The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (the SAFEA), which is responsible for retaining foreign talent in China and managing the employment matters of foreigners, promulgated the Implementation Plan for the Pilot Work Permit System for Foreigners Working in China (the New Work Permit Scheme) on Sept. 27, 2016. Ten provinces and municipalities including Beijing and Shanghai were the first to implement the New Work Permit Scheme in October 2016. The New Work Permit Scheme will become applicable nationwide in April 2017.

 Below are some highlights of the New Work Permit Scheme:

Classification of Foreign Employees

Under the New Work Permit Scheme, foreign employees will be classified into Class A, Class B, or Class C based on their qualifications/merits or points evaluated by the local human resource authorities:

> Class A permits are issued to high quality talents whom the Chinese government wishes to retain. To be included in Class A, a foreigner needs to score at least 85 points in his or her evaluation or reach certain criteria of excellence set by the SAFEA. The Chinese government does not impose any quota on work permits for Class A foreign employees.

> Class B permits are issued to professional talents. Class B foreign employees should score at least 60 points in their evaluation or reach certain professional criteria set by the SAFEA. The Chinese government allocates and adjusts the quotas for the work permits to be granted to Class B foreign employees according to the market demand for foreign professionals in China.

> Class C permits are issued to ordinary employees. Foreigners who do not satisfy the requirements of Class A or Class B but need to apply for work permits in China will be categorized as candidates for Class C. Based on the New Work Permit Scheme, Class C is primarily set aside for unskilled workers, seasonal workers, temporary employees, interns sent to China pursuant to inter-governmental agreements, etc. The Chinese government strictly controls the quota for work permits for Class C foreign employees.

Streamlined Application Process

The New Work Permit Scheme has made the application process for foreigner work permits more streamlined and user-friendly. According to the New Work Permit Scheme, Chinese employers who intend to employ foreigners shall file an online application first and submit written application materials later, after the online application has been pre-screened and approved. The human resource authority shall process the online application within five working days upon filing of the online application. In addition, the New Work Permit Scheme provides a number of document checklists for Chinese employers and foreign employees to apply for work permits and any renewal or alteration thereof, as well as the standard formats of application forms in both Chinese and English.

- Implementation Plan for the Pilot Work Permit System for Foreigners Working in China

- 《外国人来华工作许可制度试点实施方案》

- Issuing authority: State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs

- Date of issuance: Sept. 27, 2016