Commentary on China’s New Exit-Entry Law

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If you’ve been following the deliberations of the government over new rules for foreigners concerning visas, work permits, green cards, etc., look no further. Gary Chodorow at the Law and Border blog (he is a Beijing-based immigration lawyer with a firm that has been in China for a long time) has an excellent report: New Exit-Entry Administration Law Enacted by National People’s Congress. In addition to all the links you need, including the text of the law, and a rundown of the procedural history of the new rules, the post includes the following “Key Provisions”:

Employer Sanctions: Employers may be fined 10,000 yuan ($1,574) for every foreigner illegally employed, up to a maximum of 100,000 yuan. Any monetary gain resulting from such employment will also be confiscated.

Residence Certificates: Foreigners’ work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of five years. Non-work-related residence certificates will be valid for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of five years.

Biometric Data: Foreigners applying for residence certificates must provide to the public security bureau (PSB) their fingerprints and “other biometric data.” In addition, the PSB and Ministry of Foreign Affairs may, with the State Council’s approval, promulgate regulations to collect such biometric data from persons exiting and entering the country.

Fines and Detention for Illegal Stay: Foreigners who illegally stay in the country may be given a warning before being fined. In severe cases, they will be fined no more than 10,000 yuan or detained for five to 15 days.

Voluntary Departure and Deportation: Foreigners who have violate China’s laws and regulations and are deemed “unsuitable” to stay will be given an exit deadline to depart voluntarily. Foreigners who commit “severe violations” that do not constitute crimes may be deported and not allowed to enter the country again for 10 years.

“Talent Introduction” Visa Category: The law for the fist time allows visas to be granted to foreign “talent,” but leaves further details to be set by agency regulations.

Green Cards: The law enshrines the current practice of granting permanent residence to foreigners. But the law remains at the highest level of generality, allowing permanent residence to be granted to foreigners who make “outstanding contributions” to China or “otherwise meet the requirements” for permanent residence as set by agency regulations. The law sets no targets or quotas for the number of green cards to be granted. By the end of 2011, just 4,752 foreigners had been granted green cards nationwide.

Restrictions on Residence and Work Locations of Foreigners: The Public Security Bureau and national security organs may restrict foreigners and foreign entities from establishing residences or workplaces in certain locations, if required for national security or public security. If already established, they may be given deadlines to relocate.

Refugees: For the first time, China’s domestic law reflects its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Persons may apply for refugee status and remain in the country while being screened.

Reporting and Whistleblowing: Units or personnel employing foreigners or enrolling foreign students should report employment information to local police departments. Meanwhile, citizens are encouraged to “report clues” regarding foreigners who may be illegally living or working in China.

Excellent stuff. Moreover, this is only a first glance at the new rules, so I assume there will be more information posted as the law is implemented.

One side note: I’ve been wondering what connection, if any, these new rules had with the all the anti-foreigner/expat chatter that’s been out there recently. It almost seemed as though these rules were the government’s way of calming everyone down, saying “Don’t worry, public, we’re going to keep these guys in check.”

According to Gary, the draft rules had three readings since December 2011. Pretty fast process, but all the anti-expat discussion came long after this law was already in the works. So I think I have an answer to my question. Still is quite a coincidence, though, huh?

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