How to Change Your China Employer AND Keep Your Work Permit

China visas

Got an email this morning from a loyal reader setting out the steps one must go through to switch China employers while hanging on to a China work permit (Z Visa). 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:

  1. A release letter from your employer;
  2. Transfer or cancel your employment permit;
  3. Your original diploma which should show a Bachelor degree or above;
  4. A simple CV, preferably in Chinese;
  5. A letter from your any of ex-employers certifying that you have more than two years working experience;
  6. Passport and four 2 inch white background photos;
  7. Residence Registration;
  8. The business license of your prospective (new) employer and two copies with chop;
  9. Application forms needs to be chopped

What have you done to keep your China work permit/Z Visa?

116 responses to “How to Change Your China Employer AND Keep Your Work Permit”

  1. This is TOTALLY wrong. The work visa issued by the company ties the employee to that specific company who are then liable for their welfare, and can be called upon in urgent cases such as accidents and so on. Work visas are NOT transferable.

    • Work visas are not transferrable, per se. However, the official visa cancellation/transfer form calls it a transfer, which simply implies that you will immediately be applying for a new Z visa after canceling the old one.

      • i have a question, i signed the contract for a school in chonqing, and then got my work visa ready to travel to China. but another job offer came down the line and more appealing to me, and decided not to go to chongqing and go for the new job in chengdu. i talked to the chengdu school about this problem and they said not a problem and they will issue me a business visa to trvel to china then once in china change it to work visa.
        few days back, i got an email from chongqing school saying that i cant work in china because i breached the contract and may need the released letter to get a new job.
        Now i m working in chengdu on business visa and ready to go to HK to get my work visa.
        do you think i been blacklisted or everything will be fine?. School in chengdu said, i dont need the released letter because my chongqing work visa has been cancelled by business visa
        thanks for the feedback.

  2. This is TOTALLY wrong. The work visa issued by the company ties the employee to that specific company who are then liable for their welfare, and can be called upon in urgent cases such as accidents and so on. Work visas are NOT transferable.

    • Work visas are not transferrable, per se. However, the official visa cancellation/transfer form calls it a transfer, which simply implies that you will immediately be applying for a new Z visa after canceling the old one.

      • i have a question, i signed the contract for a school in chonqing, and then got my work visa ready to travel to China. but another job offer came down the line and more appealing to me, and decided not to go to chongqing and go for the new job in chengdu. i talked to the chengdu school about this problem and they said not a problem and they will issue me a business visa to trvel to china then once in china change it to work visa.
        few days back, i got an email from chongqing school saying that i cant work in china because i breached the contract and may need the released letter to get a new job.
        Now i m working in chengdu on business visa and ready to go to HK to get my work visa.
        do you think i been blacklisted or everything will be fine?. School in chengdu said, i dont need the released letter because my chongqing work visa has been cancelled by business visa
        thanks for the feedback.

  3. I wonder what you think of this. Now that you live in China and would like to stay, why not incorporate yourself as a consulting WOFE or WFOE (I never know which it is) and hire out your services through the company. Employers should like it – no hassle with employees and you take your residency through your company. You need at least RMB100,000 to do it but that remainns your money and once the company is registered it is yours to use. I have not tried it other than for myself it is was quite easy. I know quite a few foreign businessmen who have done it – just don’t know whether it would work for teachers.

  4. Jo Nesbo,
    I followed (well, my employers did anyway) the exact steps laid out in the post when switching jobs earlier this year. It is a seemless and painless process easily handled by any half way compentent HR department. Of course, everything is contingent on the former and new employer being a legitimately registered entity. The only thing I would add, which I believe I needed to do, was provide proof of proper tax payment–which is a document given at year end by the Tax Bureau thanking you for supporting the Chinese mil…err…I mean peaceful and harmonious development of China.
    You’re partially correct in your statement about the visa being tied to the company. My previous resident permit was voided and a new one linked to the new company issued by the Entry/Exit Bureau. I did not have to exit and re-enter the country; the only additional step was to re-registered my place of residence with the new residence permit.

    • soo my employer said they will not have any part of doing this as per their policy to not allow employees to transfer their work visas to a new employer.

  5. I agree with Jo (above). This is totally wrong. I have gone through this process 4 times in the last 12 years so I have a little experience. First of all, a “Z” Visa IS NOT a work permit. For whatever reason, this is a common misconception. A “Z” Visa allows a person to enter China (1 time only) with the intent of accepting a job offer. One cannot obtain a “Z” Visa without all of the supporting documentation from the employer. Once the person has entered China, the employer needs to then make application for either an Alien Employment Permit or a Foreign Expert Certificate. I have had both and the process is a bit different.
    If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employers responsibility to cancel your existing Alien Employment Permit. This rarely happens but it is cancelled upon termination of your employment de facto. It is not transferable to a new employer. Once you change employers, the law says you must again apply for a new “Z” Visa (meaning exit the country, typically to HK for application) and start the process over. Municipalities and provinces have their own view of the law and there are usually differences. I am relating my experience in Beijing and Sichuan Province. Additionally, as is usual in China, the rules change every day (almost) so no one is really an “expert.” There have been times that some of the “processes” can be “overlooked” or modified. You can read whatever you want into that.
    Regarding Marius’ post above. This might sound good on paper but in reality, it is much more difficult. As an example, to create a WOFE you must have already been in business in your home country for 5 years (I think it has been reduced to 3) and can furnish your articles of Incorporation. There are other things as well.

  6. @Jo:
    I did not read that as a transfer, she is cancelling the one from the currently employer, then with the release letter, and a new employer’s info in hand, she is going to get a new one.
    This is pretty much exactly how I did it, changing from a Tianjin based company to a Nanjing based company, it was not a problem other than being a bit tedious and time consuming.
    @Marius,
    There are firms in Shanghai that do that, and I am going to guess that Beijing and Guangzhou would also have similar firms. The going rate as advertised on their website is 15,000 RMB. I never tried them out though.

  7. @Marius, interesting approach. But you also need to consider the operating costs of having a WFOE (this is the right term), as you must have a registered address in an approved office building, annual audit and tax submission, monthly accounting etc. And when you decide to close the WFOE, the process is quite painful (really long and quite expensive). So considering that the government accepts a RMB 100k capital (not in cities like Shanghai), probably you will need to use this money for operational costs. So unless your salary is really high (usually not the case for teachers), I don’t think that it is an option for many foreigners.

