Started on Nov. 1, 2016, Shenzhen trials enforcement of a national pilot program to merge the two existing foreign work permits, the border entrance work permit and the foreign experts work permit.
The new work permit system for expatriate employees will be implemented nationwide by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs on April 1, 2017, according to the State Council.
The program will allow applicants to download forms online for completion and submission, which creates a lifelong individual code for the storage of personal information, such as work experience, service and credit.
All applications are expected to be finished through one service window within five working days, half the time of the previous application and cutting out approximately 70 of the old procedures.
The Shenzhen Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs said that test runs for the new application system have been successful and it has published brochures for the convenience of local applicants. It will also organize trainings for employers of foreigners to acquaint them with the new procedures.
According to the administration, work permits that were issued previously and are within the expiry dates are still valid. Applications for extension, change or cancellation of the old permits should stick to the old system.
“The integration of the two different work permits is designed to remove impediments, such as inconsistent administration, policies and inefficient communication related to different and often complicated issues regarding jobs, identities and social statuses of foreigners,” said Zhang Jianguo, head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.
“It will help reduce repetitious checks and approvals, avoid administrative loopholes and improve efficiency by building a more active, open and efficient personnel introduction system as required by the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang, this year,” Zhang added.
Trials of the integrated mechanism will be officially launched in Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan and Ningxia on Nov. 1.
Based on their experiences, such as how to distribute duties, improve coordination among different departments, and streamline procedures and systems, the system is expected to be expanded to other provinces and regions next year.
“We’ll learn from the experiments and become aware of the problems in the pilot cities and regions, so we can search for pertinent solutions,” Zhang said.
The administration will issue a new work permit card equipped with contactless chip using RFID technology, and displaying the foreigner’s name, photo, visa number, workplace, and the duration and expiry date of permitted stay.
Moreover, some application materials will not be needed when foreigners apply for the new work permit, such as a personal resume.
Nadia Maria is a teacher from the United States who now works at Shenzhen University. She told the Shenzhen Daily that getting approval to work under the current system was a “long, tedious and troublesome” task for foreigners.
“I actually got a job offer before coming to China, but it took me around six months to get the legal permits to come here,” said Maria.
What’s even worse about the long procedure is that foreign employees usually don’t get paid until they receive the permits, according to Maria.
“I remember my colleagues at Shenzhen University had talked to me back and forth for a long time and I needed to go to at lease five government offices to get my approvals,” said Maria.
The lecturer at the College of International Exchange said that she hoped the soon-to-be-adopted policy would streamline the procedures for foreigners.