After the new PRC exit-entry law has come into force on 1 July 2013, the State Council issued a new regulation on the administration of foreigners' exit and entry (New Regulation) on 12 July 2013 to clarify the rules relating to exit and entry, stay and residence, and employment of foreigners. The New Regulation seeks to facilitate the importation of foreign talents and further regulate foreigners' exit and entry administration.
The New Regulation has taken effect on 1 September 2013 and the existing regulation (the Implementing Rules of Administration Law on Foreigners' Exit and Entry promulgated in 1986) will be abolished at the same time.
What is new in the New Regulation?
Increasing the types of visas for foreigners from 8 to 12
The New Regulation will create four new types of visas:
M Visa will be issued to foreigners who enter China to attend business activities. The existing F visa (business visa) will be limited to foreigners who enter China for cultural exchange activities, academic research and other non-business matters,
R Visa will be issued to highly skilled foreign professionals who are in short supply in China. The New Regulation does not specify the criteria in order to qualify as "highly skilled professionals" and hopefully further guidance will be issued to clarify this,
Q Visa will be issued to individuals who enter China for family reunion or on a short-term basis to visit Chinese family members. Q visa is divided into Q1 visa for a long-term visit of over 180 days and Q2 visa for a short-term visit of 180 days or less, and
S Visa will be issued to the immediate family members (i.e., spouse, parents, minor children and in-laws) of foreigners residing in China for work or study purposes. S visa is divided into S1 visa for a long-term visit of over 180 days and S2 visa for a short-term visit of 180 days or less.
Requiring foreigners to provide biometric data for residence permit application
Under the New Regulation, foreigners may be required to provide their fingerprints or other biometric data to the Exit-entry Administration Bureau when applying for residence permits.
Requiring foreigners to attend interviews for visa applications
The New Regulation provides that foreigners will be required to attend interviews for visa applications in the following circumstances:
When applying for entry for residence
Where further information is required to verify the applicant's identity and explain reason(s) for entry
Where there is previous record of denial of entry or exit within a specified time limit, and
Any other circumstances where an interview is deemed necessary by the Exit-entry Administration Bureau.
Clarifying the circumstances which will constitute illegal residence
Under the New Regulation, the following circumstances will constitute illegal residence in China:
Staying or residing in China beyond the permitted period of stay or residence as specified in the visa or stay/residence permit
Staying in China beyond the stipulated visa-free period without applying for a stay or residence permit
Engaging in activities outside the territory permitted by the stay or residence permit, and
Any other circumstances which may be deemed by the Exit-entry Administration Bureau to constitute illegal residence.
Requiring foreign students to register with the Exit-entry Administration Bureau for work-study program/internship
Currently, foreign students will need to apply for X visas (i.e. study visas) if they want to enter China for study purposes. Under the New Regulation, if these foreign students want to participate in a work-study program or an internship off-campus, they will need to obtain approval from the relevant education institution and register with the Exit-entry Administration Bureau (which will then add the details of the program or the internship on the residence permit).
Increasing the processing time for residence permit applications to 15 working days
After the new exit-entry law came into force on 1 July 2013, the Exit-entry Administration Bureau has extended the processing time of residence permit applications from 5 to 15 working days. This indicates that the Chinese government has taken a more stringent approach when approving residence permit applications. It will affect all foreign nationals who would like to work in China, as the new law requires them to hold residence permits based on the work permits issued by the local labour bureau.
With the new exit-entry law and the New Regulation on the administration of foreigners' exit and entry, it is likely that the Chinese government will conduct extensive and stringent compliance audits when approving visa applications. For those multinational companies in China who would like to employ foreigners or foreign students, it is important to fully understand and strictly comply with the requirements under the new exit-entry law and the New Regulation.