Although the prospect of a foreigner working in China and the bureaucracy concerning such an action is formidable, it is possible and common for foreign workers to work legally in China. Firstly, a prospective employee must have no criminal record, be at least 18 years old and in good health, have a valid passport or other travel document, a clearly defined employer and the necessary professional skills required for the applied position. Unless the foreigner is working in an embassy, consulate, with the United Nations or other similar international organisations, in which case these formalities are not necessary, a foreigner will have to go through extensive paperwork and different state levels of bureaucracy.
The position that the foreigner is applying to fill must be of a special need, one that cannot be satisfied by the domestic labour force. Once a suitable employer is defined, he or she will fill out the Application Form for the Employment of Foreigners, and submit this to the competent trade authorities of the specified region together with the employee’s C.V., a letter of intention of employment, the report of reasons for the employment, the credentials of the prospective employee, a health certificate of the employee and any other relevant documents required by regulations. The trade authorities will then examine the said documents and approve the application.
Within 15 days after the employee enters China, the employer and the employee should go to the Certificate Office, with the employment license, a labour contract (maximum five years long), and the foreigner’s passport to fill out the Foreigner Employment Registration Form and receive an employment permit. This employment permit authorises the foreigner to work only in the area specified and to apply for a residence permit.
Once the employee has begun working, every year there is an annual inspection of the employment permit. If the deadline is passed without the proper inspection, the employment permit is immediately revoked. If the foreigner’s residence status is revoked due to violation of Chinese law or if the contract is terminated, the employment permit is also revoked.
A foreigner employed in China enjoys the same privileges as a China-born employee. This means at least a minimum wage, with working hours, hygienic standards, rest and vacation provisions all in accordance with the state standards. However, the freedom of a Chinese employee allows him or her to look for a job anywhere desirable, whereas a foreign employee must continue working within the specified area with the same employer. Any changes in the foreigner’s working situation may subject the Employment permit to being revoked.