  8. Jo Nesbo is (not quite) totally wrong. Sure, the Z visa you used to enter China is tied to an employer, as you need a job offer to get the Z visa. But once you have your Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and Residence Permit you can transfer to a new employer. The process as described in the original post sounds about right, except that I have no idea why you would go through a visa agent for this. Your new employer should be the one to handle this, and if, as Dan’s correspondent seems to be implying, your new employer doesn’t know how to do it, you should be looking for another job with someone who does.
    If your contract is drawing to an end and you wish to get a new job, let your current employer know (from memory, 3 months before the end of the contract) and get the release letter (离职信), then give your new employer all the necessary paper work and make sure your new employer gets your new Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and submits the application to extend your Residence Permit before your current Residence Permit expires (so far as I know, you can submit the application on the expiry date with no hassles, but one day later and you’re in trouble).
    If you wish to leave a contract early, make sure you leave on good terms, give the requisite notice, and get the release letter. Understand that if you try the “midnight run”, your current employer can blacklist you, and being blacklisted can make it difficult to get a new job, or perhaps even to leave China (your contract may well specify a fairly stiff penalty for breach of contract). Otherwise, the process is the same.
    There are situations in which it may be easier to leave China and get a whole new Z visa – for example, if your new job requires a move cross country and it’s not practical to get to your new job early enough for your new employer to get your Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and submit your application to extend your Residence Permit before your current Residence Permit expires. In Beijing it should take about a week to do the Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate, that may vary between cities and provinces, but if you’re moving you do want to give yourself a couple of weeks’ leeway for your new employer to get your paperwork done. Having said that, China seems to be cracking down on the Hong Kong visa run. Last time I did that – _several_years_ago_ – I got the same day service – i.e. I got into the visa office at 9am and handed over the application, went and got a coffee and did some bookshopping then picked up my visa at lunchtime. We’ve sent several teachers on the HK visa run since then and all have had to wait at least until the next work day. Last time we sent one on the visa run, just last summer, the visa office wanted to see the health check report, which previously had not been needed until we submitted the Residence Permit application.
    In any case, if you have time to get to your new job a couple of weeks before your current Residence Permit expires, there’s no need to do a visa run and it is very easy, provided you get your paperwork together, to transfer to a new job.

  9. This is extremely dubious advice I’d say steer well clear of this idea. You don’t want to get into trouble with the Chinese Police or your ex employer for being in the country on a work visa belonging to a company you stopped working for.

  10. I wonder what you think of this. Now that you live in China and would like to stay, why not incorporate yourself as a consulting WOFE or WFOE (I never know which it is) and hire out your services through the company. Employers should like it – no hassle with employees and you take your residency through your company. You need at least RMB100,000 to do it but that remainns your money and once the company is registered it is yours to use. I have not tried it other than for myself it is was quite easy. I know quite a few foreign businessmen who have done it – just don’t know whether it would work for teachers.

  11. Jo Nesbo,
    I followed (well, my employers did anyway) the exact steps laid out in the post when switching jobs earlier this year. It is a seemless and painless process easily handled by any half way compentent HR department. Of course, everything is contingent on the former and new employer being a legitimately registered entity. The only thing I would add, which I believe I needed to do, was provide proof of proper tax payment–which is a document given at year end by the Tax Bureau thanking you for supporting the Chinese mil…err…I mean peaceful and harmonious development of China.
    You’re partially correct in your statement about the visa being tied to the company. My previous resident permit was voided and a new one linked to the new company issued by the Entry/Exit Bureau. I did not have to exit and re-enter the country; the only additional step was to re-registered my place of residence with the new residence permit.

    • soo my employer said they will not have any part of doing this as per their policy to not allow employees to transfer their work visas to a new employer.

  12. I agree with Jo (above). This is totally wrong. I have gone through this process 4 times in the last 12 years so I have a little experience. First of all, a “Z” Visa IS NOT a work permit. For whatever reason, this is a common misconception. A “Z” Visa allows a person to enter China (1 time only) with the intent of accepting a job offer. One cannot obtain a “Z” Visa without all of the supporting documentation from the employer. Once the person has entered China, the employer needs to then make application for either an Alien Employment Permit or a Foreign Expert Certificate. I have had both and the process is a bit different.
    If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employers responsibility to cancel your existing Alien Employment Permit. This rarely happens but it is cancelled upon termination of your employment de facto. It is not transferable to a new employer. Once you change employers, the law says you must again apply for a new “Z” Visa (meaning exit the country, typically to HK for application) and start the process over. Municipalities and provinces have their own view of the law and there are usually differences. I am relating my experience in Beijing and Sichuan Province. Additionally, as is usual in China, the rules change every day (almost) so no one is really an “expert.” There have been times that some of the “processes” can be “overlooked” or modified. You can read whatever you want into that.
    Regarding Marius’ post above. This might sound good on paper but in reality, it is much more difficult. As an example, to create a WOFE you must have already been in business in your home country for 5 years (I think it has been reduced to 3) and can furnish your articles of Incorporation. There are other things as well.

  13. @Jo:
    I did not read that as a transfer, she is cancelling the one from the currently employer, then with the release letter, and a new employer’s info in hand, she is going to get a new one.
    This is pretty much exactly how I did it, changing from a Tianjin based company to a Nanjing based company, it was not a problem other than being a bit tedious and time consuming.
    @Marius,
    There are firms in Shanghai that do that, and I am going to guess that Beijing and Guangzhou would also have similar firms. The going rate as advertised on their website is 15,000 RMB. I never tried them out though.

  14. @Marius, interesting approach. But you also need to consider the operating costs of having a WFOE (this is the right term), as you must have a registered address in an approved office building, annual audit and tax submission, monthly accounting etc. And when you decide to close the WFOE, the process is quite painful (really long and quite expensive). So considering that the government accepts a RMB 100k capital (not in cities like Shanghai), probably you will need to use this money for operational costs. So unless your salary is really high (usually not the case for teachers), I don’t think that it is an option for many foreigners.

  15. Jo Nesbo is (not quite) totally wrong. Sure, the Z visa you used to enter China is tied to an employer, as you need a job offer to get the Z visa. But once you have your Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and Residence Permit you can transfer to a new employer. The process as described in the original post sounds about right, except that I have no idea why you would go through a visa agent for this. Your new employer should be the one to handle this, and if, as Dan’s correspondent seems to be implying, your new employer doesn’t know how to do it, you should be looking for another job with someone who does.
    If your contract is drawing to an end and you wish to get a new job, let your current employer know (from memory, 3 months before the end of the contract) and get the release letter (离职信), then give your new employer all the necessary paper work and make sure your new employer gets your new Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and submits the application to extend your Residence Permit before your current Residence Permit expires (so far as I know, you can submit the application on the expiry date with no hassles, but one day later and you’re in trouble).
    If you wish to leave a contract early, make sure you leave on good terms, give the requisite notice, and get the release letter. Understand that if you try the “midnight run”, your current employer can blacklist you, and being blacklisted can make it difficult to get a new job, or perhaps even to leave China (your contract may well specify a fairly stiff penalty for breach of contract). Otherwise, the process is the same.
    There are situations in which it may be easier to leave China and get a whole new Z visa – for example, if your new job requires a move cross country and it’s not practical to get to your new job early enough for your new employer to get your Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate and submit your application to extend your Residence Permit before your current Residence Permit expires. In Beijing it should take about a week to do the Alien Employment Permit/Foreign Expert Certificate, that may vary between cities and provinces, but if you’re moving you do want to give yourself a couple of weeks’ leeway for your new employer to get your paperwork done. Having said that, China seems to be cracking down on the Hong Kong visa run. Last time I did that – _several_years_ago_ – I got the same day service – i.e. I got into the visa office at 9am and handed over the application, went and got a coffee and did some bookshopping then picked up my visa at lunchtime. We’ve sent several teachers on the HK visa run since then and all have had to wait at least until the next work day. Last time we sent one on the visa run, just last summer, the visa office wanted to see the health check report, which previously had not been needed until we submitted the Residence Permit application.
    In any case, if you have time to get to your new job a couple of weeks before your current Residence Permit expires, there’s no need to do a visa run and it is very easy, provided you get your paperwork together, to transfer to a new job.

