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Visas, Residency, Immigration & Documentation

China - Visas, Residency, Immigration & Documentation

A valid passport and visa are required to enter China and the latter must be obtained from a Chinese Embassy or Consulate before travelling to China. China has very strict immigration laws, and anyone arriving without the appropriate visa is likely to be fined and immediately deported.

The main categories of visa for people entering China for employment purposes are the Business/Official Visit Visa, the Employment/Work Visa, and the Resident Visa. Additional permits are required to visit many remote areas, including Tibet. Visa requirements for Hong Kong are not the same as for the People's Republic of China (see Hong Kong guide).

It is necessary to obtain a business or work visa before travelling to China, and to apply for a residence permit once in the country. In order to be successful in obtaining an employment visa, applicants must be over 18, be in good health, have a definite job offer and the appropriate skills and experience for the position being offered and have no criminal record.

Labour departments in different regions of China operate different application procedures for obtaining an employment permit. The usual procedure is as follows:

1. The employer must apply to the supervising authority of the relevant industry for a licence, submitting a completed application form, letter of intent to hire, justification for hiring this individual, copies of the prospective employee's resume and references, and evidence of the good health of the employee, confirmed by a medical report. The medical report must confirm that the employee has had a negative test for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

2. Once the licence has been obtained, a visa notification letter and employment permit will be sent to the employee. On obtaining these, the employee should apply for an employment visa from the Chinese embassy in their home country, or through an agent in Hong Kong. They will need to submit a completed application form, the visa notification letter and employment permit, their passport with at least 12 months validity remaining, a passport photo and a letter confirming their job offer. To apply for visas for dependents, the employee should also submit the relevant application forms, original passports, additional passport photographs, birth certificates and marriage certificate. The employment visa is usually issued within two weeks, and the employee and their dependents must enter China within 90 days of the visa being issued.

3. Within 15 days of arrival in China, the employer is required to apply to the local labour department for an employment certificate for their expatriate employee. They will need to submit a completed application form, employment permit, a medical report issued by the Sanitation and Anti-Epidemic Department or a health certificate issued by a public hospital recognized by this Department, three passport photos, the employment contract and the employee's passport.

4. Within 30 days of arrival in China, the employee must apply for a residence permit from the municipal or county Public Security Bureau in their area of residence. A temporary residence permit is issued to those staying less than a year, and a foreigner's residence permit to those staying a year or longer. To obtain a residence permit, it is necessary to submit a letter from the employer, a medical report, justification for staying in China, two passport photos, a copy of the employer's business licence and, in the case of foreign ventures, a foreign-invested enterprise approval certificate.

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