China adopted a new foreigner’s work permit application system since last April. Under the new system, a foreigner working in China can obtain a foreigner’s work permit usually with a validity period of up to five years (For more information, you may refer to our newsletter “New Work Permit Application System of Foreigners- What is New?”).

According to the practice in the past, the renewal of a foreigner’s work permit can be applied at the time when or even after the work permit expires. But this will be changed after 28 February 2018.

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, which is the competent PRC administrative authority in charge of issuing foreigner’s work permits, made a public announcement on 7 December 2017 on its On-line Service System for Foreigners Working in China about the requirements on the deadline for applying for the renewal of a foreigner’s work permit (“Notice”). According to the Notice, as of 28 February 2018, a company must submit a renewal application for its foreign employee thirty (30) days before the expiration of the validity period of his/her work permit (“Deadline”). If the company misses the Deadline, the company has to apply for a work permit for its foreign employee by following the procedures on obtaining a new work permit rather than the procedures on renewing a work permit.

Under the new application system, according to the current practice, the procedures on renewing a work permit are much simpler than those of obtaining a new work permit. For the renewal, as long as the foreigner’s work position remains unchanged, the company only needs to submit a standard renewal application form, the foreigner’s employment contract/employment document, passport and residence permit as well his/her current work permit. It usually takes 10 working days for approval.

However, if the Deadline is missed, starting from 28 February 2018, the company has to apply for a work permit for its foreign employee by following the procedures on obtaining a new work permit. This means more complicated procedures, additional application documents and longer approval period. Under the procedures on obtaining a new work permit, before applying for a work permit for its foreign employee, the company might have to obtain a notification of foreigner’s work permission for its foreign employee; the foreign employee might have to obtain a new Z Visa abroad, and submit the application documents such as the education/professional qualification certificate, work experience statement, no-criminal record certificate and other application documents. Some of the application documents may need to be certified at the foreign employee’s home country. In practice, subject to the preparation for the application documents, it may take one to three months for a company to complete the entire procedures. 

Based on above, the companies hiring foreign employees may wish to pay close attention to the expiring dates of their foreign employees’ work permits, and submit the application for the renewal of the work permits for its foreign employees within the Deadline. In practice, such an application can be submitted 30 days to 60 days before a foreigner’s work permit expires.