  16. @Mark
    “If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employers responsibility to cancel your existing Alien Employment Permit. This rarely happens but it is canceled upon termination of your employment de facto. It is not transferable to a new employer. Once you change employers, the law says you must again apply for a new “Z” Visa (meaning exit the country, typically to HK for application) and start the process over.
    I am so sorry to hear that you have been inconvenienced by whomever misinformed you.
    If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employer’s responsibility to assist you in transferring your existing Alien Employment Permit to your new employer. It’s the page that says something like “changes and additions”.
    My current Permit, which was issued when I left my Shandong employer-of-record in 2009, is not with me as a I type but the danwei has been officially changed by the Hainan Provincial Employment Bureau on three separate occasions, my address has been changed once, and the certificate has been extended twice all without ever leaving the country (other than for holiday or normal business trips) or getting a new Z visa.
    The last time I had my Permit altered, the Employment Bureau official made sure that I knew I would need to bring this Permit with me and give them at least two weeks advance notice because I had filled up all of the potential places to put alterations and they would have to issue me a new permit with the same number as the old permit and this would “be a whole lot of mafan”.
    @ Mark
    “Municipalities and provinces have their own view of the law and there are usually differences. I am relating my experience in Beijing and Sichuan Province. ”
    I am relating my experience in Hebei, Hainan, Shandong and Qinghai Provinces.
    With the exception of my first job, I have had the blessing (or curse) of always being different than whatever the HR Department had previously dealt with regarding foreigners and also been more experienced than them with how to do the relevant papers. Where once the FAO took a non-Chinese-speaking me along to the offices while doing papers, later FAOs accompanied a Chinese-speaking me while I showed them what to do, and still later ones just gave me the papers and told me to come back with any receipts for money I ought to be reimbursed.
    @ Mark
    “Additionally, as is usual in China, the rules change every day (almost) so no one is really an “expert.” There have been times that some of the “processes” can be “overlooked” or modified. You can read whatever you want into that.”
    It has been my experience that the rules rarely change, it’s only the following of the rules that changes. From a very laissez faire attitude where knowing the right people means getting things done without going through all the steps, I’ve found that things have gradually tightened up to the point where even those who have quite a lot of guanxi simply cannot get many things done unless they follow the right steps. In some cases that I have been privy to but not personally involved in, the attempt to go through the back door has led to costing more money and taking more time in the end.
    Obviously, there are still instances where you can get away with it. For myself, the visa I received in Qinghai Province in 2007 absolutely should not have been issued and was only issued because I was there for a short term project working for the Provincial Government.
    It helps to be able to read the rules. It also helps to read the rules in the first place and in China, as in the United States, it is a rash assumption to presume that the person in charge is familiar with the rules they are enforcing.
    @Mark
    “Regarding Marius’ post above. This might sound good on paper but in reality, it is much more difficult. As an example, to create a WOFE you must have already been in business in your home country for 5 years (I think it has been reduced to 3) and can furnish your articles of Incorporation. There are other things as well.”
    Whoever told you this misinformation deserves to be shot.
    I am the legal representative, sole investor, and general manager of a Wholly Foreign Owned Entity. Not only was I not in business in my home country for 5 years, I also was not in business in my home country for 3 years. In fact, I wasn’t in business in my home country ever.
    Because I chose to fill out and submit all of my paperwork myself rather than pay a potentially untrustworthy Registration Agent it took me nearly 11 months from getting my Proof of Identity Statement from the State Department Office of Authentication in Washington DC to getting my paper-in-my-passport-that-looks-just-like-a-visa-and-serves-all-the-same-purposes-as-a-visa-but-is-not from the Public Security Bureau in Haikou.
    @Ethan
    “There are firms in Shanghai that do that, and I am going to guess that Beijing and Guangzhou would also have similar firms. The going rate as advertised on their website is 15,000 RMB. I never tried them out though. ”
    Few of the firms I have encountered in Hainan have given me any kind of confidence that they actually know the process for registering a WFOE. Given how tedious and time consuming my own registration was, had I been able to find someone I trusted for merely 15,000 RMB in Haikou I would have leaped at the chance. Standing in lines, I probably wasted at least 15,000 RMB worth of time. On the other hand, I now intimately understand the process and could, at least in Haikou, help some other bewildered foreign businessperson through it. Just don’t ask me to stand in line (or if you do, pay me an hourly rate to do so).
    -M

  17. This is extremely dubious advice I’d say steer well clear of this idea. You don’t want to get into trouble with the Chinese Police or your ex employer for being in the country on a work visa belonging to a company you stopped working for.

  18. I had the bad experience of having to switch working visa. My former employer didn’t want to issue a release letter and was asking me for money, more than a thousand USD. I ended having problem with my agent who refused to apply for the new visa.
    I spent quite a bit on this and here is my take out:
    1- when changing employer you have to ask your former company for cancellation of alien employment license but, if you are under good terms with them, you can keep your resident permit which allows you to stay until expiration.
    2- if your employer refused to issue your release letter, the immigration bureau told me that you have either to go to the police station or to the labor bureau and file a complain.
    3- once those steps done, the steps mentioned in your article worked for me without a problem.
    Regarding being employed by a Chinese company and not a WFOE, it seems that they need a minimum registered capital of a couple millions RMB. However, if they are not complying a solution like Fesco usually works.

    • which police station? the one you originally had a residence permit in? i can’t find information for “china labour board”

  19. I did pretty much as described above last year in Shanghai and it worked like a charm. Those who are saying this is not how it’s done, would you please state how you think it is done.

  20. I am surprised by people claiming this process doesn’t work. I went through this whole process last year and kept my permit, without all that much hassle.

