Work Permit, Change of Employer or City (Tianjin) Update 22/05/2019



Before starting, you may want to read: The Foreigners Guide to Work/Hire Legally in China (Tianjin )

How to work legally in China?

Chinese work permit explained and application process

In this article we will only explore the case of renewing and altering work permit with the same employer, in case you are looking for information on how to change employer please refer to our other article: Work Permit, Resident Permit, Change of Employer or City

Key point is you need your old employer to handle to the new employer both release letter (离职证明) and cancellation letter from SAFEA (外国人来华工作许可注销证明 ) 


It is important to plan very consciously your change of work unit (employer), timing is important and the process are very different than a simple update/amendment of work permit and different from getting a first work permit.

UPDATE: Labor bureau will accept cancellation for 聘用合同解除 (ending of labor relation) only if your labor contract (and by extension your work permit) is expiring in less than 15 days.

If your work permit is expiring in more than 15 days, your employer will have to choose 聘用合同终止(termination of labor relation) and submit a 终止劳动合同双方协议 (agreement of early labor contract termination),signed by you and stamped by them, ( the agreement will have to be uploaded in the system as a complementary paper ).

Make sure that your employer chooses the good reason for the cancellation of your working permit in order to avoid refusal and delay. 

By well planning we means:

1 You need to plan all the process very carefully, and with good timing 

2 You need to have the total approval and cooperation of your actual employer
3 You need to have the total approval and cooperation of your new employer and your new employer shall be allowed to hire foreigners and know how to apply for a work permit
4 Old employer and new employer should be willing to cooperate, communicate and work together.
5 Be ready to start from scratch and increased failure chances in case of change of cities
6 Be ready to start from scratch and increased failure chances in case of change of job or industry


Case 1: Intra scope, intra city transfer

You are still with working with your current employer, found the same position in the same city with approbation of both employers.

Case 2: Extra city transfer

Relocation to another city, with cooperative employers and same work position

Case 3: Extra scope/industry transfer

Changing job for another industry or another position, with cooperative employers in the same city

Case 4: Resident permit & work permit cancelled

Your work permit is cancelled as is your resident permit, but your employer gave you the release letter and cancellation letter.

Case 5: Reluctant employers

Your employers won’t give your cancellation letter and/or release letter.

5. Tianjin administrations address book (direct link)


-The Foreigners Guide to Work/Hire Legally in China (Tianjin )

-Work Permit Explained, Application Process in China (Tianjin)

-Work Permit, Resident Permit Renewal and Change (Tianjin)

-Work Permit, Change of Employer or City (Tianjin)

-Internship In China (Tianjin)

-Foreign Auto-Entrepreneurship and Freelancer in China (Tianjin)

-Beichaka, police registration, residency registration

-How to Calculate and Withhold IIT for Your Employees in China (external link)

-Social Security Law for Foreigners in China (external link)

-How to get your Pension Payments back when leaving China (external link)

——> Knowledge database

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Case 1: Intra scope, intra city transfer

Old employer shall apply for cancellation of work permit at SAFEA online.

Old employer will receive and shall transmit to the new work-unit (employer) a cancellation of work permit letter (外国人来华工作许可注销证明)  emitted by SAFEA and a release letter stamped by the old employer (离职证明).

After emission of the cancellation of work permit new employer will have 10 days to apply at SAFEA for a new working permit for the employee.

After this delay of 10 days SAFEA can reject the demand. 

In some cases SAFEA mays in fact accept demands after 10 days, but it is safer to keep in mind 10 days as a limit.

After approval the next step will be going to entry-exit administration PSB to update, renew your resident permit.

In some case you may have to go trough an interview.

Case 2: Extra city transfer

All requirements are the same as in Case 1, but local regulations may prevent you to make some inter-cities moves. 

Some cities will refuse all labor transfer from other cities. 

Always enquire with local SAFEA bureau before starting the process

Some cities may ask you to redo the Medical Check, or to provide a new non-criminal record, while other will have you go back home to start from scratch.

Note that transfer demands from parent company to branch are generally more easy to get accepted by SAFEA

In case of doubt we advise you to ask the advice of a human resources agency specialized in foreigners workforce

Case 3: Extra scope/industry transfer

In case you have actually evolve into the company you were working for; it is always better to make the job change before making the work permit transfer.

Ask for your company to make an update to your current work-permit before doing the work permit transfert.

But keep in mind that SAFEA may not accept workers transfert withing a delay of 180 days after their work evolution.

Some SAFEA will refuse work permit transfer with job title change, while other SAFEA will ask you a 2 years of experience letter stamped by a previous employer.

Make sure to you have all the credentials and diploma for your new position, especially if you change not only your job position but your industry too. SAFEA may ask for complementary diplomas or credidentials.

In case of doubt we advise you to ask the advice of a human resources agency specialized in foreigners workforce

Case 4: Both permits cancelled

After cancellation of your resident permit, you can apply for a 30 days (extendable in certain case) humanitarian visa.

Some people, regarding the type of their working permit (A) or living in these cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou) or some special treatments, may not have to leave China in order to start from scratch and apply for a (Z) Work Visa.

Unfortunately, in most of the case you will have to go abroad wait, and apply from scratc for a new work visa (Z) in order to come back and apply for a work permit.

In case of doubt we advise you to ask the advice of a human resources agency specialized in foreigners workforce

Case 5: Reluctant employers

Sub-case a: You were working legally in China and didn’t break your labor contract then you should go to local labor bureau to start a mediation with your employer. (we advise you to ask advice from a local lawyer or a serious advisor to be sure you didn’t break the labor contract)

Sub-case b: You were working legally in China and did break your labor contract then you should ask the advice of a local labor lawyer and start a mediation.


Sub-case c: You are not sure that you were working legally in China, in that case putting to much attention on you is not the best choice. You may think about turning the page of your Chinese adventure. If you want to come back to work in China your new employer will have to sort your case with SAFEA. (Some people report on internet that starting again with a new passport is working too)

"You should always prefer a peaceful mediation with your employer to direct conflict.


Call only for lawyer or government help if all mediation has been unsuccessful and all communication channels have been used and closed"


If you are in your good right and plan to call for a lawyer or for governemt help do not threaten to do it, do not give them the time to prepare, just do it, but after using all means of mediation.

This article has been sponsored and written by Tianjin Link. With more than 15 years of experience, Tianjin Link is a Sino-French consultancy joint venture leader in providing business solutions for foreign enterprises.

You can contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or by wechat: ptshilei

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