day, all employers in Shanghai will be required to apply for employment permits via the online management system for foreign workers in China (Management System). The new policy only applies to foreign employees who currently hold a Foreign Expert License or an Employment License, and therefore need to apply for an Employment Permit.

Under the old visa and immigration policies, an Alien Expert License holder needs to apply for an Alien Expert Certificate in order to legally work in China, while an Alien Employment License holder is required to apply for an Alien Employment Permit. However, the above two types of foreign employees no longer need to apply for different work permits. This is because the China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs will unify those two work permits into a single ‘Alien Employment Permit’, which will become effective from April 1, 2017.

The latest policy issued by the SAFEA was made to facilitate the above new unified work permit program. The SAFEA allows foreign employees in Shanghai who currently hold the Alien Employment License or the Alien Expert Certificate to apply for the new unified Alien Employment Permit online starting from March 25, a week ahead of the nationwide rollout. It is recommended that foreign employees notify their employers and submit the necessary documents to facilitate the application process.

The following steps outline the process and the required documents for Alien Employment License or Alien Expert Certificate holders and their employers under the new visa policy.

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Step 1: Apply online

The first step in the application process is to be completed by the employer in China. An employer looking to hire a non-Chinese employee should submit an application with the relevant documents online on the Management System. If an employer has previously registered an account on the Management System, then it can skip Step 1 and Step 2, and directly apply for an Alien Employment Permit for its foreign employee.

Step 2: Verification of the employer’s application

After the application has been registered online, the employer should go to a local alien employment service counters to verify its registration information in person. If the employer’s application meets the requirements, its online account on the Management System will be rectified by the administrative organ. A list of the local employment services counters can be found on the website of Shanghai Employment Service & Administration.

Step 3: Apply online for new unified Alien Employment Permit

Upon receiving permission from the administrative organ, an employer can now log in to its account on the Management System and complete the application. For foreign employees, the following documentation is required:

  • “Work Permit for Aliens of the People’s Republic of China” application form with official company seals from the current employer and signature of the applicant;
  • Proof of employment, including employment contract, Letters of Job Appointment, or Contracts of Labor Dispatch (All copies should be written in Chinese with company seals, applicant’s signature, and date);
  • Certificates of highest level of education (supportive documentation includes certificates issued by industry specialists, proof of professional qualifications, etc.);
  • Proof of related work experience or resume (needs official seals from current employer);
  • Foreign Expert License or Alien Employment License with validity (should be uploaded under the attachment column of Others Materials);
  • Proof of medical examination;
  • A clear passport sized photo from the last six months;
  • Passport or other travel document; and
  • Documentation for accompanying family members, which include: family member’s passport or other travel document, photo, proof of medical examination (only for adults over 18 years old), and proof of family relationships with copies translated in Chinese.
Step 4: Review and final decision

After the employer’s application has been verified, the decision-making body will review the materials and make a decision to accept or decline the employer’s request to hire a foreign worker. It is unclear how long this process will take. If the applicant meets the conditions for the work permit, the agency will offer the applicant the Foreign Employment Permit within 10 working days after the announcement of their final decision.

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Notably, type of applicant (holders of a Foreign Expert License or an Employment License), if approved after the final review, will be granted a B level Employment Permit. Starting from April 1, China will adopt the three-tiered system which classifies foreign workers as A, B, or C level candidates.

The classification system takes into account candidates’ education, salary level, age, time spent working in China, and Chinese language skills. Applicants who receive more than 85 points are given the letter “A”, 60 to 85 points “B”, and less than 60 points “C.” If the applicant is qualified for an A level Employment Permit, the employer can upload related proof documentations under the column of Other Materials in support of the application.


Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email or visit

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