  21. @Mark
    “If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employers responsibility to cancel your existing Alien Employment Permit. This rarely happens but it is canceled upon termination of your employment de facto. It is not transferable to a new employer. Once you change employers, the law says you must again apply for a new “Z” Visa (meaning exit the country, typically to HK for application) and start the process over.
    I am so sorry to hear that you have been inconvenienced by whomever misinformed you.
    If you are changing jobs in China, it is the employer’s responsibility to assist you in transferring your existing Alien Employment Permit to your new employer. It’s the page that says something like “changes and additions”.
    My current Permit, which was issued when I left my Shandong employer-of-record in 2009, is not with me as a I type but the danwei has been officially changed by the Hainan Provincial Employment Bureau on three separate occasions, my address has been changed once, and the certificate has been extended twice all without ever leaving the country (other than for holiday or normal business trips) or getting a new Z visa.
    The last time I had my Permit altered, the Employment Bureau official made sure that I knew I would need to bring this Permit with me and give them at least two weeks advance notice because I had filled up all of the potential places to put alterations and they would have to issue me a new permit with the same number as the old permit and this would “be a whole lot of mafan”.
    @ Mark
    “Municipalities and provinces have their own view of the law and there are usually differences. I am relating my experience in Beijing and Sichuan Province. ”
    I am relating my experience in Hebei, Hainan, Shandong and Qinghai Provinces.
    With the exception of my first job, I have had the blessing (or curse) of always being different than whatever the HR Department had previously dealt with regarding foreigners and also been more experienced than them with how to do the relevant papers. Where once the FAO took a non-Chinese-speaking me along to the offices while doing papers, later FAOs accompanied a Chinese-speaking me while I showed them what to do, and still later ones just gave me the papers and told me to come back with any receipts for money I ought to be reimbursed.
    @ Mark
    “Additionally, as is usual in China, the rules change every day (almost) so no one is really an “expert.” There have been times that some of the “processes” can be “overlooked” or modified. You can read whatever you want into that.”
    It has been my experience that the rules rarely change, it’s only the following of the rules that changes. From a very laissez faire attitude where knowing the right people means getting things done without going through all the steps, I’ve found that things have gradually tightened up to the point where even those who have quite a lot of guanxi simply cannot get many things done unless they follow the right steps. In some cases that I have been privy to but not personally involved in, the attempt to go through the back door has led to costing more money and taking more time in the end.
    Obviously, there are still instances where you can get away with it. For myself, the visa I received in Qinghai Province in 2007 absolutely should not have been issued and was only issued because I was there for a short term project working for the Provincial Government.
    It helps to be able to read the rules. It also helps to read the rules in the first place and in China, as in the United States, it is a rash assumption to presume that the person in charge is familiar with the rules they are enforcing.
    @Mark
    “Regarding Marius’ post above. This might sound good on paper but in reality, it is much more difficult. As an example, to create a WOFE you must have already been in business in your home country for 5 years (I think it has been reduced to 3) and can furnish your articles of Incorporation. There are other things as well.”
    Whoever told you this misinformation deserves to be shot.
    I am the legal representative, sole investor, and general manager of a Wholly Foreign Owned Entity. Not only was I not in business in my home country for 5 years, I also was not in business in my home country for 3 years. In fact, I wasn’t in business in my home country ever.
    Because I chose to fill out and submit all of my paperwork myself rather than pay a potentially untrustworthy Registration Agent it took me nearly 11 months from getting my Proof of Identity Statement from the State Department Office of Authentication in Washington DC to getting my paper-in-my-passport-that-looks-just-like-a-visa-and-serves-all-the-same-purposes-as-a-visa-but-is-not from the Public Security Bureau in Haikou.
    @Ethan
    “There are firms in Shanghai that do that, and I am going to guess that Beijing and Guangzhou would also have similar firms. The going rate as advertised on their website is 15,000 RMB. I never tried them out though. ”
    Few of the firms I have encountered in Hainan have given me any kind of confidence that they actually know the process for registering a WFOE. Given how tedious and time consuming my own registration was, had I been able to find someone I trusted for merely 15,000 RMB in Haikou I would have leaped at the chance. Standing in lines, I probably wasted at least 15,000 RMB worth of time. On the other hand, I now intimately understand the process and could, at least in Haikou, help some other bewildered foreign businessperson through it. Just don’t ask me to stand in line (or if you do, pay me an hourly rate to do so).
    -M

  22. I had the bad experience of having to switch working visa. My former employer didn’t want to issue a release letter and was asking me for money, more than a thousand USD. I ended having problem with my agent who refused to apply for the new visa.
    I spent quite a bit on this and here is my take out:
    1- when changing employer you have to ask your former company for cancellation of alien employment license but, if you are under good terms with them, you can keep your resident permit which allows you to stay until expiration.
    2- if your employer refused to issue your release letter, the immigration bureau told me that you have either to go to the police station or to the labor bureau and file a complain.
    3- once those steps done, the steps mentioned in your article worked for me without a problem.
    Regarding being employed by a Chinese company and not a WFOE, it seems that they need a minimum registered capital of a couple millions RMB. However, if they are not complying a solution like Fesco usually works.

    • which police station? the one you originally had a residence permit in? i can’t find information for “china labour board”

  23. This does work. I know because I did it myself. I join with the commenter above in asking those who say this does not work to please explain what does.

  24. I did pretty much as described above last year in Shanghai and it worked like a charm. Those who are saying this is not how it’s done, would you please state how you think it is done.

  25. This does work. I know because I did it myself. I join with the commenter above in asking those who say this does not work to please explain what does.

  26. This is good advice and it gibes with what I went through a few years ago in Shanghai, though I have heard that the nitty-gritty can vary with the city.

  27. @Mark, you don’t need to have already been in business in your home country for 3 or 5 years. You can create a company in Hong Kong that will be the parent company of the WFOE. It is cheap, easy and fast (1 week)

  28. Count me among those surprised that anybody is saying the process outlined in the post and which several of us have confirmed somehow is not the way it’s done. My first comment is based on personal experience having worked for 6 different employers and my current job involving at least once a semester walking new teachers through either the process as outlined above of shifting from one employer to another or the HK visa run. We only send people on the HK visa run when they have entered China on something other than a Z visa (F and L being the most common). This post states correctly how to legally change employers in China without needing to leave the country or obtain a new Z visa.

  29. @Mark, you don’t need to have already been in business in your home country for 3 or 5 years. You can create a company in Hong Kong that will be the parent company of the WFOE. It is cheap, easy and fast (1 week)

  30. I’ve been in China for 14 years and swtiched employers three times by doing exactly what is set out above. Those who are coming on here claiming this does not work are, to put it bluntly, speaking out of their asses. This is how it is done and I know of no other way to do it.

  31. The original procedure outlined is basically accurate, and like many others here, I’ve gone through the change of employer route many times over the years.
    Of course rules are not applied evenly across the country and many are subject to interpretation; even varying in application from district to district in the great capital.
    For my latest renewal, I’ve been asked, for the first time ever, for my original college certificates — it’s a generations since I’ve been asked to produce them, and I’d suspect there are many expats working in China who don’t even have 3rd level credentials, yet they get through.
    Beware of completing the process at this time of year as you may be asked to comply with obscure rules on entry/exit, with it appears, the sole objective being to supplement the New Year entertainment fund of some bureau, not safeguard the laws of the country or national security. My wife recently updated her passport, at the same time as she was changing her employer, but was asked to pay a fine because she did not immediately change her work visa from old passport to new passport, despite having registered new passport with authorities who themselves were unaware of this requirement. Myself, I’ve have been in/out of the country several times with the two passports (old one with visa, now labeled ‘invalid’, attached to new passport) with nary a comment from capital airport immigration officials.

