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Expired residence permit for work purposes, currently outside of China but possess valid work permit


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My situation is as follows:


I have been employed by a Chinese employer based out of Kunming in Yunnan province since November 2012. Throughout much of this time, my work projects have been in SE Asia and I generally only need to go to Kunming (or China for that matter) occasionally for a few weeks, the rest of the time I'm based in Thailand with regular travel to Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and other regional countries. My company is currently in the process of considering the next phase in the project we are doing and how they will employ me. This may mean I will need to come back to China but in the meantime, let me explain the timeline of my Chinese visas and what I can do to restore my residence permit for work purposes, which expired on 29th Jan 2014.


Note that the main reason I am in this situation is that my role in the company is more of a consultant hence there hasn't been regular work so far. Additionally, I got another job (completely unrelated) in Thailand, but that job ended unexpectedly around the time of the expiration of my Chinese residence permit. My company is however still willing to employ me further and there me be some more regular work around the corner, hence the need for me to seek some advice.


In October 2012, I applied for an "L" tourist visa from the Chinese consulate in Chiang Mai Thailand. This was rather straightforward, despite changes to the documents you needed to supply that were given at the time. I had a letter of invitation from my employer (who acted simply as a guarantor), with details including my method of travel to China (Yunnan registered car from Vientiane to Kunming, which ended up being a THAI flight from Bangkok but that's what I specified), accommodation at my employer's house (this was the case as I'm usually registered there) and period of stay, 30 days. I got the visa 4 days later (I'm a dual citizen but I have been using my Swiss passport for Chinese visa applications as I have previously resided in China on a student visa i.e. residence permit issued for study purposes). My employer kept insisting that a conversion from an "L" to a "Z" visa would be possible inside China even though I was quite sure this was the exception rather than the rule.


I entered Kunming in late November 2012 and stayed about 3 weeks in China and then went back to Thailand. I performed my duties for my company and went all the way to the Chinese border twice (I was involved in logistics management for my company) but did not cross as I didn't have a visa nor any need to cross into China at those times (early 2013). I even got an extension to my "L" visa, which didn't require any documents, just a fee of 168 Yuan and one additional re-entry, allowing me to depart Kunming and re-enter China before the expiration of the L visa on Jan 9, 2013. I never re-entered on that visa since my company told me that the documents they were preparing for me wouldn't be ready in time and there was no reason to return to Kunming at the time - all my work was in Thailand or Myanmar for the time being.


Starting in December 2012 my company prepared the documents required to hire me on a "Z" visa, which took a little while. Only in March of 2013 were all the documents ready. I originally wanted to apply for my Z in Bangkok in May, but as I was doing a lot of travelling to India and other circumstances, I only starting applying in late June. Due to some documents not being originals, I was asked to provide these documents as originals, so my company sent these to me to bring with me to the embassy. After 2 rejections for this reason (documents weren't original etc.) I was finally granted my Z visa on July 16, 2013.


I entered China on July 22, 2013 and then converted to a residence permit, which was completed on Aug 14, after earlier having submitted my paperwork on Aug 8 and only receiving my passport back on Aug 19. I received 6 months only initially due to the requirement of a police clearence check from my home country, which I obtained about 3 weeks later, but at the time of conversion wasn't able to supply yet. I was told to supply this document before the end of January 2014 in order to receive a one year extension from that date. I departed Kunming already on Aug 23, but returned for a couple of weeks in October, during which time I got my work permit (就业证) extended for one more year until the end of this year (2014).


Due to a new job in Thailand, which started in December (although the paperwork and other related issues started in October) but unexpectedly ended less than 2 months later, I wasn't able to return to Kunming to extend my Chinese residence permit. I would have liked to do it in early November whilst still there, but it turns out that the Chinese authorities now take 15 working days for this and this would have meant almost a month of waiting and doing almost nothing in the meantime. Clearly, this wasn't an option so now my residence permit that expired on Jan 29, 2014 is no longer valid.


