Hiring foreign staff in China





Having your own company doesn’t mean you can automatically hire foreign staff. Here’s an introduction to some of the rules concerning the recruitment of foreign labor.

 

Hiring permissions

If you’ve got any experience of working or doing business in China, you’ll know that many foreigners work in China illegally without work visas. Why? In some cases it’s because their companies are tight-fisted or find it more convenient to avoid the hassle of applying for them. However, another basic reason is that not every company in China has the necessary permissions to hire foreign staff.

A company’s ability to hire foreigners (and the maximum number of foreigners that company is permitted to hire) is most likely to be directly related to that company’s registered capital. Basically, the higher your registered capital, the more foreigners you’re able to hire. 

You should approach your local bureau of commerce for advice – the situation may vary from city to city – but conditions you’ll likely need to meet include:

  • Your business should have been in operation for over a year.
  • It must have a registered capital of over one million yuan.
  • If your company is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), your registered capital should be more than five million yuan.

However, before you can apply for the work visa – also known as a Z visa, you must apply for a work permit.

 

Work permits

If your company is permitted to hire foreign staff; the next step is getting a work visa for your foreign hires. Before applying for the visa, you’ll need to apply for a work permit for that person. This is a separate process, done through the local labor bureau, and probably the toughest hurdle to overcome. 

What you need to know is that China has very strict regulations on who is given a work permit. The basic requirements are:

  • The applicant must be at least 25 years of age.
  • Have a minimum of a bachelor degree.
  • Have a minimum of two years of “relevant” work experience in the field you are employing them in. 

You’ll also need to prove that you need a foreigner, ie. that a Chinese person could not carry out the same job equally effectively. 

 

Documents required to apply for a work permit

  1. Application Form of Foreigner Work Permit, which you can download here and print it out.
  2. A photocopy of the company’s business license.
  3. A photocopy of the company’s organization code certificate.
  4. The foreigner’s CV/resume including all relevant experience and their highest educational qualification. It should be translated into Chinese and marked with the company’s official stamp.
  5. Proof of qualifications related to the position offered to the foreigner. These include a letter of recommendation from a former employer and education degree certificates or diplomas.
  6. Certificate of No Criminal Record
  7. A photocopy of the foreigner’s passport information page; the passport should have at least six months’ validity from the expected date of arrival in China.
  8. The foreigner’s medical examination report
  9. A letter of intent regarding employment, signed by the company and the foreigner, with the company’s stamp. A faxed copy is acceptable, so long as the stamp is placed on the final fax. 

 

How to apply

  1. Take the documents to the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (see bottom of article for addresses) to apply for the work permit. 
  2. The bureau will give the employer a receipt. 
  3. It takes about 15 working days to process the application.
  4. The bureau will notify the company to let them know whether it has been approved or denied. If it has been approved, the bureau will give the company a time and date to fetch the permit

 

How to apply for a Z visa invitation letter

Required documents

  1. The original work permit issued by the local Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, and a photocopy.
  2. The original Application Form of Foreigner Work Permit stamped by the local Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, and a photocopy.
  3. A photocopy of the foreigner’s passport information page; the passport should have at least six months’ validity from the expected date of arrival in China.
  4. The foreigner’s CV/resume in English and Chinese, including all relevant experience and their highest educational qualification. It should be translated into Chinese and marked with the company’s official stamp.
  5. Proof of qualifications related to the position offered to the foreigner. These include a letter of recommendation from a former employer and education degree certificates or diplomas.
  6. A Letter of Guarantee, promising that the documents submitted are legal and authentic, and that the company will provide the cost of the foreigner’s stay in China. It should be signed by the employer and stamped with its company chop.
  7. A photocopy of the company’s business license.
  8. A letter of intent regarding employment, signed by the company and the foreigner, with the company’s stamp. A faxed copy is acceptable, so long as the stamp is placed on the final fax.

 

How to apply
Take these documents to the local commerce committee. It normally takes five working days to process the application.

Notes: All documents required should be presented in their original forms, along with photocopies of each.

 

The work visa

If you succeed in getting the work permit, and your foreign hire has all their other papers in order, they should be able to get their Z visa in their own country. Upon their arrival in China, you should take their Z visa and other documents to the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to have the visa converted into a residence permit.

You should also note the administrative costs of hiring foreign staff. Regulations vary, but all foreigners working legally in China are required to pay a percentage of their salary towards some parts of China’s “Five Insurances” welfare system (covering pensions, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance) and the housing fund. The employer is required to deduct this amount from the employee’s salary. The employer is also required to supplement the employee’s contribution with a contribution paid from their own revenues.  

 

Human Resources and Social Security Bureau addresses

The following are the contacts for the bureaus in the first four-tier cities.

Beijing Human Resource and Social Security Bureau

5 Yongdingmen Xijie, Xicheng district, Beijing

Contact: 010-5171-2333, 6331-6602 

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 am-11:30 am, 1 pm-5 pm

 

Shanghai Human Resource and Social Security Bureau

Linjing Building, 865 Zhongshan Bei Lu, Huangpu district, Shanghai

Contact: 021-2311-1111  

Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-4:30 pm

 

Guangzhou Human Resource and Social Security Bureau

Meihuacun Building, 28 Meidong Lu, Yuexiu district, Guangzhou

Contact: 020-8765-5325

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 am-midday, 1 pm-5 pm

 

Shenzhen Human Resource and Social Security Bureau

Floor 3, West Zone of Residence Center, Fuzhong San Lu, Futian district, Shenzhen

Contact: 0755-8210-8658

Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 am-midday, 2 pm-6 pm

 

Useful Chinese words and phrases                

外籍员工 wài jí yuán gōng  foreign staff
注册资本 zhù cè zīběn registered capital
外籍员工 wàijí yuángōng Foreign employee
工作许可 gōngzuò xǔkě Work permit
外国人来华邀请函 wàiguórén láihuá yāoqǐng hán Invitation Letter
担保函 dānbǎo hán Letter of Guarantee
履历 lǚ lì CV
合同意向书 hétóng yìxiàng shū Letter of employment intent

 

 

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