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What happens to my visa and residence permit if I get fired or leave my job in China?

Photo by LaurMG

What happens to your visa when you lose your job on the Chinese mainland? The first thing here is to iron out the confusion between ‘visa’ and ‘residence permit’. Visas only exist to give their holders the opportunity to attempt to cross through a country’s border; they don’t show how long you can stay in the country – that’s why you need to get a temporary residence permit.

If you’re employed on a Z Visa then you should have both a long-term residence permit, probably about a year, and a work permit. Losing your job won’t do anything to your visa (which expired the day you got your residence permit), but it will remove your work permit and may affect your residence permit.


Your work permit

Basically, when you quit your job, your boss will probably cancel your work permit as a matter of course; this means that you cannot legally work in China unless you get employed by another company. If you are parting on good terms, you could ask them to keep your work and residence permits active until you find new employment, as this will make your life a lot easier (there are limits on the number of foreign staff that a company can hire, based on its size, so if they decline it might not be due to bad feelings).

If they do cancel your work permit they should also issue you with a stamped release letter, which you should hold on to – if you are hired by another company in China, they will ask you to provide that letter. If you parted on bad terms, your employer may try to withhold this letter from you in order to make your life harder.


Your residence permit

If your old company really hates you, they might decide to cancel your residence permit too. In this case, you must accompany someone from your company (or a visa agent that they have hired) to your local Public Security Bureau’s Exit and Entry Administration Office. There, they will cancel your permit and hand you a cancellation paper. 

You must then technically leave the country immediately – however, you can use the cancellation paper while you are in the Exit and Entry Administration Office to apply for a tourist visa (L Visa). You can then remain in China for another 30 days, but don’t forget to get a Registration Form of Temporary Residence as soon as possible! 

Remember: do not just give your passport to your (ex-)boss – you should always go to the Exit and Entry Administration Office with someone to get the residence permit cancelled.


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One Response to What happens to my visa and residence permit if I get fired or leave my job in China?

  • > “If your old company really hates you, they might decide to cancel your residence permit too.”
    As I understand, it’s actually in your interest to cancel your current residence permit within 10 days after last working day in your company, otherwise you will appear to stay in the country illegally, with danger to be deported and fine money, or even go to prison. And according to Chinese law, it is YOUR responsibility to control that your last HR canceled your residence permit or you do it by yourself.
    So the most correct thing to do after quitting a job is within 10 days go to Exit and Entry Administration Bureau to cancel the working residence permit, change to 1 month 0 entry nonrenewable Stay Permit (it means you will have 1 month to transfer your documents to your next company, if you found one). Don’t get in troubles.

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