  32. Sounds right to me. I would only add that it is usually a good idea to call and ask the relevant bureau before going to the submit the paper work, just in case you missed something.

  33. All to often is easier to forge a release letter. Lots of folks want to leave unhappy work situations (for whatever reasons) and just creating a release letter and make a bogus stamp is all you need! To the best of my knowledge know one has ever been caught and I know of several folks who have done this. Most employers who are unhappy with a teacher behave deplorably as they view teachers as the least important component to their operation. Denying a release letter is a common passive aggressive way of getting back at that teacher by a spiteful employer.

  34. I think someone said this practice of forging documents is “unwise” and calls into question why the new employer can’t issue a new work visa. I’d concur with that perspective. And forging documents is a strict no-no.

  35. anon: “All to often is easier to forge a release letter”
    Not recommended. If you think denying a release letter is spiteful, I know of one school that blacklisted a teacher who did a midnight run. If you try to use a forged release letter and your employer has reported you to the authorities for breach of contract, then you’re in trouble for breach of contract and forgery. If I were the authorities, I’d certainly prosecute you. A better way to cope with being denied a release letter would be to get the new employer to do your paperwork for a new Z visa and use that as an excuse to take a holiday in Hong Kong or back home or wherever.
    I’ve also never heard of an employer refusing to issue a release letter. I’ve had disagreements with past employers and they’ve all been perfectly happy to issue a release letter and not renew my contract. My current boss has done the same on numerous occasions with teachers he didn’t want to keep, even when he has strongly disliked the teacher in question. My experience is that although there are bad and spiteful employers out there, it is far more common for the employment relationship to remain polite in that cold, purely professional, tolerate-your-presence-until-your-contract-ends kind of way, it made clear that the contract will not be renewed, and a release letter to be issued.

    •   To issue a release letter is the obligation of the employer when employment contract is ended.Refusing to do so can subject to punishment by the local Labor Bureau.
        That’s the reason why most employers don’t refuse to issue the document.Not because that they are kind and polite.
        

  36. Can anyone please help, I began my current job in September 2011, when I was speaking to my agent he told me that I would only be working in the morning, but when I arrived here that was not true, basically my agent tricked me and I came to china with my husband and 1 year old son. When I found out that the agent had tricked me I told the school straight away. I said that I cannot work here. The school then begged me to work here for at least the first semester, even though this was a bit difficult for me I agreed. After working here for a few months I got used to the hours, they wernt so bad afterall and I would have stayed at this school but they now have a new teacher started from next semester. So the school knew that im leaving very soon. I have found another job but my school said they cannot provide my with a reference letter as I did not complete a whole year. If the school cancel my work permit then does that mean it cancels my residents permit? How do I go about transferring to my new employer. The school said that they will provide me with a release letter, I really need some advice. The school is in good terms with me

  37. Harriet, the release letter is the one you need to legally transfer. The reference is only for you or your new employer’s comfort, but won’t affect your legal status. If your new school wants a reference, explain the situation and you should be able to find a work around. Otherwise, collect the release letter from your old school and take that and your other documents (passport, degree, CV/resume, bucketloads of passport photos, etc) to the new school and so long as they get your paperwork handed in to the Entry/Exit Bureau of the PSB before your residence permit expires, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

  38. I am in an interesting working permit situation myself. I have been working for [Company A] in Dalian for the last year and a half, and I have found a new job as an English teacher at a school in Dalian. I followed Company A’s contract by giving them a 30-day notice that I would be leaving my position. The HR at Company A told me they would provide me with a release letter after my last working day. Also, the new school I want to work for has assured me that there would be no problem transferring my work permit from Company A to them.
    However, today Company A informed me that it would be impossible to transfer my work permit to a school, because they are not in the same working field (IT vs. education). Company A then told me that I would have to leave China entirely, get a new Z visa abroad, return to China, and get a new work permit again through my new employer. I have never heard such a thing before, and I am 90% sure that it is incorrect. I asked Company A what was the source of their information, and they told me it was their visa agent.
    I absolutely do not want to do an HK run if I don’t have to. Does anyone have any advice on this situation? Is Company A totally full of crap on this one? Is it possible to transfer my working permit from Company A to my new school without having to get a whole new Z visa?

    • What the Company A said is true.The work permit can only be modified to keep valid within the same occupation and within same geographical region(city level).Beyond that,i.e.,to work in a different occupation or in a different city,you need a totally new work permit/visa.

    • you no need to leave China..Your only job is to make sure you are in good terms with your previous employer and that they give you that demission letter with company chop, and that they don’t cancel your work permit as well as your residence permit. If you think that your previous company is a good one, tell them that you are just transferring to a new company and still in shanghai and hope that they’ll understand. Usually, they do if you tell them humbly and politely.
      by the way, this only works if you are transferring within a local region. If you are going to transfer to another city, your previous employer must give you cancellation certificate of your work permit from previous company (your previous HR will get this from a local labor bueureu) and a demission letter with company chop. Make sure that they dont cancel your residence permit though.
      Hope this works for you. 

    • Since you are changing from an IT industry to the education sector, you will have to start the process all over

  39. I am in an interesting working permit situation myself. I have been working for [Company A] in Dalian for the last year and a half, and I have found a new job as an English teacher at a school in Dalian. I followed Company A’s contract by giving them a 30-day notice that I would be leaving my position. The HR at Company A told me they would provide me with a release letter after my last working day. Also, the new school I want to work for has assured me that there would be no problem transferring my work permit from Company A to them.
    However, today Company A informed me that it would be impossible to transfer my work permit to a school, because they are not in the same working field (IT vs. education). Company A then told me that I would have to leave China entirely, get a new Z visa abroad, return to China, and get a new work permit again through my new employer. I have never heard such a thing before, and I am 90% sure that it is incorrect. I asked Company A what was the source of their information, and they told me it was their visa agent.
    I absolutely do not want to do an HK run if I don’t have to. Does anyone have any advice on this situation? Is Company A totally full of crap on this one? Is it possible to transfer my working permit from Company A to my new school without having to get a whole new Z visa?

    • What the Company A said is true.The work permit can only be modified to keep valid within the same occupation and within same geographical region(city level).Beyond that,i.e.,to work in a different occupation or in a different city,you need a totally new work permit/visa.

    • you no need to leave China..Your only job is to make sure you are in good terms with your previous employer and that they give you that demission letter with company chop, and that they don’t cancel your work permit as well as your residence permit. If you think that your previous company is a good one, tell them that you are just transferring to a new company and still in shanghai and hope that they’ll understand. Usually, they do if you tell them humbly and politely.
      by the way, this only works if you are transferring within a local region. If you are going to transfer to another city, your previous employer must give you cancellation certificate of your work permit from previous company (your previous HR will get this from a local labor bueureu) and a demission letter with company chop. Make sure that they dont cancel your residence permit though.
      Hope this works for you. 

