Reply To: Guide to Getting your Z-Visa / Work & Residence Permit

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Given the recent upheaval and turmoil in the whole visa process, many folks are considering getting more legal. For those who have the option of getting sponsored as an employee by a local company and such, OR those who will now get hired by small to mid-sized companies as expats, you may find yourselves in the predicament of having to walk through the entire Work Visa process yourself. Having joined a local start-up as a consultant, and then as an employee, I had the distinct “pleasure” of going through the process this past year and now seems a good time to share what I know and put together a step by step manual. Please be advised that everything is subject to change here so contact the relevant authorities to confirm. This will be a guideline of sorts, and based on the newest info I have as of April 20019, it seems to still be accurate.

The general application process for getting “legal”, to work and live in China as a working employee in Shanghai is a multi-step process that involves various governmental organizations. Bureaucracy at its finest. The following is a basic step-by-step narrative of what one needs to do to get a proper Work Permit and Residence permit. This starts with the company getting approval to hire you, the foreigner, and then getting all info together to get you your Z visa to then come back and finish the process to get you your work permit and residence permit. ☺ This article assumes your employer is NOT one that is capitalized over 3 million USD OR that you are NOT being hired as a GM or Vice GM.

Follow up:

1) Work License

Officially, it is the Company that wants to hire you that applies to the government to allow them to hire a foreigner. This application is submitted with the Shanghai Labor Social Security Bureau. You can call 12333 to confirm location and more info, as the old location was 865 Zhong Shan S Rd on the First Floor, but I believe this process is now handled at the new Labour Bureau’s Foreigner Service Office at 258 WuSong Rd., 2nd floor. (ph 63099595)

When applying, you will need to provide the following documents:

1. Your resume or C.V. in Chinese and English – (add company seal)

2. A copy of your Passport

3. A copy of the company business license (should have company seal )

4. A copy of the organization code certificate (should have company seal)

4**. A copy of the permit for foreign investment enterprise (if your company is a WOFE)

5. Qualification Documents like your Diploma or other Professional Certification or Reference letters from your former company

The application must be filled out TWICE as they need TWO copies. Make sure to check before you go submit the forms as it MAY require a company seal. This application process takes 5 days (Cost was 10 rmb I think) the Work License is a laminated green 2-sided certificate with basic info about you and the company hiring you.

2) Invitation Letter for application for Z visa

Your hiring company cannot invite you legally without the authority of the government. Thus the company needs to apply to the Foreign Economic Relation & Trade Commission Office (N0.55 Lou Shan Guan Rd. 11th floor ph- 62752200-265) to ask them to issue an invitation notice that will get recognized by the China Embassy or Consulate in your home country to issue you a Z Visa to return and complete your employment formalities. When applying for the Invitation letter, the following documents will be needed: 

1. Work license (Original and copy)

2. A copy of your Passport

3. A copy of the company business license (should have company-seal )

Process takes 3 days (Cost was 20 RM:cool: the invitation letter is just an A-4 paper form with relevant stamps on it. DO NOT LOSE THIS!

** Please note that companies incorporated in the Pudong New District do NOT go to the Foreign Relation office and instead go to the Pudong District Services office at #2 HeHuan Rd in Pudong where on the first floor there is a counter that handles these applications. Same required documents apply. (more info call: 68542222-88106 58788388-64105)

3) LEAVE TO HOME COUNTRY to go apply for Z visa

After you have the invitation in hand, you need to exit China and then apply for a Z-visa in your home country at your respective China Consulate or Embassy. In the past, the Hong Kong Visa Authority office was an acceptable destination for processing Z-visas, but given the recent turmoil, some applicants have been rejected or turned away so your best bet will be to go to your home country for best results. You will need to bring:

1. Your Passport

2. A copy of the Invitation letter

3. The original invitation letter

4. 2 Passport Photos

And of course you must complete a Visa Application. Visa costs vary as these costs are reciprocal with your home country. US fees are highest at $130 at time of this writing. The Z-Visa is just a standard Visa insert into your Passport.

4) Medical exam- can be done prior to leaving or after return but best to do before for sake of timeliness (Med Clinic in Hong Qiao )
 The Examination Clinic is located at 15 Jin Bang Rd near Hami Rd. It is a very professional and efficient facility.

Call 021-62688851 or 62683088 to make an appointment first. They will schedule appt. Then bring the following:

1. Your Passport

2. A copy of your Passport

3. A copy of the company business license (should have company seal )

4. 3 Passport Photos

They will have you complete a form there before the examination, then they will take a digital photo of you and enter in the info you supplied. The examination itself is about 12 different stations ranging from x-rays, blood draws, to ultrasounds and standard Blood Pressure checks. This examination process takes about an hour.

