FAQs format about the new immigration Law (effective from July 1, 2013)
Q. Why a new immigration Law?
A. The new “Exit-Entry Administration Law” is enacted to cope with the rising trend of immigration and to target new problems and situations faced by the Exit-Entry Administration.
The new law integrates and improves upon the two already existing laws (the PRC Law on the Control of the Exit and Entry of Citizens and the PRC Law on the Control of the Exit and Entry of Aliens), and has several new features.
Q. What are the new features of this law?
A. Under the new immigration law, effective from 1 July 2013, there will be the following new visa categories:
l The current Z work visa will be divided into Z1 (for foreign nationals working in China for more than 90 days) and Z2 (for periods of up to 90 days)
- M visa to replace the current F visa for business visitors (the current F visa will remain but will be used for non-business trips, including scientific, cultural and educational exchanges)
- R1 (long term) and R2 (short term) visas for highly skilled professionals or those whose specific skills are needed urgently in China
“Talent Introduction” Visa Category:
The law for the first time allows visas to be granted to foreign “talent,” but leaves further details to be set by agency regulations.
Q. Is it possible to determine the number of foreigners employed in China?
A. The number of foreigners employed in China rose from 74,000 in 2000 to 220,000 by the end of 2011, with many working as employees of foreign companies, teachers or representatives of foreign organizations. Still, the overall percentage of foreigners residing in China, about 0.04 percent, is tiny compared to many countries. So with the number rapidly growing, some problems are popping up, for example, there are some foreigners who entitled as “three illegal” group which means they are illegal entering, illegal residing and illegal working.
Q. How many foreigners are illegally residing in China?
A. Based on the Public Security Bureau‘s statistics, the number of unlawfully entered/stayed/ employed foreigners in China exceeded 10,000 in 1995. In 2011, the related departments discovered more than 20,000 unlawfully entered/stayed/employed foreigners in China with individuals from neighboring countries accounting for a majority of that figure.
Unlawfully employed foreigners typically enter China on an (X) student or (L) tourist visa. Foreign language education, foreign performance, labor-intensive industries have been found to have the largest proportions of unlawfully employed foreigners.
Q. How it was possible for foreigners to stay after their visa expired?
A. For at least a decade, foreigners on short-term visas have managed to live and work in China for extended periods of time by dashing to the border and renewing their temporary permits such as tourist visas repeatedly. Sometimes Chinese employers consider it a hassle to apply for work visas for their foreign workers.
Q. What is the main change in the policy for illegal immigration in China?
A. According to the authorities that the overriding policy behind the law is to create harsher punishments for foreigners who illegally enter, live, or work in China. But beyond that, the law enacts wide-ranging changes to the rules for foreigners’ visas, residence, and rights in China. The new law contains tougher provisions for illegal immigration, residence, or employment of foreigners.
A stricter visa issuance system will be adopted to prevent illegal immigration, residence, or employment of foreigners at its source. Employers or individuals should send invitation letters to foreigners according to the new law, and be responsible for the authenticity of the information in the letters. Applicants who provide fake documents or who cannot afford their stay in China will be denied a visa.
Q. In what manner the current situation is going to be changed?
A. The management of foreigners living in China will be enhanced. Foreigners’ application for residence certificates and inspection of their residence certificates will be standardized. Citizens, companies, and other organizations should report clues about foreigners who illegally enter, live, or work in China to local police departments in a timely fashion.
The new law defines illegal employment as foreign nationals working without a work or residential permit or working beyond the scope of the work permit, and foreign students working beyond the scope or time limit of their permit.
The new law specifies which agencies have the right to investigate and deport foreigners who illegally enter, live, or work in China. Police departments above the county level or exit-entry frontier inspection stations can legally question and detain foreigners suspected of illegally entering, living, or working in China.
Q. What are the sanctions for illegal staying in China?
A. Employer Sanctions:
Employers are to be fined 10,000 yuan ($1,580) for every foreigner illegally employed, up to a maximum of 100,000 yuan. Any monetary gain resulting from such employment will also be confiscated.
