Dealing with the new Chinese work permit system

Published:  20 Jul at 6 PM
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China’s new work permit system for expats divides applicants into three tiers, dependent on point scoring of qualifications and experience.

Although the new system combines the two previous permits, making it easier for expats to decide which to use, as well as allowing employers to submit applications, it’s still causing confusion. Basically, those with top talents and qualifications should be home free and enjoy additional advantages, whilst those in the two lower tiers may need to meet tougher entry requirements, longer waiting times and lower permit validity.

Applicants are initially judged by point scoring via qualifications, salary levels, work experience, time in China, Mandarin proficiency, age and job location, with a score of 85 or more necessary for Tier A. In addition, points are awarded for those who’ve worked in China for five years or more, whose degrees are from top level universities, who’ve been previously employed by a Fortune 500 company and those whose talents are in short supply.

Certain specifics, if met, entitle applicants to a Tier A listing irrespective of their points score. These include excellence in their field, professorships, high ranking roles in previous employment, senior management status in banking and finance, senior positions relating to science and technology and other similar employment histories. The list is long, but being able to comply makes your work permit application a done deal.

Tier B applicants must score between 60 and 85 points to be considered, with a bachelor’s degree and two years’ related employment mandatory requirements. Skill sets in science, technology, education, the arts, sports, publishing, culture, trade, engineering and suchlike are required, with favourable consideration being given to those with urgently needed skills. Qualified and experienced English language teachers and expat professionals earning more than four times the average wage also fall into Tier B.

Tier C includes scores of below 60 points for new applicants, and also holds those who already have work permits but don’t qualify for the two higher tiers. Short-term workers for less than 90 days and workers in the various employment sectors subject to quotas or internships make up the rest of the lowest tier.

Around 16 per cent of applicants qualify for Tier A and its many advantages, with 61 per cent falling in Tier B, but Tier C is intended for those looking to work for short periods in the country. Tier C applicants are subject to quotas, the requirements of China’s labour market and longer visa processing times.
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