The final report and Health Certification is available in 4 work days. Bring 702 RMB + 40 if you want the report delivered via courier. The Health Certificate is just a stamped certification paper on standard A-4 paper so DO NOT LOSE IT!

5) Temporary Residence Registration

Upon your return to Shanghai, MAKE SURE you go get a new Temporary Residence Registration Form “Pink Slip “ within 24 hours if at all possible (local PS:cool:
 Late registration MAY result in fines up to 500 RMB.

6) Apply for Work Permit


With your Z visa Entry and Health check out of the way, you have 30 days to complete the rest of the process. Despite the “000” listed on your validity on the Z-visa, if you do not complete the process in 30 days, the PSB WILL fine you up to 500 RMB PER DAY that you exceed that period so time is of the essence. The next step is to actually get permission to work here in China. The Work Permit is what you are applying for next. To do this, we again need to go to the Labor Dept at 258 WuSong Rd. , 2nd Floor. This time, the required documents are:

1. Passport with valid Z visa

2. 2 copies of the Work Permit Application including required Company Seal

3. Work license

4. A copy of your Health Certificate

5. A copy of your labor contract (this contract only needs to be a simple form listing title (must match original Work License application, and term of employment)

6. A copy of the company business license

7. A copy of the organization code certificate

7**. A copy of the permit for foreign investment enterprise (if your company is a WOFE)

8. 3 Passport photos

Fee: RMB 10

It takes about 3 working days to get your Alien Work Permit, a little red booklet with your photo and employer information inside.

7) Apply for Residence Permit

Once the Work Permit is in hand, you must then go to the PSB’s Entry Exit Bureau at 1500 Min Sheng Rd. in Pudong, to apply for a Residence permit. Bring the following information to apply:

1. A Completed Visa Application form WITH COMPANY SEAL

1. Your Work Permit

2. Your Health Certificate

3. Your Pink Temporary residence registration

4. A copy of the business license (** this is where they MAY ask for the ORIGINAL Document)

5. A copy of the organization code certificate

5**. A copy of the permit for foreign investment enterprise (if your company is a WOFE)

6. Employment registration form

7. Passport

8. 1 Passport photos

The residence permit costs RMB 400 for 1 year or less, and 800 for more than 1 year. It will take 5 working days to get the Residence Visa. You can ask the service counter behind the restrooms area near the waiting room to courier your application, which will save you a trip out. Cost is usually around 30 RMB.

*ADDED* please note- the PSB MAY ask you to present a letter of introduction introducing you as an incoming employee asking the PSB to please help you complete the application process. Signed and stamped by company. Not everyone gets asked for this. But it MAY get asked for so best to ask for one just in case.

I hope this information is helpful. Most large companies will probably hire someone to do this process or even handle it in-house. BUT, smaller and local companies who will more and more, be hiring expats, will likely be handling this on their own so even if you do not need to do this all yourself like I did, you can at least use this as a reference.

Good luck.


Here is the summary of what you will need along the way- consolidated:

1 copy of resume with translation, both chopped by company,

5 copies (chopped) of the company’s Biz License (and one instance you will need to show ACTUAL document)

3 copies of the company’s Org Code Certificate

5 copies of your passport

7 Passport Pics

1 copy of your diploma with translation (and chopped by company)

2 copies of Work License after you get it
 both instances you will need to show or submit the original

2 copies of the Health Certificate you get from the med exam

1 copy of Z visa

1 copy of labor contract

1copy of work permit

1 an updated Registration Form Of Temporary Residence(Pink Slip)

Appendix 2

List of needed documents for applying for Residence for family:

1. Your Passport and copy of your Residence Permit

2. A copy of your Marriage Certificate

3. A copy of your child(ren)’s Birth Certificate listing you as a parent

4. Your family members’ passport(s) with valid visa(s)

5. An Updated Registration Form Of Temporary Residence(Pink Slip)

6. A Health Certificate for adult member

7. 2 Passport-sized photographs for each member

8. A copy of the company Business License

9. A copy of the company Organization Code Certificate

10. ** Just added ** A Letter of Application on Company letterhead confirming the employee and his/her position in the company, relation to the family applicants, and request to allow additional Residence permits to be issued for family members.

These documents with a STAMPED application (for each member of family) for Residence permit(s) are to be submitted to the Entry Exit Bureau at 1500 Min SHeng Rd (Pudong)