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on Wednesday, 23 November 2016
in Business in China

Which class do you belong to?

China is testing a new work permit system that ranks foreigners

On November 1st of 2016, the Chinese government introduced a new work permit system that categorizes foreigners into “classes”. Under this system the “Alien Employment Permit” and “Foreign Expert Certificate” are combined to create a “Foreigner`s Work Permit” (FWP), which looks a lot like the Chinese ID card. The work permit will display an identification number, a photo and the name of the individual effectively replacing the passport for tasks such as purchasing train tickets. The FWP is currently being tested in nine cities or provinces, including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai with the plan being to roll out the new work permit policy nationwide by April 2017.

What  does this mean if you want to work, or continue to work, in China?

Using a points-based system, foreign workers will  be placed into 3 different classes; Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A contains “highly-qualified and tiered talents”, Class B, “professional talents” and Class C, unskilled workers or those working in the service industry. The points system is based on educational background, work experience, salary, age, workplace location, and Chinese-language skills according to HSK levels. Thus, if a person scores above 85 points they will belong to Class A, a score between 60-85 places them in Class B, and a score below 60 in Class C. Having said that, there are a number of other criteria used to categorize a person to their respective class.

These are the so-called automatically-qualifying requirements and are shown below:

Class A auto-qualifying criteria:

-          being selected by China’s talent import plan

-          holding an internationally recognized reward

-          being able to fill labor shortages as encouraged by the Chinese government

-          being an innovative and entrepreneurial talent

-          being selected by the Youth-Talent Project

Class B auto-qualifying criteria:

-          having a Bachelor’s  or higher degree and 2 years full time related work experience

-          having a Master’s degree from any university in mainland China or from any world top 100 university

-          wanting to teach in China  and holding a Bachelor’s degree and 2 years of full time teaching experience (teaching in the native language only)

Class C auto-qualifying criteria:

-          those coming to China based on governmental agreement

-          internships based on governmental agreement  (F.E. French VIE)

-          foreign maids who accompany employers in Class A

-          seasonal jobs on Chinese borders as approved by the Chinese government

Class A designated foreigners who do not need to worry as there is no limit on how many of the new work permits will be distributed. However, Classes B and C will be capped according to market demand and age, with Class C possibly also being restricted based on relevant state regulations. This has led to some observers commenting that this new policy will allow the Chinese government to wheedle out ‘undesirable’ foreigner workers and attract a more highly-skilled and “professional” international workforce instead. 

In order to apply for a Foreigner`s Work Permit you will need the FWP application form, job-related qualifications, a certificate of education, proof of no criminal record, a health examination report and an employment contact. As for the issuing of the new work permit card, Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau have stated that the process will take around 20 days.

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