How do I go about restoring my residence permit for work, given that I am still in possession of a valid work permit but no valid visa? What documents would I need? Would I need to re-apply for a "Z" visa in Bangkok, or elsewhere? Would fewer document be required, or would I be required to start from scratch? I can imagine that it might have become a little easier for my company to re-apply for any documents they need from inside China given I already have a record in the system, but it could still be a little time consuming.


Sorry for the long post, but I believe my situation is a little unusual, so I wanted to detail exactly the circumstances leading to what happened.

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For anyone not familiar with the 就业证 (back in my day these were fairly rare), it's an equivalent to the Foreign Expert's Certificate, but issued by the labour authorities rather than the foreign experts administration. Imagine the guy's out of China with everything in his passport expired, but a valid FEC. 


I think you're going to have to go through the whole work visa process again. The embassy isn't going to be used to people turning up with a work permit already in their possessions, and they'll probably default to their usual procedures. Plus they're going to want to see proof that the employer is still willing and authorised to give you a job. 


I could be wrong, and it might be worth asking if you can find anyone to ask, but....

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Thanks for your reply, I expected to most likely be required to go through everything again, but it shouldn't be as lengthy as the original procedure last year (although it was mostly my company that went through the hoops, as they should). There is no definite timeline on when I would be beginning work, but hopefully soon, likely in around 2 months. That should be enough time to complete all the procedures.


However, in the meantime I was wondering if in my case (I am a dual national) if I could perhaps get a tourist visa or business visa (single entry, short stay should be enough) again with relevant documents issued by my company but this time in ANOTHER passport, which is my Australian passport. Therefore, if the consulate/embassy asks for evidence of previous Chinese visas, I'll either show the one Chinese visa issued in my old Australian passport or claim I don't have any. This is because I am currently in Thailand on my Australian passport. Sure, switching passports by flying in/out would work, but as I am currently on a dual entry Thai visa I want to limit my exit from Thailand to one exit as the Thais are cracking down on multiple visa-free visa runs so I need to plan carefully to avoid getting into a situation where I would be forced to make more visa runs than I would like.


There is an event I may need to attend as well as a company meeting, probably later this month and seeing there's less than 2 weeks left until the proposed meeting I wouldn't have time to wait for a new Z visa, but rather would only have time to apply for an L or an F. Just wondering how the Chinese embassy/consulate might look at this, or perhaps they wouldn't notice, given my lack of Chinese visas in my current Australian passport.

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I don't understand what you mean, but if you mean it's risky, then no. First of all, Chinese embassies/consulates almost certainly don't have details of who is a dual citizen or not, and even if they did it wouldn't matter because there's nothing wrong with it. I have entered China on passports from 2 different countries before, just as I have entered numerous other countries on 3 different nationalities, it's all perfectly legal. However, you can only enter and exit on the same passport.


Anyway, I would rather have someone tell me what documents I need to re-apply for a Z visa or to regain my expired residence permit (I'm sure someone has been in my situation before?) Once I re-apply for that, I would be switching back to the passport that I used for my original Z visa and residence permit. However, for a simple L or F/M business visa (whatever the category is called now) any passport will do.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Roddy, thanks for following up. I got my Chinese "M" visa for business purposes (meetings and workshops etc.) issued in my Australian passport, so a different passport to the one I have been using for student visas and my employment visa that expired earlier this year -  it was issued in Bangkok without any issues. The original invitation letter's formatting and details was a concern at first, but once I returned with a more straightforward letter printed on my company's letterhead I got the visa, only 30 days though, which is extendable once I believe, but that's enough for now. Double entries would have been possible had I been able to show proof of more than one entry to China, but it wasn't really needed in my case as next time I'm hoping to return on my employment visa or alternatively a multiple entry business visa issued in my home country. Next day processing was possible but the availability of next day processing depends on your nationality - same day processing is no longer offered for anyone. For Aussies, same day processing is possible. For Thais it's OK too. For Swiss it isn't - 4 working days are needed, meaning you get your passport back on the 4th day (i.e. 3 days after submitting your application).


I will be sorting out my work visa in the next couple of weeks once inside China. Will let you know how that goes.

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