Can foreign nationals apply for a work visa directly if they want to work in China after entering without a visa?

On November 24th, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mao Ning, announced that in order to facilitate high-quality development and high-level opening up of personnel exchanges between China and foreign countries, China has decided to pilot the expansion of the scope of unilateral visa free countries and implement a unilateral visa free policy for ordinary passport holders from six countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. During the period from December 1, 2023 to November 30, 2024, individuals holding ordinary passports from the aforementioned countries who come to China for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, and transit for no more than 15 days are eligible for visa free entry.
Many foreigners have asked us about this, and if we find a suitable job position in China in the future, can we directly apply for a work visa in China?


It is understood that if foreign nationals apply for a visa to stay in China through normal means and the visa is valid, they can apply for a work visa directly in China. However, if they enter China without a visa or if the visa has expired, they must reapply for Z Visa entry. Below, we will also share relevant processing instructions for foreign nationals who are applying for work visas for the first time in China.
Which foreign nationals meet the requirements for applying for a work visa and what precautions should be taken when applying for a work visa? Below, we will briefly introduce to you.
Foreigners working in China need to apply for a foreigner’s work permit+work residence permit
Article 41 of the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China stipulates that foreigners working within China shall obtain work permits and work type residence permits in accordance with regulations; No unit or individual shall hire foreigners who have not obtained work permits and work related residence permits. Article 80, Paragraph 3 of the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China: “Those who illegally employ foreigners shall be fined 10000 yuan for each person illegally employed, with a total amount not exceeding 100000 yuan; if there are illegal gains, they shall be confiscated.” In serious cases, criminal responsibility shall be pursued and borne.
Which foreigners meet the requirements for obtaining a Foreigner Work Permit?
Foreign high-end talents (Type A)

Chinese economic and social development urgently needs foreign high-end talents such as scientists, leading scientific and technological talents, international entrepreneurs, and specialized special talents. Those who meet the national key and catalog requirements for introducing foreign talents and one of the following conditions are classified as Class A, and “green channel” and “vacancy acceptance” services are implemented.
(1) Selected for domestic talent introduction plan
(2) Meet internationally recognized professional achievement recognition standards
(3) Foreign talents who meet the demand for market-oriented and encouraging positions
(4) Innovative and entrepreneurial talents
(5) Excellent young talents
(6) Points scored above 85

Foreign Professional Talents (Type B)
(1) Foreign professionals with a bachelor’s degree or above and 2 years or more of relevant work experience. Those who meet one of the following provisions:
1. Management personnel or professional technical personnel engaged in scientific research, teaching, management, and other work in special fields such as education, scientific research, news, publishing, culture, art, health, sports, etc.
2. For personnel who implement agreements between Chinese and foreign governments, international organizations, and Sino foreign economic and trade and engineering technology contracts, the age requirements for personnel dispatched by internationally renowned academic institutions and scientific and educational international organizations shall be correspondingly relaxed according to the terms of the intergovernmental exchange and cooperation agreement.
3. Hiring personnel from international organizations and representatives from overseas expert organizations stationed in China.
4. Middle level and above employees dispatched by multinational corporations, as well as the chief representative and representative of foreign enterprises stationed in China.
5. Foreign management personnel or professional technical personnel employed by various enterprises, institutions, social organizations, etc.
(2) Holding an international general vocational skills qualification certificate or urgently needed skilled talents.
(3) Foreign language teaching personnel.
(4) Foreign talents with an average wage income not less than four times the social average wage income of the previous year in the local area.
(5) Specialized personnel and project implementation personnel who comply with relevant national department regulations.
(6) Professional talents with a score of 60 points or above.
Other foreign personnel (Class C)
Other foreign personnel who meet the needs of the domestic labor market and comply with national policy regulations are classified as Class C, mainly including:
(1) foreign personnel who comply with the current regulations on foreign work management in China;
(2) Foreign personnel engaged in temporary or short-term (not exceeding 90 days) work;
(3) The personnel implementing quota system management include foreign youth who come to China for internships according to intergovernmental agreements, foreign students who meet the prescribed conditions, foreign graduates from overseas universities, and foreigners working in special fields such as ocean fishing.

Notice for Enterprises Recruiting Foreigners
Confirm whether foreign nationals meet the processing conditions
1. They should be at least 18 years old, in good health, with no criminal record, have a confirmed employer within the country, possess the necessary professional skills or corresponding knowledge level and relevant work experience to engage in their work.
2. The work I am engaged in meets the needs of China’s economic and social development, and is a urgently needed professional in China.
3. If there are other provisions in laws and regulations regarding foreigners coming to work in China, those provisions shall prevail.

List of materials required for enterprise processing
1. Copy of enterprise business license
2. Corporate identity information and contact information
3. Identity information of Chinese employees
4. Rental contract for actual office address of the company
5. Company fixed telephone number
6. Corporate tax certificate and related information

List of documents required for foreign employees
1. Personal passports of foreign employees
2. Academic certificates and certification documents
3. Certificate of No Crime and Certification Documents
4. Two years of work experience certificate
5. Health examination report
6. Temporary accommodation registration form, etc

The onboarding process for foreign employees
1. Apply for Foreigner’s Work Permit Notification
2. Entering China with a valid visa
3. Apply for the “Temporary Residence Registration Form” for your city (according to regulations, you need to go to the nearest police station within 24 hours of entering China to apply for the “Temporary Residence Registration”)
4. Go to the designated hospital of the Exit Entry Quarantine Bureau to handle the foreign employment medical examination
5. Apply for a work permit and a work residence permit for foreigners. Generally, foreigners can obtain a work permit and a work residence permit with a validity period of one year in order to legally work and pay taxes in China. Otherwise, it is considered illegal employment. The work permit and residence permit can be extended at the relevant department three month before their expiration in the following year.

Note: It is necessary to strictly follow the above procedures to avoid unclear procedures that may result in multiple applications being returned or unsuccessful processing.

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