A draft Law on Exit and Entry Administration was recently introduced in China’s National People’s Congress. This would be the first major overhaul of China’s immigration law since the Law on Entry and Exit of Foreigners was enacted in 1986.
China is experiencing a new trend of economic immigration, at the same time that emigration continues. The driving forces behind the trend are the nation’s economic growth and changing demography. As China modernizes and urbanizes, smaller families are preferred, labor force growth is slowing, and the elderly population is increasing. This results in wage pressure and economic immigration. But China still doesn’t have the administrative laws and bureaucracy in place to deal with large-scale immigration. Administrative responsibilities are scattered over numerous departments, such as public security, foreign affairs, human resources, foreign experts, commerce, and education. This creates conflicts and uncertainty in the regulated community of foreigners and their Chinese employers. Also, many rules are not publicly available and vary from place to place.
Overview of the Draft Law
Topics covered by the draft law include, for example:
- Biometric Data: Foreigners entering China and applying for residence certificates will be fingerprinted and may be required to provide other biometric data.
- Residence Permits: Any foreigner staying in China for longer than 180 days will be required to obtain a residence permit.
- Green Cards: Provisions for permanent residence, previously included in regulations, are added to the statute.
- Overstay Penalties: Fines of 500 RMB per day up to 10,000 RMB, or detention of 5 to 15 days.
- Illegal Employment Penalties for Foreigners: 5,000 to 20,000 RMB, or detention of 5 to 15 days.
- Illegal Employment Penalties for Employers: 5,000 RMB per employee, with a maximum of 50,000 RMB.
- Prohibition on Departing China: Foreign company owners may be barred from leaving China if they owe back wages to workers.
- Registration with local Public Security Bureau: Foreigners not staying at hotels should continue to register at the local police station within 24 hours of moving in.
Text of the Draft Law
(The English text is not official. Thanks to the translator, who wishes to remain anonymous).