Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

December 4

Disclaimer: This is an edited version of a previously made article. The original article was written by Julian via Kudosbay酷豆湾. Any information provided in this article may vary.

The following are questions regarding common visa concerns:

1.  I am a freelancer, have many part-time jobs, or work online, what is the proper visa for my situation?

Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

You will need to get a work visa because the purpose of your visit is work. It doesn’t matter whether you are paid or unpaid. You will need a full-time job in order to get a work visa because freelancing and only having part-time jobs are viewed by the authorities as unstable, and foreigners are supposed to be doing a job that is beyond the skills of a local person.

2.  I want to invite my family for a visit. Which visa is best?

It depends on their relationship to you and the duration of their stay.

Family members are considered as spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons or daughters, and mother/father-in-law.

Only these people are eligible for an S1/S2visa for visiting a relative here. This can become a frustration for most people because proof of your stay in is required and your passport copy, visa copy, plus additional documentation, such as an employer letter if you are working. If you are on a non-long term visa such as a tourist visa, you cannot help your family with this kind of visa.

Most countries’ consulates and embassies for require an itinerary of your prospective flights and the confirmation of a hotel stay for your visit for a tourist visa, which is much easier to prove.

The reason that booking the flights is not advisable is there is a chance that your relatives may not get the visa. Furthermore, the hotel reservation is always cancellable.

The nationality of your family or friends is also important because of ’s relationship with that country. Special benefits for tourist visa holders may make that kind of visa more valuable (such as the USA and China for ten-year visas).

If your family, friends, or other people stay with you and they are a foreigner you MUST help them register at your local police station for the certificate of temporary residence within 24 hours of their arrival. However, if you or your guest is staying at a first-class or a chain hotel (that accepts foreign guests), the hotel staff will handle that for you. Some properties have a relationship with the local police station for alternative arrangements.

Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

3. Company A is a company registered out of and company B is registered in China. Company A and B have a relationship to send employees to work in China. Which type of visa would they need?

A Work visa because any work activity whether paid or unpaid in requires a work visa. There are specific short-term work visas now that can be obtained for people who will be working in for less than 180 days. If more than 180 days, then the regular work permit and residence permit would be required.

Many companies do not want to process short term working visas because from the company’s point of view it is the same amount of work to process. From the employee’s perspective, the short-term work visa is not a substitute for the long term one. One is only allowed a limited number of renewals of the short-term one, but the employee requirements are lower because it is not to be used substitute a long term one.

A related issue to this is a tax issue because you would still be considered a working individual in China, which would technically mean you need to pay taxes in China.

This can be handled in a couple of different ways. Firstly, a corporate agreement between the two companies could be made where Company A would pay Company B money for the employee’s taxes in China. Alternatively, Company B could pay the employee a salary in and then have that subjected to taxes. The latter is an easier method for having an appropriate contract to obtain a work visa, as well.

Company B would have to be legally registered in Mainland to be able to assist with the visa process and also Company B’s operation would need to meet the requirements to employ foreigners. Remember that Hong Kong companies are legally a foreign company.

It is important to remember that a business visa would be inappropriate for this situation because that visa is meant for people coming to for meetings, factory visits, trade shows, conferences, etc and NOT for working.

If the individual(s) is/are just here for ‘consulting work’ and will not be maintaining an office, it would depend on the details of their situation. It depends if the authorities could find that they have the intention to work here. For example, it depends on what exactly they are doing here and the duration, as well as how it looks. Meetings will not happen for months on end but perhaps could happen for a few weeks.

Another consideration is the required exits that are not required with a work visa, which do cost time and money. If you were unlucky and only hold a 30-day business visa, then this could be quite an expense. You also risk intense questioning and other consequences if you are often here for long periods of time and exit for short periods of time.

The bottom line is that the safest method is via a work visa because then they are completely legal for the purpose of their visit and they will only suffer the consequences if they are caught working illegally.

Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

4. An agent gave me an offer to pay more money to be in their company or for them to arrange a company for me to be employed by. This means I could be free to work for whomever I want, right? (or Could I just get a work visa from my friend’s company?)

We would advise you to be careful in this kind of situation. It is highly likely in this case that the agent is claiming that you are employed as a certain position beyond your knowledge and supplying a contract for that position to the government for the visa, because a full-time job is required for the applications and proving that a local person cannot engage in that position is also part of the requirements. The point is that if you are not working for the company that your visa is, it will eventually be a problem. It may not come to light for a long time such as until you want to change your visa with a company you are working for or something happens with this company, etc.

5.  I am employed legally in China, but I would like to engage in an additional job. Is this legal?

Yes and no.

You can obtain a formal document from your employer allowing you to participate in an extra job, but be careful because many positions have contracts that clearly prohibit it, so you would not be able to ask your employer for such a document.

