My law firm does not generally handle visa/work permit matters in China as it typically is not worthwhile to pay lawyer rates for this. The other day, I got an email from a loyal reader I know, asking me how she could go to work for a new China employer, without having to relinquish her existing work permit. I told her that I did not know how to do that and asked her to report back to me if and when she found out.
This morning I got an email from her, very nicely setting out the steps one must go through to switch China employers while hanging on to a China work permit. Neither I nor anyone in my firm has confirmed that these are the right steps, but they certainly sound right to me. Here goes.
The most important factor in keeping your work permit is getting a letter of release from your current/old employer company. Technically, as long as the employee has not violated its contract, the employer company is required to provide this release letter. However, as you can imagine, people often have problems obtaining this letter when they don’t have a good relationship with the company they are leaving. I am not sure how it works, but it seems that there are ways that the company can strip you of your permit so you are left with 30 days to leave the country. Other sticky situations include companies that posses employee permits or even passports.
However, assuming there are no serious issues, the process seems relatively straightforward. I spoke with a few visa agents and they provided me with a list of documents that I needed to collect:
- A release letter from your employer;
- Transfer or cancel your employment permit;
- Your original diploma which should show a Bachelor degree or above;
- A simple CV, preferably in Chinese;
- A letter from your any of ex-employers certifying that you have more than two years working experience;
- Passport and four 2 inch white background photos;
- Residence Registration;
- The business license of your prospective (new) employer and two copies with chop;
- Application forms needs to be chopped
All of the visa agents assured me the whole process is usually very easy. I asked for quotes and one person said it would take around two and a half weeks and would cost RMB 2,500, which includes government fees, however much that may be.
This reader ended up not taking a new job because her prospective employer was not authorized to hire foreigners and, “amazingly, they didn’t check before offering the job. Apparently this happens a lot.” The reader went on to provide the following additional good advice:
The hiring company needs to get a permit as well, which must be presented together with the other documents in order for the permit transfer to succeed. Luckily, I insisted on understanding everything about the permit process before giving notice at my current company. I would strongly advise that for anyone else who is in the same position.
Makes sense. What do you think?