    • Since you are changing from an IT industry to the education sector, you will have to start the process all over

  40. The case of one of my friends is different: when he accepted a job offer from his new company, he was blacklisted by his former employer for breach of contract, left the country to apply for a Z visa, came back, went through the foreign expert certificate and interview procedure but on the last step, actually applying for a residence permit, he was refused! He was told to wait for the expiration of his first contract – in 6 months – before applying again. Has it happened to anyone? This was in Shenzhen.

    • Was he blacklisted because he has breached his contract? How can a person be blacklisted by a former employer? What if you have finished your contract, surrendered your work permit to them, complied with them that you have to cancel your residence permit and change it to L visa. Is it possible that when you return to China with a Z visa, they have blacklisted you?

  41. The case of one of my friends is different: when he accepted a job offer from his new company, he was blacklisted by his former employer for breach of contract, left the country to apply for a Z visa, came back, went through the foreign expert certificate and interview procedure but on the last step, actually applying for a residence permit, he was refused! He was told to wait for the expiration of his first contract – in 6 months – before applying again. Has it happened to anyone? This was in Shenzhen.

    • Was he blacklisted because he has breached his contract? How can a person be blacklisted by a former employer? What if you have finished your contract, surrendered your work permit to them, complied with them that you have to cancel your residence permit and change it to L visa. Is it possible that when you return to China with a Z visa, they have blacklisted you?

  42. Hi, I arrived in Shanghai last year (May 2011), I resigned from my current work so I will be working with them until May 4th. My residence visa will expire on May 11. I found a new employer(They are allowed to hire foreigners). I still have my work permit with me. This is tied with the visa expiration right? I can get a release letter from my current employer but I can only get it on May 4th. In this situation, is it possible to transfer my work permit to my new employer? A friend of mine from the same employer also transferred to a new company, but that time, he still has 2 months left before his residence permit expires.  What options do I have? What problems would I face with this situation? 

  43. Hi, I arrived in Shanghai last year (May 2011), I resigned from my current work so I will be working with them until May 4th. My residence visa will expire on May 11. I found a new employer(They are allowed to hire foreigners). I still have my work permit with me. This is tied with the visa expiration right? I can get a release letter from my current employer but I can only get it on May 4th. In this situation, is it possible to transfer my work permit to my new employer? A friend of mine from the same employer also transferred to a new company, but that time, he still has 2 months left before his residence permit expires.  What options do I have? What problems would I face with this situation? 

  44. You have to have the same job tittle to renew your visa,,,,,,,just something i read,,but maybe your boss could just change job tittle
    I quit my job and left china ,,i had shit boss and he  said he would not give me a release letter also he said i could not resign,,,so i just left without telling him,,,,I have read that i do not need a release letter if i apply again from UK ,,,some people say i have to go to a differet province ,,wait until my old permit has expired,,,
    Does anybody know truth,,,,
    Also could i just apply for a new passport for uk

  45. You have to have the same job tittle to renew your visa,,,,,,,just something i read,,but maybe your boss could just change job tittle
    I quit my job and left china ,,i had shit boss and he  said he would not give me a release letter also he said i could not resign,,,so i just left without telling him,,,,I have read that i do not need a release letter if i apply again from UK ,,,some people say i have to go to a differet province ,,wait until my old permit has expired,,,
    Does anybody know truth,,,,
    Also could i just apply for a new passport for uk

  46. Does anyone know what happens if you kept your residence permit after resigning but did no longer work (4 months…) and want to apply for a L visa ?

  47. Does anyone know what happens if you kept your residence permit after resigning but did no longer work (4 months…) and want to apply for a L visa ?

  48. For all,
    interested in how you change employers between provinces:
    Cancel your
    engagement with employer A. Get the letter-of-release (LOR) and your Alien
    Employment Permit (AEP) in case the employer kept it (no good).
    Go to the Exit/Entry
    Bureaus (EEB) of the city that you want to leave and get an official
    cancellation paper with chop (OCP), confirming that you are no longer employed
    (you need your passport, the AEP and the LOR for this). Your old AEP will
    become invalid. In my case, a friend of mine did that for me – so personal
    attendance was not needed.
    Do not
    cancel your Resident Permit (RP). It will still be valid until the issued date.
    I double confirmed that with the EEBs of both provinces.
    Get a
    Registration Form of Temporary Residence (REFOTER) from your new local police
    station. The EEB needs at least proof of 4 weeks temporary residency (in my
    case 3.5 weeks worked as well). I would advise you stay a month in a hotel,
    saves you the trouble.
    Take the
    following to the EEB in your new city to apply for a new AEP:
    ·         - REFOTER
    (4 weeks)
    ·         - OCP
    ·         - Passport
    ·         - Passport-photos
    (4)
    ·         - New
    labour contract
    ·         - CV
    (in Chinese)
    ·         - Employer
    B’s business license
    (Since
    staff of my new employer did this for me, I am not quite sure whether
    additional info was needed. I remember that I did not need a new medical
    examination, though. And they probably did not even check the old one.)
    Two weeks
    or so later, you will get a new RP and a new AEP. In between, I had an
    “interview” at the new EEB. I had to look into a webcam but wasn’t actually
    asked anything.
    If you have
    to move flats, or move out of a hotel, as in my case, do not forget to register
    with your new local district police.
    For those
    interested: I got almost 3 months between my original LOR and the new labour
    contract. In that time, I went back to my home country and entered China again on
    the old RP; did not have any trouble.
    Cheers,
    Janosch

    • Hello Janosch, can i ask something? i got fired from my past company here in Beijing, ang my visa will expire on the September 21, 2012, now, i just found a job in SHenzhen, and this company ask me to provide … One is
      official cancellation paper with chop (OCP) and i need to go to (EEB) and i need to go on Monday.. my question is How long should i can get a OCP from EEB? does it take days? or weeks? thank you very much, hope you could answer my inquery…

  49. For all,
    interested in how you change employers between provinces:
    Cancel your
    engagement with employer A. Get the letter-of-release (LOR) and your Alien
    Employment Permit (AEP) in case the employer kept it (no good).
    Go to the Exit/Entry
    Bureaus (EEB) of the city that you want to leave and get an official
    cancellation paper with chop (OCP), confirming that you are no longer employed
    (you need your passport, the AEP and the LOR for this). Your old AEP will
    become invalid. In my case, a friend of mine did that for me – so personal
    attendance was not needed.
    Do not
    cancel your Resident Permit (RP). It will still be valid until the issued date.
    I double confirmed that with the EEBs of both provinces.
    Get a
    Registration Form of Temporary Residence (REFOTER) from your new local police
    station. The EEB needs at least proof of 4 weeks temporary residency (in my
    case 3.5 weeks worked as well). I would advise you stay a month in a hotel,
    saves you the trouble.
    Take the
    following to the EEB in your new city to apply for a new AEP:
    ·         – REFOTER
    (4 weeks)
    ·         – OCP
    ·         – Passport
    ·         – Passport-photos
    (4)
    ·         – New
    labour contract
    ·         – CV
    (in Chinese)
    ·         – Employer
    B’s business license
    (Since
    staff of my new employer did this for me, I am not quite sure whether
    additional info was needed. I remember that I did not need a new medical
    examination, though. And they probably did not even check the old one.)
    Two weeks
    or so later, you will get a new RP and a new AEP. In between, I had an
    “interview” at the new EEB. I had to look into a webcam but wasn’t actually
    asked anything.
    If you have
    to move flats, or move out of a hotel, as in my case, do not forget to register
    with your new local district police.
    For those
    interested: I got almost 3 months between my original LOR and the new labour
    contract. In that time, I went back to my home country and entered China again on
    the old RP; did not have any trouble.
    Cheers,
    Janosch

