The new Chinese “Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China,” which took effect on July 1, 2013, will result in major changes to the residence permit procedures for foreign nationals who intend to work or study in China. The permits allow these foreign nationals to reside in China for a term of one to five years, depending on the approval issued by Chinese immigration authorities.
In 2012 alone, there were more than 27 million foreign nationals who entered China for tourism, work and study purposes. From 2007 to 2012, the number of foreign nationals who applied for resident permits in China jumped about 30 percent to reach a total of 667,000 by the end of 2012. Because of that, the Chinese government enacted the new law that contains the following significant changes:
- Immigration authorities in most cities in China (including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai) have extended their review and approval time frame for residence permit applications to 15 working days from the previous five working days.
- Foreign nationals must register their Chinese residences/hotel addresses with the district police departments within 24 hours of their arrival in China. If a foreign national stays in a hotel, the reception desk can usually assist with the police department registration. Failure to promptly register will result in a maximum penalty of RMB 2,000 (approximately $330 USD) as compared to the previous penalty of RMB 500 (approximately $84 USD). More importantly, failure to promptly register will substantially delay and later complicate the application for resident permits from Chinese immigration authorities.
- Foreign nationals who overstay the maximum stay period specified on their China visa can be fined RMB 500 (approximately $84 USD) per day (up to 10,000 RMB maximum (approximately $1,670 USD)) or be detained between five and 15 days. In comparison, the maximum penalty was previously RMB 5,000 (approximately $835 USD).
- You should organize the paperwork and in-China steps (such as your medical check for health certificate and hotel/lease arrangement in China) required for the resident permit application prior to your entry to China.
- You should register with the district police department in charge of your Chinese residence or hotel address as soon as you arrive in China.
- You should consult with a Chinese immigration specialist with regard to the maximum stay period specified on your Chinese visa. Most visas are valid for a year for multiple entries but the maximum stay per entry is typically less than 90 days (30, 60, or 90 days as specified in your visa). Prior to the exhaustion of the maximum stay, you must either apply for an extension of your visa or a conversion to a resident permit.