Illegal Working Sanctions:
The new law stipulates that foreigners should obtain the required identity and employment documents when they are working in China. Any expat caught working in China without valid employment documents could be fined between RMB5, 000 and RMB20, 000, with detention also possible in serious cases.
The new Law defines unauthorized work as including the following:
Ø Foreigners working in China without a valid work permit and residence permit, unless an exemption is obtained.
Ø Foreigners working for companies that didn’t sponsor their work permits.
Ø Foreigners working in locations other than the location where their work permit sponsor is registered.
Ø Foreign students working without authorization or beyond the scope of school-related, campus work.
Q. Are there any new requirements for obtaining the Residence Certificates?
A. Foreigners’ work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of five years. Non-work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of five years. For foreigners holding visas with a maximum stay of 180 days, the holders should hand in documents to government departments above the county level to apply for an extension seven days before the certificate expires, adding that the length of the extension should not exceed the originally permitted duration.
Q. Is it necessary to submit new document to obtain the residence certificate?
A. Foreigners applying for residence certificates must provide to the public security bureau (PSB) their fingerprints and “other biometric data.” In addition, the PSB and Ministry of Foreign Affairs may, with the State Council’s approval, promulgate regulations to collect such biometric data from persons exiting and entering the country.
Q. Does the new Law set specific punishments for Illegal Stay?
A. Foreigners who illegally stay in the country may be given a warning before being fined. In severe cases, they will be fined no more than 10,000 yuan or detained for five to 15 days.
Q. Are the powers of the Authority well defined?
A. The statute appears to give officers unbridled discretion to refuse a visa if for any reason issuance is “not suitable.” Nor is the officer required to explain to the applicant the reason for the refusal.
Q. Is it necessary to report to the authority a foreigner is employed in a Chinese entity?
A. Units or personnel employing foreigners or enrolling foreign students should report employment information to local police departments. Meanwhile, citizens are encouraged to “report clues” regarding foreigners who may be illegally living or working in China. To keep, hide illegal entry or illegal residing foreigners and assist them in escaping the check or provide them with illegal exit and entry certificates will be fined for a minimum of 2,000rmb and maximum of 10,000rmb; if the situation is more serious the person will be detained for 5 days to 15 days with fine of 5,000rmb-20,000rmb for punishment. Any monetary gain resulting from law violations will also be confiscated.
Q. What is the worse consequence for illegal stay?
A. Foreign nationals found guilty of illegal entry, illegal residence or working illegally in the country may be repatriated and will not be allowed to re-enter China for a five-year period. Foreigners who violate China’s laws and regulations and are deemed “unsuitable” to stay will be given an exit deadline to depart voluntarily. Those who commit “severe violations” that do not constitute crimes may be deported and not allowed to enter the country again for a 10-year period. The new law further states that people who assist in such illegal acts will also be punished.
The new Law defines overstays as including the following:
Ø Foreigners who stay in China beyond the allowed duration of stay indicated on their visa or residence permit.
Ø Foreigners who entered China with a visa waiver and stay beyond the allowed duration of stay.
Ø Foreigners who travel or stay outside areas where they are allowed to travel or stay.
Q. Does exist a Green Cards system under the new regime introduced by the new Law?
A. The law enshrines the current practice of granting permanent residence to foreigners. But the law remains at the highest level of generality, allowing permanent residence to be granted to foreigners who make “outstanding contributions” to China or “otherwise meet the requirements” for permanent residence as set by agency regulations. The law sets no targets or quotas for the number of green cards to be granted. By the end of 2011, just 4,752 foreigners had been granted green cards nationwide.
Q. Are there any Restrictions on Residence and Work Locations for Foreigners?
A. The Public Security Bureau and national security organs may restrict foreigners and foreign entities from establishing residences or workplaces in certain locations, if required for national security or public security. If already established, they may be given deadlines to relocate.
Q. When “body Searches” are permitted?
A. Exit-Entry Frontier Inspection Stations may perform body searches of persons exiting or entering China, in accordance with needs for national security and for preserving an orderly exit-entry process. Body searches shall be carried out by two frontier inspectors of the same sex as the person to be searched.