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This Is What's Up With Visa and Work Permits During the Outbreak

By Feb 23, 2020 Business
As life stands still in Shanghai, what to do if the clock keeps ticking on your work permit, residence permit or visa? What if you aren’t in Shanghai to renew these? It will work out: work permits can be renewed online and you can enter the country on a different visa if your residence permit expires. The Entry-Exit Bureau is accommodating for these special times. Here’s what to do.


There are two main documents: work permits (the most important) and residence permits.

The renewal process hasn’t changed. You will still need a new work contract, a copy of your passport information page, residence permit and blue work permit card which your company can submit online. Individuals can’t do this by themselves.

What’s different is that, according to Regina Shen, a visa consultant at AnyHelper, during coronavirus times the original documents don’t need to be submitted to the Labor Bureau. Instead you submit a letter saying the information is accurate, and have your company stamp and upload the letter at the same time as the other information. The processing takes 3-5 work days. Once completed, the QR code on your permit will direct anyone who scans it to your updated information.

Also different: you used to need 30 days or more left on a work permit to use the online service. Now you can do it right up until the day before expiry, says Shen. If the work permit expires, however, you’ll have to apply all over again.


The Entry-Exit Bureau is open as normal. Residence permits still need to be renewed in person. If your permit is expiring soon, you can apply for a one-month now two-month stay while you get the rest of your stuff together.

If, for some reason, you are delayed by travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, the Bureau has said:

“According to the law and due to the current epidemic, foreigners who are not able to leave the border in time or renew their visas or residential permits, immigration management authorities may mitigate or waive overdue penalties.”

If your residence permit expires while abroad, you can enter China on a different visa, like a tourist visa, and then change to a residence permit, as long as you have a valid work permit, says Shen.


For student visas, tourist visas and business visas, the rules are similar to residence permits. You can apply for a 30-day visa extension in person at the Entry-Exit Bureau. These extensions have always been around, but Shen says they are especially easy to get now. There is also, apparently, some leniency for overstays related to the coronavirus.


In China, a change in residence means re-registering at the local police station and getting a Registration Form of Temporary Residence. This can be done online and in English right here. Here’s how you do that.



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