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PRC Labour Law - Bitesize

30 October 2013
Mayer Brown JSM Newsletter

Employment of Foreigners (Including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Residents) in China

What does an employer need to do to employ a foreigner in the PRC?

The PRC employer normally needs to get the following documents:

  • Work Permit/Representative Card – This should be obtained in advance from the local PRC labour authority (see Bitesize of 23 January 2013 for details concerning application for a work permit). If the foreigner is to be the Chief Representative or a general representative in a PRC representative office of a foreign company, then a representative card must be obtained from the local Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC).
  • Work Visa Notification – This can generally be obtained by the employer from the local PRC Bureau of Commerce. In exceptional circumstances, it may also be obtained from other authorities (e.g., the Foreign Affairs Office of the local government).
  • Work Visa (Z Visa) – After obtaining the Work Permit and Work Visa Notification, the foreign employee needs to apply for a work visa through the relevant PRC embassy or consulate in the employee's home country.
  • Work Certificate – This is a follow-up process with the local PRC labour authority, which must be completed within 15 days after the foreign employee has entered the PRC with a work visa.
  • Residence Permit – The foreign employee needs to apply for a residence permit from the local PRC public security authority within 30 days after he or she has entered the PRC with a work visa.

Note: The list above can vary depending on job type; for example, to work as a journalist in the PRC requires a materially different process.

What is the legal process for obtaining the documents above?

The process generally involves completion of the following steps:

Before entering the PRC with a Z visa:

  1. Application for work permit/representative card
  2. Application for work visa notification
  3. Application for work visa

After entering the PRC with a Z visa:

  1. Temporary residence registration – which should be completed within 24 hours after the foreigner's entry into the PRC, with the local police station (in person or through the hotel where the foreigner resides)
  2. PRC health exam
  3. Application for work certificate
  4. Application for residence permit

What does a PRC employer need to do to employ a Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident (who is a Chinese national) in Mainland China?

Generally, the PRC employer only needs to apply to the local labour authority for a work certificate for employment of such Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident after he or she has entered Mainland China.

If such Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident is to act as the Chief representative or general representative in a PRC representative office of a foreign company, the PRC representative office also needs to apply to the local AIC for a representative card.

If the Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan employee is a Chinese national and has a foreign passport, which process (i.e., employment of foreigner, or employment of a Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident) will his/her PRC employer need to follow to employ him/her in Mainland China?

Practically speaking, this depends on what identification document the relevant person uses when entering Mainland China.

A Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident who is a Chinese national can enter Mainland China subject to a pass issued by the PRC government known as a "Pass for Hong Kong or Macao resident's entry into and exit from Mainland China" (in Chinese, “???????????”) or "Pass for Taiwan resident's entry into and exit from Mainland China" (in Chinese, “???????????”).

If such pass is to be used for entry into Mainland China, the PRC employer only needs to apply for a work certificate (and a representative card, if the person in question is to act as the Chief representative or general representative).

If the Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan resident is to enter the PRC on a foreign passport, he or she will be treated as a foreigner, and his or her PRC employer must follow the steps for employment of foreigner in the PRC (see above).

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