Shanghai Becomes First City in Mainland China to Grant Foreign Domestic Workers Residency

Posted by Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Alexander Chipman Koty

On March 31, Shanghai became the first city in mainland China to grant a residence permit to a foreign worker providing domestic services. The development is notable given the Chinese government’s usual reluctance to grant foreigners visas for unskilled labor, and reaffirms Shanghai’s status as the mainland’s most international city.

The first foreigner accorded the one-year permit was a maid from the Philippines, who was granted a visa to work for an American executive in Shanghai’s Pudong district. The Shanghai Entry-Exit Administration Bureau has now granted the permit to over 20 foreign domestic workers.

Employers must apply to the Entry-Exit Administration Bureau on behalf of the foreign domestic worker that they would like to hire.

Individuals eligible to apply for a foreign domestic worker to obtain residency are:

Foreigners employed in the following areas are also eligible to apply on behalf of a domestic worker:

  • The Shanghai Free Trade Zone;
  • The Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park;
  • Higher education or scientific research institutions; and,
  • Professional areas the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau recognizes as helpful to scientific and technological innovation.

Professional Service_CB icons_2015RELATED: Payroll and Human Resource Services

The application requires supporting documents such as a labor contract, a statement of financial support, proof of personal insurance, and a health certificate. Each foreign employer is allowed to employ only one foreign domestic worker. Chinese nationals are not permitted to hire foreign domestic workers.

Foreign domestic workers can first enter China with a tourist visa before applying for the residence permit. However, the Exit-Entry Administration of the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau in Pudong is currently the only office able to process such applications.

Foreign domestic workers were ineligible to work in Shanghai until July 2015, when limited high-level executives and professors were allowed by the authorities to hire foreign domestic workers. This latest reform is part of a series of measures from the Shanghai municipal government aimed at attracting foreign experts and professionals to the city. The municipal government eased visa policies for foreigners in December 2016.

The relaxed visa rules for foreign domestic workers are expected to lead to the arrival of more workers from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Filipino domestic workers are already working in China illegally, though there is demand for more given their English language ability.

Both domestic service employers and employees will benefit from the reform in Shanghai, which will create more transparency and regulatory oversight for a local labor market that was affected by grey practices.


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10 thoughts on “Shanghai Becomes First City in Mainland China to Grant Foreign Domestic Workers Residency

    Raylene Ouyang says:

    Shanghai first mainland city to grant visas to maids. could you list the legal agencies name.

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Raylene,

    The Shanghai Entry-Exit Administration Bureau is the government body in charge of approving foreign domestic workers’ residency status.

    ian says:

    Is there a website that you could direct us to? I cannot seem to find an official announcement, and maid agencies contacted still claim that hiring filipino domestic workers are illegal

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Ian,

    The website of the Shanghai Entry-Exit Bureau can be found here: http://www.shciq.gov.cn/english/
    For more information or advisory, please contact our HR professionals here: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Jonalyn Quintero says:

    If a Chinese residence but they are a green card holder ,are they eligible to hire a Filipino helper?

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Jonalyn,

    The key requirement to be eligible to hire a foreign domestic worker is to be a “high-level professional” in one of the eligible areas. A green card alone is not enough of a qualification to hire one. “High-level professional” likely refers to “A” status on a work permit, as described here: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/07/19/china-work-permits-are-you-a-b-c-tier-talent.html

    Bella says:

    Hi , Is a pink card holder married to a foreinger .

    With 2 girls(age, 2& 4 years old) , Studying in Shanghai able to

    employ a domestic helper?

    Thank you

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Bella,

    To employ a foreign domestic worker, the foreigner needs to be in the appropriate area and a “high-level” professional – meaning he or she would likely require an ‘A’ work permit classification, as explained here: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/07/19/china-work-permits-are-you-a-b-c-tier-talent.html

    However, you would still be able to employ a domestic worker who is a Chinese national if these requirements are not met.

    Jeri says:

    What is the requirement for chinese national to be eligible to hire a domestic helper since you only mentioned foreigner requirememts?

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Jeri,

    Chinese nationals can freely hire Chinese domestic workers, but for the time being it is generally only foreign experts that are allowed to hire foreign domestic workers. However, this rule may be liberalized in the future. For more information, please contact our HR specialists: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

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