The Winding Road to a Chinese Work Permit: Are you Clear about the Process?
The process starts with your future employer in China. The HR department will make an application to the local bureau of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) 外国专家局. Your employer will have to submit a long list of documents, partly about the company and partly about you as the future employee. The documents you have to supply to your employer include, inter alia: your CV, reference letters or other proof of your previous work experience, a copy of your passport, passport pictures, police clearance, your highest university diploma and other documents as specified. Different requirements apply as to whether the documents need to be translated into Chinese and/or be legalized. Upon successful application, your future employer will send you the following document:
Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit in the People’s Republic of China (Work Permit Notification) 中华人民共和国外国人工作许可通知
With your Work Permit Notification in hand you can start preparing for your visa application. If you want to work in China, you will need to apply for a Z Visa. The application is normally done in your home country, or your country of permanent residence. The application is submitted through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center 中国签证申请服务中心 or directly through the Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country.
Upon successfully applying for a Z Visa, you may enter China within the designated timeframe stated on your visa. Within 30 days of arrival in the PR China, you need to apply for a Residence Permit (Work Purpose) 外国人居留许可 （居留事由工作） at the local Exit-Entry Bureau 出入境管理局。
If you are already in China at the time of application, you might be able to apply for a (temporary) residence permit directly without leaving the PR China.
Your employer will help you apply for your final work permit with SAFEA.