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Over 1 million visas

China Daily

The US-China relationship has undergone a remarkable deepening in recent years. More and more Chinese and Americans are doing business together, attending universities and enrolling in study abroad programs in each country, and enhancing mutual understanding through civil society exchanges and tourism. Chinese are now traveling to the United States in record numbers, a prospect that we support and welcome.

In the one-year period from October 2010 to September 2011, United States consular officers adjudicated a record-breaking 1 million visas in China - an increase of more than 34 percent compared to last year, and double the number of visas adjudicated just five years ago. During the last year, over 160,000 student visas were issued to Chinese citizens to study at US colleges and universities, and today 18 percent of all foreign students in the US are from China. Nearly 90 percent of all Chinese nationals who apply for a visa are issued upon application.

Ambassador Gary Locke has committed to make the visa application process in China more responsive to this increased demand. To make the process more efficient and customer-friendly and to keep the time needed to make an appointment down to a minimum, we plan on adding more than 50 new consular officer positions in China this coming year. We hope to expand and modernize consular facilities, and continue our reciprocal discussions with the Chinese government to increase the length of visa validity.

The relationship between our two countries depends greatly on the strong people-to-people ties that exist between Chinese and Americans.

Web link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-10/27/content_13984995.htm

China to make social insurance registration mandatory for most foreign workers

The People's Republic of China's (PRC) Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has announced a phased implementation of its Social Insurance System (SIS), requiring virtually all Chinese companies and overseas companies with branches and representative offices in China to enrol their expatriate workers in China's national social insurance system.

While comprehensive SIS regulations and protocols are not yet finalised, companies with assignees in China should immediately review their potential compliance requirements regarding this new regulation.

Social insurance requirement

Earlier this year, the PRC Social Insurance Law was introduced, to establish a national SIS for all PRC national employees. On 6 September, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued the Interim Measures for Participation in Social Insurance System by Foreigners Employed in China (Interim Measures), scheduled for implementation on 15 October.

Under the Interim Measures, Chinese and overseas employers will be required to enrol all PRC and expatriate employees into social insurance that is comprised of five insurance programmes: Pension; Medical; Work-related injury; Unemployment; Maternity leave.

What's changed?

The SIS's Interim Measures will require that all foreign workers be included in the national insurance programme.

Prior to these measures, foreign workers were not required to participate in China's social insurance system and remained covered under the company's collective or the foreign worker's private insurance plans.

Defining a 'foreigner'

The measures define a 'foreigner' as a non-Chinese national legally employed to work in China in one of the following Work Permit categories: A Permanent Resident; Foreign Expert Certificate; Employment Licence; Overseas Correspondent/Journalist; Overseas Representative Office worker, including Chief Representative Officer; Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan national workers.

In addition to holding work authorisation, a 'foreigner' must also possess a valid Residence Permit.

What remains unclear in the Interim Measures' definition is whether foreign workers sponsored by a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) or Joint Venture (JV) are also required to be registered for social insurance.

Labour Bureaus to inform SIS of new foreign workers

The SIS will require that all municipal and provincial Labour Bureaus notify their local social insurance agencies of new foreign worker applications submitted to the Labour Bureau.

In addition, the SIS may perform random checks of employers, to ensure that all foreign workers required to register are appropriately registered. For instance, nationals of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan working in the PRC without a work permit will be required to obtain a work permit and join the SIS.

Action items for employers

As stated above, while implementation at the municipal and provincial levels may take some time, companies with existing and new assignees in China should immediately review with their global mobility providers their potential compliance requirements with SIS regulations.

At this time, [companies have] been advised that this change will not impact the filing of any initial PRC work and residence permit applications. However, as the Labour Bureaus are to share existing and newly-filed work permit application information with the social insurance agencies, it is recommended that companies take a census of all existing and new assignees, to determine local SIS enrolment requirements, and notify assignees of potential changes to their overall compensation packages.

In addition, under the Interim Measures, foreign workers must be registered with their local social insurance agency within 30 days of commencing employment in China. Once registered, foreign workers will receive a social insurance number and an insurance card.

Companies are also urged to review with their international compensation and benefits administrators the issues regarding entitlements under Chinese social insurance, the impact on including social insurance payments in an expatriate's compensation package, and the overall potential cost to the company's expatriate programme within China.

Failure to comply with these new measures could result in civil penalties for the sponsoring employer.

Web link:

Immigration Bureau deports 4 wanted Taiwanese

Four Taiwanese wanted in their country for illegal gambling and organized crime activities have been deported by the Bureau of Immigration aboard China Airlines flight to Taipei, the BI said on Friday.