    • Hello Janosch, can i ask something? i got fired from my past company here in Beijing, ang my visa will expire on the September 21, 2012, now, i just found a job in SHenzhen, and this company ask me to provide … One is
      official cancellation paper with chop (OCP) and i need to go to (EEB) and i need to go on Monday.. my question is How long should i can get a OCP from EEB? does it take days? or weeks? thank you very much, hope you could answer my inquery…

  50. Hi, I want little information regarding work and residence permit in china. Currently i am working in Shandong province and i found a new job in shanghai.
    So i want to know that did i have to cancel my work permit from shandong province and then apply to shanghai for work and residence permit or it can be directly change ..Because my new employer in shanghai suggested me not to cancel any permit and they will directly change the permit from shandong to shanghai.Is it possible?
    Can any one solve my problem? What i need to do? What are the different documents i need ? Can permit will be directly change from one province to another or need to cancel in one provice and then apply to another?
    Please help me to solve my problem ASAP.

  51. Hi, I want little information regarding work and residence permit in china. Currently i am working in Shandong province and i found a new job in shanghai.
    So i want to know that did i have to cancel my work permit from shandong province and then apply to shanghai for work and residence permit or it can be directly change ..Because my new employer in shanghai suggested me not to cancel any permit and they will directly change the permit from shandong to shanghai.Is it possible?
    Can any one solve my problem? What i need to do? What are the different documents i need ? Can permit will be directly change from one province to another or need to cancel in one provice and then apply to another?
    Please help me to solve my problem ASAP.

  52. good morning, i have a question, i signed the contract for a school in chonqing, and then got my work visa ready to travel to China. but another job offer came down the line and more appealing to me, and decided not to go to chongqing and go for the new job in chengdu. i talked to the chengdu school about this problem and they said not a problem and they will issue me a business visa to trvel to china then once in china change it to work visa.
    few days back, i got an email from chongqing school saying that i cant work in china because i breached the contract and may need the released letter to get a new job.
    Now i m working in chengdu on business visa and ready to go to HK to get my work visa.
    do you think i been blacklisted or everything will be fine?. School in chengdu said, i dont need the released letter because my chongqing work visa has been cancelled by business visa
    thanks for the feedback.

  53. good morning, i have a question, i signed the contract for a school in chonqing, and then got my work visa ready to travel to China. but another job offer came down the line and more appealing to me, and decided not to go to chongqing and go for the new job in chengdu. i talked to the chengdu school about this problem and they said not a problem and they will issue me a business visa to trvel to china then once in china change it to work visa.
    few days back, i got an email from chongqing school saying that i cant work in china because i breached the contract and may need the released letter to get a new job.
    Now i m working in chengdu on business visa and ready to go to HK to get my work visa.
    do you think i been blacklisted or everything will be fine?. School in chengdu said, i dont need the released letter because my chongqing work visa has been cancelled by business visa
    thanks for the feedback.

  54. I want to ask one thing that before i was working in shanghai in a company and later i leave that company with some reasons regarding to my boss and i joined some other company in shanghai only. now my new company is applying for my work permit but they need only one paper from my old company that is the cancellation slip of my old work permit or the releasing letter. but i talked to my old boss and he just refused that he don’t have any kind of this paper and he cant give me as he says that I m all cleared from his side.
    as that paper is so important for me to apply work permit. so i want to know that is there any other option that i can use ?????
    or is there any law so that i can talk to my boss for that paper ????
    please do the needful as its urgent.

  55. I want to ask one thing that before i was working in shanghai in a company and later i leave that company with some reasons regarding to my boss and i joined some other company in shanghai only. now my new company is applying for my work permit but they need only one paper from my old company that is the cancellation slip of my old work permit or the releasing letter. but i talked to my old boss and he just refused that he don’t have any kind of this paper and he cant give me as he says that I m all cleared from his side.
    as that paper is so important for me to apply work permit. so i want to know that is there any other option that i can use ?????
    or is there any law so that i can talk to my boss for that paper ????
    please do the needful as its urgent.

  56. hello… i have a problem regarding my current employer..im planning to resign and not to finish the contract for some reasons. This is breach of contract and I know the consequences of this; yet i just not some more information for some steps that i need to do.i have z visa… i know that employers need to cancel it, now, i just wanted to ask if my employer will transfer it to L visa? how true is it? what more can he do as a rule here in china…please need some advice

  57. hello… i have a problem regarding my current employer..im planning to resign and not to finish the contract for some reasons. This is breach of contract and I know the consequences of this; yet i just not some more information for some steps that i need to do.i have z visa… i know that employers need to cancel it, now, i just wanted to ask if my employer will transfer it to L visa? how true is it? what more can he do as a rule here in china…please need some advice

  58. I wish I had read this, or anything, regarding this matter before I handed my work permit over to my previous employer.
    I just finished my contract with a small school here in Beijing with three months validity left on my Z-Visa. I got offered a job by a big company and they wanted to transfer my work permit. My old boss refused and cancelled my work permit.
    Now she refuses to give me proof of its cancellation (which is a receipt from the Labor Bureau), and is also refusing to give me a Release Letter. Both of which I need to get a new work permit.
    Now she is talking about trying to cancel my Z-Visa.
    On another dubious note; she also refuses to give me an end-of-year tax statement. She was contractually obligated to pay my income tax.
    I have no idea what to do but my next call is to the Labor Bureau.

  59. I wish I had read this, or anything, regarding this matter before I handed my work permit over to my previous employer.
    I just finished my contract with a small school here in Beijing with three months validity left on my Z-Visa. I got offered a job by a big company and they wanted to transfer my work permit. My old boss refused and cancelled my work permit.
    Now she refuses to give me proof of its cancellation (which is a receipt from the Labor Bureau), and is also refusing to give me a Release Letter. Both of which I need to get a new work permit.
    Now she is talking about trying to cancel my Z-Visa.
    On another dubious note; she also refuses to give me an end-of-year tax statement. She was contractually obligated to pay my income tax.
    I have no idea what to do but my next call is to the Labor Bureau.

  60. If you leave a job in China and fail to get an exit letter, it seems that the only choice is to leave and re-enter the country. I’ve been working here for 10 years and have had the bad luck of landing in a bad situation. I will be renewing my passport back home but wonder if I will have any trouble finding a new job if I return – without the exit letter.

  61. If you leave a job in China and fail to get an exit letter, it seems that the only choice is to leave and re-enter the country. I’ve been working here for 10 years and have had the bad luck of landing in a bad situation. I will be renewing my passport back home but wonder if I will have any trouble finding a new job if I return – without the exit letter.

