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Foreigners face stricter visa rules amid review

Foreigners face stricter visa rules amid review

Authorities are evaluating duration of stay, which could be cut to 90 days as part of crackdown on illegal expatriates and rise in anti-foreigner sentiment

Teddy Ng in Beijing Jun 27, 2012     

Foreigners working on the mainland will have the minimum duration of their residential certificates halved to 90 days under a draft law being reviewed by Beijing. It was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress yesterday following concerns over the behaviour of some expatriates that has led to a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment. Zhang Bailin, deputy director of the NPC Law Committee, said the change was proposed as some foreigners only came for short-term jobs.

The draft law also proposes fines of up to 10,000 yuan (HK$12,200) for companies that offer foreigners illegal invitation letters. The companies will also be asked to cover the cost of deporting the foreigners.

The draft law was proposed to tackle concerns about foreigners who have entered the mainland illegally, or who have overstayed or worked illegally on the mainland.

Official statistics show that the number of such foreigners caught on the mainland increased from about 10,000 in 1995 to 20,000 last year.

“By shortening the period a foreigner can stay in China, it is easier for the authorities to control foreigners here,” said Ong Yew-kim, a visiting professor at China University of Political Science and Law. “It will be easier for the authorities to send foreigners they don’t like out of the country.”

Beijing police kicked off a 100-day campaign targeting foreigners who break immigration laws last month after a British man was detained for molesting a Chinese woman outside a Beijing subway station. Other cities, such as Yanbian in Jilin and Wuhu in Anhui also launched campaigns targeting illegal foreigners.

Liu Guofu , a law expert from the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the authorities were stepping up management of foreigners with the draft law, and stringent permit approval procedures might be introduced for foreigners deemed more prone to violating laws.

“But foreigners who are here for longer-term assignments can still apply for a longer permit provided that they have met the criteria.”

Liu said a foreigner needed to apply for a work visa first and then a residential certificate to be allowed to stay on the mainland.

Jon Goldstein, director of the Guangzhou office for the recruitment agency Michael Page, said he had not heard of any expatriates having difficulties in applying for the documentation needed to work legally.

A representative of a head hunting company in Ningbo , Zhejiang said it had just extended the documentation for an expatriate staff member without much hassle.

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