Visa and Immigration Update | Official Measures Taken to Expedite Work Permit Approvals for Foreigners in Shanghai During COVID-19

Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Sophia Hu

Official Measures Taken to Expedite Work Permit Approvals for Foreigners in Shanghai During COVID-19

Changes instituted by municipalities will provide convenience while observing epidemic control 


Effective Date: Effective immediately

Impacted Area: Shanghai   

In an effort to provide greater convenience for foreign talent regarding resuming work and production in Shanghai – while maintaining efforts to strengthen epidemic prevention and control – the Shanghai Municipal Committee and the People's Government of Shanghai Municipality have announced recent changes that will expedite the work permit approval process in Shanghai during the COVID-19 epidemic period. The Shanghai R&D Public Service Platform has listed eight new measures in its recent article, Implementation of Online Approval Process for Matters Related to Foreigner’s Work Permit in Shanghai, version 2.0 Update, aimed at further improving the processing of Foreigners' Work Permits.

These Eight Measures Are:

  1. Exemption of Application Documents for High-End Foreign Talent

    When hiring high-end foreign talent in Category A in Shanghai, applicants are not restricted by age, education, and work experience. When applying for a work permit for foreign high-end talent that is over 65 years old, employers do not need to include insurance documents, insurance commitments, and third-party commitments.

  2. Shorter Time for Cancellation of Foreigners' Work Permits in China

    For foreign talent to receive employment transfers more conveniently in Shanghai, the approval time for cancellation of the Foreigner's Work Permit has been shortened from 10 working days to a maximum of 3 working days.

  3. Employment Termination Can be Done Through eDocuments

    Once an employer and its foreign talent have agreed to terminate the labor contract, as the foreign talent cannot physically sign the certificate of dissolution, documents such as an email thread, a discussion record via WeChat or a certificate of dissolution with an electronic signature will be recognized.

  4. Tax Clearance Can be Done Through eDocuments

    For high-end foreign talent in Category A who have taken the pre-commitment approach for an initial work permit application, digital documents of tax withholding and payment uploaded by the employer will be recognized. The personal income tax payment records issued by the tax department are unnecessary.

  5. Relaxing of Salary Commitments Approach

    For employers applying for extensions for their high-end foreign talent that have originally taken the pre-commitment approach: during this period, fewer documents are required (e.g. tax documents are now exempted.)

  6. No Time Restrictions when Applying for Temporal Extension of the Foreigner’s Work Permit

    In the past, applications for the temporal extension of a Foreigner’s Work Permit had to be submitted 30 days before the expiration of the permit. Employers can now submit online any time before the expiration of the permit.

  7. Automatic Extension of the Validity Period of Stay in China

    During this period, if any foreign employee’s visa or residence permit expires while he or she has not left the country, it will automatically be extended for a period designated  by the Immigration Management Department, and the foreign talent can continue to apply for a Foreigner’s Work Permit in Shanghai.

  8. Provide Service Guarantee to Support Foreign Talents to Resume Work

The human resource or talent mobility departments in all districts and organizations shall conscientiously implement measures for epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai through proactively taking care of foreign talent, promptly responding to the needs of foreign talents, and providing sufficient support to foreign employees, both at work and in their daily lives, to help resume work efficiently and safely.

Employers must take pragmatic, caring, and deliverable measures to help foreign talent address any challenges according to the actual situation in resuming work and production. During this crucial period of epidemic prevention and control, organizations must accomplish the important task of providing services to foreign talent in Shanghai, so they can continue to enjoy their time in Shanghai and make greater contributions to the city's economic and social development, as well as to support the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through its five pillars: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people exchanges.

Our Recommendations

We advise companies to work with their employees who are on assignment and intend to stay in China to not delay the Foreigner’s Work Permit renewal application as they will need to ensure the validity of their Residence Permits, which can only be extended after Work Permits are processed. Applicants should allow one to two weeks for Residence Permit extensions to be processed.

Considering the varying needs of employees as well as how quickly the COVID-19 situation could change and result in a change to these measures, SIRVA suggests that organizations work with our Immigration Consultants to obtain relevant and accurate information and/or assistance on Visa and Immigration matters in a timely manner.


For more information, please reach out to our SIRVA Immigration Specialists in China:

Beijing - Assalli Xu | T +8610-84510551 ext. 101| E

Shanghai, China - Sophia Hu | T +8621-63323322 ext. 206 | E


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