Introducing laws and regulations on living, working and doing business in China
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Please refer to the recent announcements on March 28 and September 28 regarding the types of foreigners allowed to enter China and the specific details. Please also refer to our relating articles on this topic with common FAQs.
A frequent question recently has been about obtaining a "PU Invitation Letter," required for a related visa to come to China. Unless, in some circumstances, the employer can renew a work permit for an employee before its expiry. If this is done, and you have a multi-year residence permit, then the residence permit will not become invalidated. It is becoming more common for foreigners to have one to two year work permits but residence permits that are as long as five years. You can often obtain a visa without this invitation letter. If you hold a valid residence permit for work, private affairs, or family reunion you may be allowed to re-enter. A Chinese Green has not been affected since the border closure. We want to remind our readers that if your work permit has expired, then the residence permit is invalid, and the company would need to apply for a new work permit for you.
Please note that as of November 3, 2020 a growing list of Chinese consulates and embassies have announced stricter policies for issuing visas and the types of purposes that qualify for such due to lockdowns and increased spread of the virus. As of the publishing of this article, we wait for the details to be confirmed and we note to readers that such policies are always changing. We are still addressing this topic for those that need to obtain such an invitation letter and also as the virus becomes controlled overseas this will become more important as it will be required.
Chinese embassies or consulates overseas issues visas for those engaged in "necessary economic, trade, scientific, or technological activities, or those who need to enter China for urgent humanitarian needs."
The general process is as follows:
1. Application for the "PU Invitation Letter" at the local government, by a Chinese company
2. Issuance of "PU invitation letter" from the government, if the reason is urgent or necessary. The company should send a copy of this letter to the applicant once obtained
3. Application for the related visa at the Chinese embassy or consulate. There may be limited hours, required your local Chinese consulate or embassy may not even issue appointments or this visa, so it is best to check the procedures, required documents, etc
4. Issuance of related visa and entry to China
Procedures regarding required COVID tests and quarantine are often changing, and there are many unknowns.
Obtaining the "PU Invitation Letter" issued by the Chinese government:
A sample of the PU Invitation Letter
* Requires a company registered in China to help you to apply.
1. Confirm the company's registration place - (e.g., district of the city of registration) because the application needs to be at the local government.
2. Contact the Commission Committee or service center of the district depending on the company’s registered location for the specific required documents.
3. After receiving the required documents, the Commission of Commerce or service center will review the application. If any required changes, someone will contact the company. If all of the documents are okay, then it will proceed to the next step.
4. The Commission of Commerce or service center will then report this matter to the district level Foreign Affairs Office for review and, if approved then will proceed to the next step
5. Then, the district level Foreign affairs office will report the matter to the Municipal Foreign Affairs Office for final review and approval.
Required documents for "PU Invitation Letter" application:
1. Application letter by the company should specify the necessity and urgency of invitation, including applicant personal details, duration requested, and relationship with the company, and include any dependents. Usually, high technical, high management, or essential business people have a greater chance of success: a maximum of 180 days but the final result between 30 and 180 days determined by the government.
2. Application form, including where the applicant will apply for the visa and a maximum stay requested. The place of visa application is unchangeable, and the applicant can only apply there. Remember that some countries follow local jurisdiction (e.g., depending on the state where you are legally residing in the US depends on the consulate or embassy in the US you can apply to).
3. Passport copy information page.
4. Commitment letter prepared by the company which ensures the applicant will abide by the Chinese law and quarantine procedures.
5. Schedule of the foreign applicant after arrival. This must match with the purpose and reason in the application and must be detailed.
6. Some cities may require a "close circle plan." Usually required if foreigners are trying to avoid the central quarantine. After a "PU Invitation Letter" is issued, one cannot apply for this. It is a strict plan to ensure the quarantine procedures are followed and detailed and approved by related Chinese government authority that deals with the quarantine and epidemic procedures. Some cities required this document even if the applicant plans to participate in the central quarantine procedures.
Please note that this information source also presented so-called "investment options" for returning to China during the epidemic. They were trying to sell their services for company incorporation, and much information is not up to date. They did not discuss actual investment types or amounts of money and related procedures. Their claim of the number of employees for each type of company is not explicitly stated in the law as the government is trying to avoid "stuffing" companies with employees that are not working there. The time it takes to establish a company are out of date. Please see our related article that discusses this topic.
Note: you do not need to be in China to establish the company and obtain a work permit. You should give careful consideration before registering a company because there are procedures required to shut down a company in China. Unlike in other places, you cannot just "walk away." You could establish a company and obtain a work permit. Then, once you are in China, obtain the related residence permit, and complete the final procedures, but this means you will not work full time for another company. If you change your work permit and residence permit to another employer, SAFEA or the PSB will question your company due to not legally being able to work for more than one employer. The "PU Invitation Letter" would still be required for entry.
If you are looking for more tips on personal issues living in China, please follow us in our WeChat Groups (China law for personal issues) to receive the latest news. We will add you into our groups if you would like to ask the authors specific questions or concerns.
Julian is based in Shanghai but often travels for work and runs a company that works with individuals and organizations doing business between the US, China, and Africa. He has been based in China for a number of years.
Ikky is an R&D Manager working in Shanghai. He has been living in China for over 11 years.
Jatin (known by the nickname “Prince Jatin”) is a Multicloud DevOps Expert working in Shanghai. He has been living in China for over Nine years and owns four Indian communities WeChat groups known for "Helping Indians by Indians" with their specific inquiries regarding China affairs, he is also an active contributor to few other expat communities with expat work affairs based his knowledge and research expertise.