CHINA | SHANGHAI – Major Changes in Work Permit Process

While the pilot program has been ongoing in seven provinces since November, China’s new nation-wide standardized work permit system is slated for implementation across the country on April 1. Shanghai, one of the initial seven pilot provinces, has announced numerous process changes – including a temporary pause on application processing – to prepare for the final roll-out. As home to China’s largest expatriate population, Pro-Link GLOBAL takes this opportunity to focus on the coming changes and the state of the work authorization process in Shanghai.

Shanghai… Expat Population and Immigration System

China’s most populous and international city, Shanghai is home to the country’s largest number of foreign nationals, with up to 300,000 of China’s estimated 850,000 working expats residing in the city. It’s diverse and rapidly expanding economy reportedly attracts highly skilled foreign nationals from more than 200 countries. More than 50 Fortune 500 companies have their world or regional headquarters in this strategically-located coastal city. While known around the world as mainland China’s banking and investment center, Shanghai also boasts a large manufacturing sector, accounting for around 40 percent of its regional GDP, and the world’s busiest shipping container port. Increasingly, government and industry leaders are turning their sights on attracting the world’s brightest tech talent and making Shanghai the technology innovation center of China as well.

As a result, Shanghai has perhaps the most sophisticated immigration and work authorization processes among the Chinese provinces. Shanghai has traditionally been at the forefront of reforming China’s oftentimes overly-bureaucratic immigration system in an effort to better attract and accommodate foreign talent. So it comes as no surprise as we approach the April 1 implementation date for China’s new nation-wide work permit system, that Shanghai is at the forefront of the roll-out with numerous changes being announced right now.

What’s Changing?

There are several changes to current work authorization and entry visa processes happening in the next two weeks of which companies employing foreign nationals in Shanghai should be aware. Pro-Link GLOBAL regrets that some of the below guidance may be less than crystal clear, as the Shanghai authorities are still in the process of ironing-out the details; but we wanted to get this important information out to companies as soon as possible to anticipate the coming changes. Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Shanghai office is currently liaising with Chinese officials to obtain further guidance on the revised processes as soon as it is released. Please watch for our future alerts, as we anticipate updating the below initial information over the coming weeks.