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Classifications of foreigners' employment in China

Updated: Nov 7, 2017 Print

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) has set the classification standards for foreigners to work in China, established a feasible and pragmatic foreign talent assessment system concentrating on foreign personnel's ability, performance and contribution with an emphasis on market feedback, international peer evaluation and other market orientations. 

Policy instruments – including a points system, a catalogue assisting foreigners working in China, a labor market testing mechanism and a quota system – will be utilized in a comprehensive manner in order to establish an assessment mechanism featuring real-time adjustment and positive guidance and enhance classified management.

I. High-end talents (Category A)

Foreign talents in Category A include scientists urgently needed by China to fuel its economic and social development, leading scientific and technological professionals, international entrepreneurs, and special talents who possess skills in high technology or top notch sectors that are in urgent need in China, so long as they meet one of the following requirements:

(I)Selected candidates for China’s talent introduction programs

(II) Individuals who meet internationally recognized standards of professional achievement

(III) Foreign professionals who meet the demand for market-oriented jobs encouraged by China

(IV) Innovative entrepreneurial talents

(V) Excellent youth talents

(VI) Professional talents with accumulated scores over 85

A level can automatically be granted to international award recipients, Fortune Global 500 company senior managers or technicians, intellectual property holders of high profile companies, and post-doctoral degree holders under 40 years old. All A level candidates are eligible for service through a ‘green channel’, which offers a pre-entry visa, paperless verification, expedited approval, and other facilitation treatment.

II. Professional talents (Category B)

Professional talents will fall into Category B if they satisfy the guidance catalogue for foreigners working in China as well as relevant job requirements, have skills that are urgently needed for Chinese social and economic development, and meet one of the following requirements:

(I) Foreign professional talents with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least two years’ work experience in related jobs and who meet one of the following requirements

(II) Outstanding graduates who have obtained a master’s degree or higher from a university within China

(III) Graduates who have obtained a master’s degree or higher from a top 100 university outside China

(IV) Foreign language teachers 

(V) Professional talents with accumulated scores over 60

III. Ordinary foreigners (Category C)

Ordinary foreigners will fall into Category C if they meet the demand of the domestic labor market, are hired in temporary, seasonal, non-technical or service jobs that conform to China’s policies and regulations, and meet one of the following requirements:

(I) Foreigners employed with approval or authorization from the administrative authorities of the State Council or according to governmental agreements between China and foreign countries

(II) Foreign youth coming to China for internships or probationary periods according to inter-governmental agreements

(III) Foreigners accompanying high-end foreign talents to China to engage in household service

(IV) Foreigners hired for ocean-going fishing and other special work

(V) Seasonal workers in border areas

(VI) Foreigners hired to other jobs subject to quotas



No quota is set for the introduction of high-end foreign talents (Category A); the number of foreign professional talents (Category B) shall be limited based on market demand; and any restriction on ordinary foreigners (Category C) is subject to China’s relevant regulations. Inquiries may be made through the Management and Service System for Foreigners Working in China.

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