New Entry-Exit Laws in China Target Illegal Foreigners
New rules brought into force recently mean that foreigners and businesses should be particularly careful when visiting, living in, working in and running a business in China to ensure complete compliance with China immigration laws. The “Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China” and the “Exit and Entry Administration Regulations of the People’s Republic of China” came into force on 1 July and 1 September 2013 respectively. These new rules target illegal foreigners by imposing larger fines on people entering, living or working in China without permission and employers who employ illegal foreign workers.
Notable rule changes include:
- Prohibition of some foreigners exiting China
- Introduction of biometric data collection for foreigners applying for residence certificates
- Provisions on the treatment of refugee
- An increase of visa categories from 5 to 12
- Increased penalties for individuals and employers who violate immigration rules
Foreigners who have unsettled civil cases or who have been sentenced for committing a criminal offence may be prohibited from leaving China. The new law also prohibits foreigners who are executives of a company which has defaulted in paying labour remuneration to the employees. The specific job titles of employees that will be affected by this rule is not explained, but anybody in a management position should be particularly careful. It must also be noted that this rule can affect business visitors e.g. a company executive who travels to China for one day to attend a business meeting can be stopped when leaving if the company they work for has defaulted in paying its employees.
Foreigners applying for residence permits can now be forced to provide fingerprints and “other biometric data”. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also have the potential ability to enact laws to obtain biometric data from persons entering and exiting China.
The new rules also allow foreigners to apply for refugee status in China. A refugee applicant can remain in China during the screening and identification process using a temporary identity certificate.
The number of visa classifications has increased from 5 into 12. The 12 categories now include: F visa, J1/J2 visa, L visa, M visa, Q1/Q2 visa, R visa, S1/S2 visa, X1/X2 visa and Z visa. The new rules define the visa classifications more thoroughly and make it clear which type of visa people should apply for.
Along with the introduction of new rules, increased penalties will be enforced when the rules are not complied with. Foreigners will receive various penalties for unlawful employment. A foreigner who works unlawfully can get a fine of 5,000 to 20,000 RMB, or in some circumstances detention of five to fifteen days may be imposed. Individuals that recommend foreigners for illegal employment can receive fines between 5,000 to 50,000 RMB. Employers employing foreigners who are working there illegally can receive fines between 5,000 to 100,000 RMB. The new rules also give the PSB a right to carry out on-the-spot interrogation and a further interrogation for up to 48 hours. If the individual is still suspected of illegally working or living in China following these interrogations, the suspect can be detained for up to 60 days.
These new rules provide a prime example of the increasing importance of global immigration compliance for companies and individuals alike. With penalties for non-compliance including large fines and detention of individuals, it is essential that companies consult immigration lawyers to avoid possible penalties being imposed on the company or its employees in the future.
For more information about global immigration, or to find out how to remain compliant in a world where immigration laws are constantly changing, please contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3553 7711.