CHINA – New Exit-Entry Administration Law in Action
Several aspects of China’s new Exit-Entry Administration Law, which came into force from 1 July 2013, have now been implemented. The new rules are still in transition and further updates are expected in the coming weeks. Some key changes are described below.
Biometric Data for Residence Permit Applications
Effective immediately, residence permit applications, which are the final step of the immigration process in China, must be made in person, as biometric data (i.e. fingerprints; biometric photograph) will be collected at the point of application. This new process is representative of the spirit of the new Law, which is designed to cope with an increasing number of foreign nationals in China and a resulting increase in immigration non-compliance.
Increased Penalties for Non-Compliance
As noted in our alert back in June (accessible here, the new law both defines unauthorised work clearly and also increases penalties for non-compliance, as follows:
- Fines of between 5000RMB and 20,000RMB for foreigners working without valid employment documentation. Detention of 5-15 days may also be imposed.
- Fines of between 5000RMB and 50,000RMB for individuals who recommend foreign nationals for illegal employment
- Fines of between 5000RMB and 100,000RMB for companies for each foreigner illegally employed
- For foreigners illegally residing in China, a fine between 500RMB and 10,000RMB per day or detention from 5 to 15 days
- The new Law also gives the Public Security Bureau (PSB) the right to carry out on the spot interrogation and further interrogation for up to 48 hours. If suspicion of illegal work or residence cannot be cleared after 48 hours, the PS may detain suspects for up to 60 days.
- Foreign nationals may be ordered to leave China if found to be non-compliant with the new Law, and barred from re-entry for up to five years (or ten years for repeat offenders)
- Foreign nationals involved in unsettled civil cases, on the other hand, and who are sentenced to criminal punishment, may be prohibited from exiting China.
New Visa Categories; Change of Status Not Possible
Effective immediately, dependents of employment permit holders will need to apply for S visas (previously, dependents were issued with Z visas) at the Chinese diplomatic post in the home country before entering China.
Change of status from business/tourism status to residence status within China is now only available for legal representatives of a company and their family members.
Q visas are available for family members of Chinese nationals or permanent residents.
New Documents: Police Clearances, Legalisations of Marriage and Birth Certificates
Police clearance certificates from the home country are now required for Alien Employment Licence applications. These must be legalised for use in China.
Additionally, original marriage and birth certificates for accompanying dependents are now required, which must also now be legalised for use in China and translated into Chinese. This must be done in the country of issuance of the certificate; lead time will vary greatly depending on the documents, but this will likely add several weeks to processing time.
Business Visas Divided into F and M Visas
The business visa category (previously F) has now been divided into F and M, as follows:
- F Visas – for non-commercial visitors, for example, foreign nationals coming to China on cultural exchanges
- M Visas – for business travellers, and those coming to China for trade purposes
New “Talent Introduction” R Visa
The “Talent Introduction” R visa has been introduced, but it is still not clear exactly how foreign nationals may qualify for this route.
It is a new category designed to encourage highly skilled individuals to China, defined broadly as high-level foreign talent and urgently needed or in-shortage talent. It is likely that the new visa category will be used in the technological sector, but clear guidelines on the qualifying criteria are still unavailable.
Further announcements and updates regarding this are expected.
- Note that marriage and birth certificates must now be legalised; allow enough time to prepare this for applicants moving to China with family members
- Note that change of status from business/tourism to residence status is now only permitted in limited circumstances
- Note increased compliance enforcement and increased penalties for non-compliance