In most cases, this is fine, assuming you also have a work visa, although it is strictly not permitted.

The issue, though, is IF you are caught. Some of the authorities won’t actually care too much just as long as you’re holding a work visa, while others will. Some people have been penalized for it, while others have not because you are only supposed to work for the employer that is tied with your work permit. Another issue that is the taxes for that job.

6.  I heard that I can apply for a five-year work permit and residence permit. Is this true?

Contracts for more than one year can be submitted to the government for the processing of one’s work permit and residence permit, but this does not mean that the entire time will be granted. It has much to do with the applicant’s qualifications and to the details of the company (such as area of business, paid capital, investment in China, contribution to China, etc). It is also possible that the work permit could be longer than the residence permit. Keep in mind that the standard is one year with some exceptions for long term ones. There is no specific law regarding a certain number of work visas in a row means that you will automatically obtain a longer one, and you could have a longer one and then on your renewal be granted a shorter one. Even if you have a long term work permit and residence permit, oftentimes, it still requires annual updates. 

7. I have a residence permit, so I can work, right?

No. Each residence permit is issued for a different purpose, such as study or work, and is only valid for its intended purpose. You would need to get a new one issued if you are planning to change the purpose of your residence. It is important to remember that the residence permit is not valid on its own.

8.  What is the difference between a Z visa/work visa and a residence permit?

These terms are often used interchangeably. A Z visa or work visa is issued by a Chinese consulate or embassy overseas to an applicant who wishes to come to for the purpose of work. Then, once you are in China and are within the first 30 days of entry, you would need to, with the help of your employer, get it converted to a residence permit which allows you to stay in China. Working is only allowed with the issuance of your work permit. Renewals are usually more straight forward and do not require you to start again from overseas. Once you have a residence permit, you are usually free to come in and out of China as you like.

Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

9.  Could I come to China on another type of visa and then get it transferred while in China without leaving?

It depends on the following:

1)  If you meet the qualifications for Class A according to the new work permit policy, then it is possible.

2)  If you are a dependant because your spouse is working or studying here or is a Chinese national, then this is possible.

3)  If you graduated with a masters degree or a PhD from a local university in a promoted field with high student standing, it is possible and it is also possible for your two years of working experience to be waved.

Local authorities do reserve the right not to agree with the above, as the above is according to the national level and could be implemented differently.

With this said, in all other situations it is illegal to apply for, enter China, and conduct your affairs for a purpose that is other than your intended purpose.

10. Could I apply for the initial “z visa” outside of my home country?

It depends. You should research the place that you wish to apply from, first. The reason is that some countries’ Chinese embassies and consulates have strict residency requirements in order to apply from that location or require you to show a long-term visa for that place to apply from there. It also could depend on your nationality too. Each embassy or consulate overseas has varying application requirements, as well. This is also not unique to China visas. For those of us working in China and need a visa for somewhere else, proof of our purpose in China is often required, too.

11. I started a WOFE (Wholly Owned Foreign Entity) in China, do I need a work visa, or could I use a business visa?

Work visa because you are working here as you have a company here and are not here for doing business such as only having meetings, conferences, etc.

12. How can I get a local criminal report from my home country?

It depends on the specific location and the local police station that you are going to. 

Some will send you a form that you have to sign and return to get the report. Others will require for the form to be notarized at your home country’s embassy or consulate in China. Some only have a form if you are allowing a friend or family member to pick it up for you. Others you have to appear in person. While others will allow a friend or relative to obtain it on your behalf without other documents. Some foreign embassies in China can issue them.

We will follow up soon with an article detailing this information along with how to obtain the proper notarizations and authentications for China.

13. I have done the medical for my residence permit at an approved clinic in China and had the result sent directly to my new employer who claims that they did not receive it.

Most of these clinics will likely only accept the solving of such issues in person because they operate in that way. This is largely because of their structure as they are state-owned.

We would suggest that you go back to the clinic to request an update and/or get another copy of the report. In the future, you should consider requesting two copies of the report and requesting that it be sent to YOU so that you are in full control of the situation.

Please note that you should have an address in Chinese characters and phone number of someone who can talk with the delivery driver in Chinese for the address that you wish to have it sent to and if you are given a choice of express mail or regular postal mail, choose express. In China, even express mail is only about 15 RMB within the same city and includes the tracking information and a guarantee that the documents will arrive in a timely fashion and not get lost.

14. What is a “Certificate of Temporary Residence” and do I need one?

All foreigners are required to register with the local police station when they either (a) enter China from overseas, (b) move to a new apartment, (c) renew their passport, (d) renew their visa.