The Taiwanese, Chang Che-Wei, Yeh Ching-Shun, Chen Po-Hua, and Yen Jung Wu, are subjects of outstanding arrest warrants issued by various prosecutor¡¯s offices in Taiwan, according to BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr.

The passports of the deportees had been canceled by the Taiwanese government, thus they were undocumented aliens and were subjects for summary deportation, he said.

According to David, three of the four deportees were among the 26 Taiwanese arrested by joint operatives of the BI and the National Bureau of Investigation in the cities of Mandaluyong and San Juan last Sept. 27.

¡°They were picked up at their safe houses after informants tipped authorities off of the aliens' alleged

involvement in internet and credit card fraud transactions," David said in a statement.

Arvin Santos, BI Law and Investigation Division chief, said that Chang is wanted for violating Taiwan¡¯s gambling and organized crime prevention act, while Chen has been charged with his involvement in the illegal drugs.

Santos added that Yeh is wanted for sex crime and Yen for allegedly being involved in manslaughter. The deportees were placed in the BI blacklist and banned from re-entering the Philippines.

Just recently, the BI deported 67 Chinese nationals to Beijing following their arrests last Sept. 28 by BI and NBI operatives. They are similarly wanted by Beijing authorities for involvement in Internet and credit card fraud.

Web Link: http://www8.gmanews.tv/story/236128/nation/immigration-bureau-deports-4-wanted-taiwanese

China Law News



China's legal system gets refined

China Daily

The country's top legislature is removing and modifying "a great number of" administrative and local regulations that run contradictory to the Constitution and national laws, a senior legislator said on Thursday.

"We're cleaning up a great deal of such regulations ... that implicate local interests in every provincial-level administrative region," said Xin Chunying, deputy director of the legislative affairs commission of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

She said the exact number of such regulations will be released when the job is done.

Continue reading at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-10/28/content_13991844.htm

China's top legislature to read draft amendment of Civil Procedure Law


The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, opened its bimonthly session, during which lawmakers read a draft amendment of the Civil Procedure Law for the first time.

The lawmakers will also review draft laws and amendments concerning mental health, military service and clean-production promotion in the session to run from Monday to Saturday.

The draft resolution on strengthening anti-terrorism efforts, as well as government reports on affordable housing and environmental protection, will also be submitted to the legislature.

The lawmakers will also review reports from the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on promoting justice in judicial systems during the session.

Continue reading at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-10/24/c_131209283.htm

China to increase punishment for violations of work-related illness law

China's top legislature on Monday reviewed an amendment to a law regarding occupational illnesses that sets harsher punishment for violations.

Licensing authorities for construction projects will be given criminal sanctions if their actions violate the law, according to the draft amendment to the Law on Occupational Illness Prevention and Control that was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for its second reading.

The authorities may be fired if they arbitrarily approve licenses for construction projects, the draft amendment states.

The draft amendment states employers who violate the law and do serious damage to an employee's life or health will be fined between 100,000 yuan (15,689 U.S. dollars) and 500,000 yuan. The fine's ceiling was previously set at 300,000 yuan.

Continue reading at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-10/24/c_131209735.htm

China cuts tax to boost small businesses

BEIJING - China carried out major tax cuts on Tuesday designed to benefit the nation's crisis-hit small and micro-sized firms - including street vendors - and also help curb inflation.

The value-added tax (VAT) threshold for small enterprises increased to between 5,000 yuan ($791.14) and 20,000 yuan, in terms of monthly sales revenues, from the previous threshold of 2,000 to 5,000 yuan, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on its website.

Meanwhile, the threshold for levying the business tax for small enterprises was raised to 5,000-20,000 yuan from the previous 1,000-5,000 yuan.

The new threshold is designed based on the business traits of small and micro businesses and aims to relieve their tax burden, said Bai Jingming, a researcher with the MOF.

Continue reading at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-11/01/content_14018198.htm

26 Nations Defy Europe on Airline Emissions

26 Nations Defy Europe on Airline Emissions

China, the United States and 24 other nations backed a declaration on Wednesday urging that their airlines be exempted from the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.

The move at the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations, is another challenge to environmental leadership by the European Union, which has failed in its efforts to get some of the biggest polluters in the developed world to adopt crucial parts of its agenda for tackling climate change.

The declaration said the European directive was “inconsistent with applicable international law” and that the signatory nations would work together to oppose it.

Continue reading at: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/26-nations-defy-europe-on-airline-emissions/

Lehman, Lee & Xu is a top-tier Chinese law firm specializing in corporate, commercial, intellectual property, and labor and employment matters. For further information on any issue discussed in this edition of China Immigration Lawyers Alert or for all other enquiries, please e-mail us at mail@lehmanlaw.com or visit our website at www.lehmanlaw.com.

© Lehman, Lee & Xu 2011.
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