[Review] Updates on the New Foreign Employee Work Authorisation Policy

Published on 2016-11-16

On 11 November, the Chamber welcomed Becky Xia, Partner at Fragomen, to provide a detailed introduction into the Foreign Expert Bureau’s Foreign Employee Work Authorisation Pilot Scheme Policy (the Policy) to members.


Due to be implemented across China in April 2017, the 86 page Policy reshapes the application process for foreigners seeking to work in China. By addressing its functioning and impact, Becky provided members with a coherent breakdown of the Policy.

Overview of the changes

Becky opened the session by providing an overview of the Policy’s key aspects. The most immediate change that applicants and companies now benefit from is the solely online application format. The streamlined process is expected to allow for increased transparency and consistency. The consequence of the new individual-specific format is that members should expect waiting times to increase.

As Becky continued, another fundamental change highlighted that companies and applicants will now benefit from is the ability to appeal a decision if an application is rejected. The Policy continues to transforms the application process by grouping applications into three separate talent categories. Whilst much of the application has significantly changed, the 8 current visa categories will remain unchanged.

Talent Category: A

With category ‘A’ being the highest priority band, Becky explained the various benefits that those applying under this band include no limitations on the number of work authorisations offered and the ability to submit pending documents later in the application process.

Becky then provided insights into those applicants that would fall under category ‘A’, such as individuals working at a senior level for a Fortune 500 company or those studying for a PhD. Individuals falling into band ‘A’ are required to meet the 85-point benchmark.

Talent Category: B

Referring to talent category ‘B’, Becky explained that those seeking to apply under this band must meet the minimum 60 points. In contrast to band ‘A’, a quota based on external factors, such as market demand, will be applied to band ‘B’. Key requirements include high educational qualifications (e.g. a Master’s Degree), applying for a specific role, and a minimum of 2 years work experience.

Individuals applying for band ‘B’ benefit from the flexibility permitted. Becky highlighted the flexible 2-year work experience requirement if the applicant holds a Master’s Degree as one such example.

Talent Category: C

As the final category, the ‘C’ band is likely to be the most common application category for companies seeking to hire foreign employees. Those that fall under this category include interns, domestic staff accompanying high-talent employees and seasonal employees applying for specific roles. Similar to the ‘B’ category, the ‘C’ band will also have an imposed quota.


Concluding the session, Becky shared with members key recommendations on how they can best prepare for the changes. The first recommendation encouraged companies to set up an online account with the Foreign Expert Bureau in order to familiarise themselves with the application process and required documents.

Becky then suggested that companies should assess the eligibility of their incoming employees against the required standard. The final key recommendation was that companies should design inbound immigration programmes to prepare for the implementation of the Policy.