This article will touch upon an alternative for working permit based on local employment.

With the growing consumption market and probably due to the relatively lower housing costs in Pearl River Delta, more and more foreigners are working in this area. Normally, the foreigners enter into the Employment Agreement with the local employers and then apply for a working permit. This may affect the social insurance and tax position of the foreigners back in home countries. In addition, the working permit based on the employment with the local employer can be complicated and time-consuming in certain regions in Guangdong.

Alternatively, the foreigner could be seconded by the offshore headquarters or entities to work as the “foreign expert” in China. However, the secondment arrangement was permitted on a limited basis and can only be approved on provincial level. We now see that the secondment arrangement is likely to be more available in Guangdong with a circular issued by the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of Guangdong Province in late 2015.

The major applicants for the Foreign Expert Working Permit were traditionally in cultural and educational field, e.g. teachers. The current practice has extended the applicants to high-ranking foreign technical or managerial professionals who are employed to take up position above vice general manager or enjoy equivalent treatment in China. It should be noted that such applicants shall hold a bachelor’s degree or higher degrees and have at least 5-year work experiences in related jobs. Our recent experience is that applicants in mid-level positions, such as senior consultants, or managers at mid-level or above, are also possible to be granted the Foreign Expert Working Permit.

Previously, all the applications must be submitted to the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of Guangdong Province and due to the high volume of applications received, the provincial foreign affair authority may take more time to complete the whole process. With the circular, the local foreign affair authority is authorized to approve and grant the Foreign Expert Working Permit and the timeframe is greatly shortened.

In order to apply for a Foreign Expert Working Permit, a Secondment Agreement with the offshore headquarter or entity, together with other documents like the resume, degree and professional certificates of the applicant and the business license of the local company are required. It usually takes approximately 20 working days to process the Foreign Expert Working Permit now, although in certain cases, it may take another 10 working days.

With the Foreign Expert Working Permit and Invitation Letter issued by relevant foreign affairs authority, the foreigner will be able to apply for the Z (Working) Visa at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in his/her home country.