If an individual holds a work visa, then most, not all, police stations won’t be too concerned about people not registering upon each entry, however, with other types of visas that have ‘required exits’, it is mandatory, and it must be done within 24 hours.

Most local police stations require your passport, contract copy, copy of the ownership documents, copy of the landlord’s identification card, and the landlord’s mobile number. Some other police stations have varying requirements such as requesting to see the original documents, requesting an in-person appearance by the landlord, a certified document from the management office, etc.

You should make sure that you can get the basic documents before signing a lease and providing a deposit or any rent. You should also make sure the landlord is willing to help you with his part of dealing to keep you in accordance with the law before signing a contract or giving any money.

Some police stations have an arrangement with the management company of different popular communities for a convenient or streamlined method for ex-pats.

Also, if you stay in a first-class hotel, they will do it for you, but if you are staying at a very low-class hotel, or are staying with a friend or relative, you will need to do it yourself.

You can also check our video for more details: 

15. My visa expires on (specified date). When do I need to be out of the country by?

You would need to be out by 12 midnight on (specified date). It is best not to leave it until the last moment in the event that your flight is delayed or there are some other mishaps. If you hold a non-working visa, then your time in China begins from the date of the stamp in your passport.

Questions And Answers Regarding Visas

16. I am employed by a company, but I hold a tourist visa and now that I have been working there for some time, they tell me that (a) they can’t process a work visa for me, (b) suggest that I work holding a business visa, or (c) say that I have to leave the country as part of my work visa application.

The only visa that permits you to legally work in China is  a work permit and residence permit. Residence permits for other purposes are NOT meant for working. Business visas are meant for business purposes such as meetings, conferences, factory visits, etc. 

The proper way is if you come over to China with a ‘Zvisa and then once you are here the company helps you to convert this to a residence permit. Then, this could be renewed in China after your first employment.

If you were ill-advised, then the contract that you engage in is not valid because you were working illegally. If you go to the authorities to complain about the company, you will also face consequences for working illegally. As mentioned, working illegally would include that of a business visa.

In some areas of the country such as some of the free trade zones or depending on the size of the company, etc it is also possible to convert without leaving, but the chance of that is very unlikely.

Also, the documents that are to be processed are addressed to a specific Chinese consulate or embassy overseas and cannot be redone without having the documents done all over again.

You face the best chances if applying from your home jurisdiction, and some places that are not in your home area will only let people that have a legitimate non-travel reason to be there such as work, while others are a bit more easygoing on this. If you plan to apply not from your home area, then you should research the place you wish to apply from to make sure you can apply from there without a problem.

17. I hold more than two years of work experience for a work permit, but it is not with the same employer. What shall I do?

You will need more than one experience letter. The letter must be on letterhead with your name as it appears on your passport and passport number and must certify what you did for the job and the dates of your employment. It must be a dated letter and accompanied by an original hand-signed with a typed name and title of a senior personnel. The total time should equal more than two years of post-graduation. 

In most cases, pre-graduation work will not count. It also must make sense relative to your resume, to your entry and exit history for China, and to your university graduation.

18. I overstayed past my visa expiration date, so could I just leave the country?

No. You will need a valid and legal visa to exit the country, otherwise, you will be taken for further questioning and you may not be allowed to board your flight, you may be questioned, or given further consequences. The best way to handle this is to turn yourself in and apologize. Often if it is your first time committing such a crime, while you will be punished, the punishments are lower than repeated offences.

19. I just got a new passport. How much time does it take to update my visa information and does it have to be transferred to my new passport?

In some places the entire process of updating your visa and transferring it to your new passport must be done within ten days, assuming you renewed your passport while in China, while in other places, as long as the application is in progress within the ten days, it is not a problem.

Remember that if you hold a work visa, your work permit will have to be updated before your residence permit can be updated and no matter what visa you hold, you must get a new temporary certificate of residence first.

You must retain the proof of when you picked up your passport from your embassy as the authorities may require it.

If you renew your passport overseas, you can get a visa moved overseas if it is not a residence permit, but residence permit updates and transfers can only happen within China.

Some people have mentioned they have used two passports, but this won’t always work, depending on the officer and if it does, it would only work until your passport expires, as well as for non-working visas. Once you are given a new passport, more often than not the old passport is cancelled. It is not worth the risk of it not being accepted, and if you hold a residence permit you are required to have it moved.

Under the current regulation, if you time your passport renewal with the renewal of your work permit and residence permit, it should work well to update and renew at the same time.

20. I found out that the English and Chinese of my contract has different meanings but how do I know which is true?

The Chinese contract. The binding legal language in China is Chinese. English may be provided as a convenience, but unless a situation of between two foreigners where there is no Chinese paperwork, then always the Chinese contract will prevail.

Source: Julian via Kudosbay酷豆湾

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