FOREIGNERS will find it easier to get a Chinese work visa in Shanghai after the city released a series of new work visa policies to attract international talent as it works to build a global center for scientific and technological innovation.

43132461 - close-up of person hands using stamper on document with the text approved

From November 1, foreigners have only had to apply for a unified work permit as the two types of work permits for ordinary foreign employees and foreign experts will be streamlined into one. The application process will also be simplified.

The city government said implementation details are still being reviewed, but the central authorities have issued some guidelines when they announced this month the launching of a pilot scheme of unified work permit for expatriates in nine provinces and cities, including Shanghai.

Foreign workers will be classified into categories A, B and C — A for top talent, B for professional talent, C for unskilled workers or those working in the service industry.

Shanghai as China’s testing ground for innovation has begun implementing the new “Work Permit” system since April 2017. As indicated by new approach, the former “Alien Employment Permit” and “Foreign Expert Certificate”  will join to one named “Foreigner’s Work Permit” (FWP).

The new policy will separate expats who works in China into 3 classes. Class A (Talent), Class B (Specialists) and Class C (Normal). If you qualify for one of these 3 classes we can help you apply for a Chinese work visa (which is mandatory in order to work legitimately in Shanghai).

The most frequent Chinese work visa isseud is Class-A: An expat considered as High-Income earner:

Your annual income is more than 600,000RMB/year and Incoming tax assessed over 120,000RMB/year

In the event that you don’t fit the bill for the Chinese work visa Class-A work, please check if you meet the requirements for the Class-B category (the greater majority of individuals) or not:

B1. You have a Bachelor degree from a recognized university and 2 years full time related work experience after graduation.

B2. You are an accomplished Technology Worker (International certificate required) and 2 years full time related work involvement and your expected salary in China will be equivalent to or higher than 26,100 RMB/Month (Income tax receipts will be verified).

B3. You are a remote foreign language instructor in China. You have Bachelor or higher degree and 2 years full time work experience as a teacher (In the event your major is Education, Language or Teaching or if you have obtained TEFL authentication, it won’t be necessary to prove your 2 years working experience as an English tutor.

B4. Comprehensive personal skills: You score at least 60 points according to the test below:

Annual Salary paid by domestic company (Highest possible score: 20)450,000 and above20
350,000 – 449,99917
250,000 – 349,99914
150,000 – 249,99911
70,000 – 149,9998
50,000 – 69,9995
Less than 50,0000
Level of Education or International Professional Qualification Certificate (Highest possible score: 20)Doctor; Highest level International vocational qualification certificate; Senior technician or equivalent20
Master’s; technician or equivalent15
Bachelor’s; Senior Worker or equivalent10
Related work experience
(Highest possible score: 20)
One additional point for every year above 2 yearsMaximum 20
2 years5
Less than 2 years0
Annual working time in China will be?
(Highest possible score: 15)
(Unit: Month)
Above 9 months15
6 – 9 months10
3 – 6 months5
Less than 3 months0
Level of Chinese
(Highest possible score: 5)
If you are Chinese before5
Bachelor’s or Higher degree on Chinese study (Major)5
HSK 5 and above5
HSK 44
HSK 33
HSK 22
HSK 11
Age (Year)
(Highest possible score: 15)
18 – 25 years old10
26 – 45 years old15
46 – 55 years old10
56 – 60 years old5
Above 60 years old0
Globally recognized university or
experience in top 500 company
(Highest possible score: 5)
Graduated from Globally recognized high level university in the world
(Please check here for the ranking)
Work experience in Fortune Global 500 company5
You own patent or intellectual property5
Continuously work in China over 5 yearsx5

If you are not sure what Chinese work visa category you fit in please contact us.

In the event that you do not meet all requirements for the Chinese work visa Class-B, please check if you belong to any of the following Class-C situations or not:

C1. New graduate student in Shanghai: holds a bachelors degree or higher certificate (Issued by any university in Shanghai less than 1 year ago). Only for organizations enlisted in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) or the Zhang Jiang high innovation Park.

C2. You are studying in China, have a Masters or higher dimploma (Issued from any university in China and graduated inside 1-year with grades between 80/100 or B+/B). You must be employed by a company registered in Shanghai-

The practice will be applied to foreigners across the country based on experiences accumulated in the pilot province and cities when the trial ends next April.

Current work permits can still be used as long as their dates are valid.

Shanghai last year handled 8,599 applications for foreign expert work permits and 120,933 for employment licenses for foreign employees, more than any other provinces and cities, said the government.

Shanghai Chinese work visa

Another new policy announced by Shanghai allows students who graduate from local universities without work experience to find employment in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.

It is an upgraded version of a policy introduced last year to allow foreign postgraduates of local universities to work directly after graduation in the two zones without work experience.

Previously, foreigners needed to have at least two years’ work experience to apply for work and residence permits in Shanghai. By August this year, 64 foreign postgraduates have obtained work permits under the policy, said the city government.

Authorities said they are also considering expanding the policy to foreign graduates of universities outside of Shanghai.

Foreign students at local universities wishing to stay in the city are delighted at the news. “It brings foreign students real big opportunities to find a well-paid job and simultaneously continue our life here,” said Tatiana Skuratova, a Russian international relations major at Tongji University.

Chinese work visa for engineering students

“All the networking, professional skills and other aspects of life you’ve been receiving in China would be in vain if you leave the country, if you have to leave China without wanting to,” she said. “The new law is indeed a very good news. I truly believe that the regulations for people coming from abroad is becoming more flexible here.”

Skuratova said she had planned to go somewhere in Southeast Asia after graduation next year, but now she was considering staying in Shanghai.

For Colombian student David Janna, who is studying international business at East China Normal University, the reforms have brought an extra bonus to his work plan.

“I planned to pursue a master’s degree while taking internships after graduation next year to meet the requirement for work permit here,” he said. “But now I can also work in the city directly if I find a good job.”

Shanghai is not only trying to keep outstanding international talent at local universities, but also attract graduates from top universities abroad.

Another new policy allows regional headquarters of transnational companies, investment companies and foreign-funded research and development centers, which are registered in the two trade zones, to employ graduates from leading foreign universities, with or without work experience.

The new policy will also lower requirements for foreigners involved in scientific and technological innovation to obtain Shanghai Residence Card B, which enables holders to enjoy certain citizen benefits.

The city will provide extra benefits for the Chinese work visa card holders, such as exemption from housing property tax for their only residence, allowing their children aged from 3 to 12 to study at local schools and participation in a local housing provident fund, said the government.

Shanghai has been reforming its talent recruitment policies in recent years. Last year, it introduced 20 regulations, including some to help foreign workers to apply and renew required certificates conveniently. This has benefited many people since the changes took effect last year.

One eye-catching policy was to lower the threshold for permanent residence applicants, allowing expats, who have worked in the city for four consecutive years and have lived in China for at least 6 months a year to apply for the Chinese work visa providing their salaries met required levels.

By the end of June, 503 senior overseas employees and their relatives had submitted applications, eight times the number in the same period before the new policy came into effect, and 166 of those had been approved by the Ministry of Public Security.

Shanghai also canceled the 60-year-old age limit to apply or get work and residence permits for high-level foreign professionals last year. If the applicants are recognized as “foreign talent” by the authorities, they could be issued permits lasting five years. And they can also apply for a permanent residence permit after working for three years if their employers back their case.

A total of 96 foreign expats have been issued such 5-year visas, including 27 older than 60.

Most expats need to renew their Chinese work visa once a year, but from last year, they can have their permits renewed for 5 years after two previous renewals. More than 1,800 qualifying expats have applied for the 5-year permits.