  62. All the above sounds correct given my long experience in Beijing. What I am unsure of and facing at the moment is when transferring from one employer to a new one -in my case – and they need to switch from the Alien Work Permit/ Certificate to an Experts Certificate during the first step with the Beijing Labour Bureau. Can that be done without leaving the country? It is still Z to Z visa so I find this a bit confusing as no one seems to be able to give me a clear answer on whether it is possible and how long it takes. Any insights?

  63. All the above sounds correct given my long experience in Beijing. What I am unsure of and facing at the moment is when transferring from one employer to a new one -in my case – and they need to switch from the Alien Work Permit/ Certificate to an Experts Certificate during the first step with the Beijing Labour Bureau. Can that be done without leaving the country? It is still Z to Z visa so I find this a bit confusing as no one seems to be able to give me a clear answer on whether it is possible and how long it takes. Any insights?

  64. Our school wants to employ us directly and not via an agency. If the agency cancel my FEC is our residents permit still valid?

  65. Our school wants to employ us directly and not via an agency. If the agency cancel my FEC is our residents permit still valid?

  66. Hi, I see this thread is a little old, but if anyone could answer me I’d appreciate it. I currently have a Z visa and have switched companies… my visa will expire soon and I need to have it renewed and “linked” to my new company, I guess. The company is new, like I said, and doesn’t know how to do this. So, we are paying an agency to handle it. I have all the documents listed above. Will this work? Or should I find a company that knows what they are doing?

  67. Hi, I see this thread is a little old, but if anyone could answer me I’d appreciate it. I currently have a Z visa and have switched companies… my visa will expire soon and I need to have it renewed and “linked” to my new company, I guess. The company is new, like I said, and doesn’t know how to do this. So, we are paying an agency to handle it. I have all the documents listed above. Will this work? Or should I find a company that knows what they are doing?

  68. This is good advice and it gibes with what I went through a few years ago in Shanghai, though I have heard that the nitty-gritty can vary with the city.

  69. Count me among those surprised that anybody is saying the process outlined in the post and which several of us have confirmed somehow is not the way it’s done. My first comment is based on personal experience having worked for 6 different employers and my current job involving at least once a semester walking new teachers through either the process as outlined above of shifting from one employer to another or the HK visa run. We only send people on the HK visa run when they have entered China on something other than a Z visa (F and L being the most common). This post states correctly how to legally change employers in China without needing to leave the country or obtain a new Z visa.

  70. The original procedure outlined is basically accurate, and like many others here, I’ve gone through the change of employer route many times over the years.
    Of course rules are not applied evenly across the country and many are subject to interpretation; even varying in application from district to district in the great capital.
    For my latest renewal, I’ve been asked, for the first time ever, for my original college certificates — it’s a generations since I’ve been asked to produce them, and I’d suspect there are many expats working in China who don’t even have 3rd level credentials, yet they get through.
    Beware of completing the process at this time of year as you may be asked to comply with obscure rules on entry/exit, with it appears, the sole objective being to supplement the New Year entertainment fund of some bureau, not safeguard the laws of the country or national security. My wife recently updated her passport, at the same time as she was changing her employer, but was asked to pay a fine because she did not immediately change her work visa from old passport to new passport, despite having registered new passport with authorities who themselves were unaware of this requirement. Myself, I’ve have been in/out of the country several times with the two passports (old one with visa, now labeled ‘invalid’, attached to new passport) with nary a comment from capital airport immigration officials.

  71. I’ve been in China for 14 years and swtiched employers three times by doing exactly what is set out above. Those who are coming on here claiming this does not work are, to put it bluntly, speaking out of their asses. This is how it is done and I know of no other way to do it.

  72. All to often is easier to forge a release letter. Lots of folks want to leave unhappy work situations (for whatever reasons) and just creating a release letter and make a bogus stamp is all you need! To the best of my knowledge know one has ever been caught and I know of several folks who have done this. Most employers who are unhappy with a teacher behave deplorably as they view teachers as the least important component to their operation. Denying a release letter is a common passive aggressive way of getting back at that teacher by a spiteful employer.

  73. Sounds right to me. I would only add that it is usually a good idea to call and ask the relevant bureau before going to the submit the paper work, just in case you missed something.

  74. I think someone said this practice of forging documents is “unwise” and calls into question why the new employer can’t issue a new work visa. I’d concur with that perspective. And forging documents is a strict no-no.

  75. Can anyone please help, I began my current job in September 2011, when I was speaking to my agent he told me that I would only be working in the morning, but when I arrived here that was not true, basically my agent tricked me and I came to china with my husband and 1 year old son. When I found out that the agent had tricked me I told the school straight away. I said that I cannot work here. The school then begged me to work here for at least the first semester, even though this was a bit difficult for me I agreed. After working here for a few months I got used to the hours, they wernt so bad afterall and I would have stayed at this school but they now have a new teacher started from next semester. So the school knew that im leaving very soon. I have found another job but my school said they cannot provide my with a reference letter as I did not complete a whole year. If the school cancel my work permit then does that mean it cancels my residents permit? How do I go about transferring to my new employer. The school said that they will provide me with a release letter, I really need some advice. The school is in good terms with me

  76. Harriet, the release letter is the one you need to legally transfer. The reference is only for you or your new employer’s comfort, but won’t affect your legal status. If your new school wants a reference, explain the situation and you should be able to find a work around. Otherwise, collect the release letter from your old school and take that and your other documents (passport, degree, CV/resume, bucketloads of passport photos, etc) to the new school and so long as they get your paperwork handed in to the Entry/Exit Bureau of the PSB before your residence permit expires, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

  77. anon: “All to often is easier to forge a release letter”
    Not recommended. If you think denying a release letter is spiteful, I know of one school that blacklisted a teacher who did a midnight run. If you try to use a forged release letter and your employer has reported you to the authorities for breach of contract, then you’re in trouble for breach of contract and forgery. If I were the authorities, I’d certainly prosecute you. A better way to cope with being denied a release letter would be to get the new employer to do your paperwork for a new Z visa and use that as an excuse to take a holiday in Hong Kong or back home or wherever.
    I’ve also never heard of an employer refusing to issue a release letter. I’ve had disagreements with past employers and they’ve all been perfectly happy to issue a release letter and not renew my contract. My current boss has done the same on numerous occasions with teachers he didn’t want to keep, even when he has strongly disliked the teacher in question. My experience is that although there are bad and spiteful employers out there, it is far more common for the employment relationship to remain polite in that cold, purely professional, tolerate-your-presence-until-your-contract-ends kind of way, it made clear that the contract will not be renewed, and a release letter to be issued.

    •   To issue a release letter is the obligation of the employer when employment contract is ended.Refusing to do so can subject to punishment by the local Labor Bureau.
        That’s the reason why most employers don’t refuse to issue the document.Not because that they are kind and polite.
        

  78. I am surprised by people claiming this process doesn’t work. I went through this whole process last year and kept my permit, without all that much hassle.

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