Obtaining Work Visa and Residence Permits Across Asia

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A new set of rules titled the “ Administrative Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners(hereinafter referred to as Regulations)” was introduced by China in the year 2013. From September 1,the Regulations came into effect. It introduced several changes to the application of the residence permit and have updated the country’s visa system ,which we discuss below.

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Changes to Business and Work Visas

The F visa and Z visa were the two primary visas for business and work in China ,as stated by the old rules.

However,visa categories and requirements for foreigners who would like to work and do business in the country have been changed significantly ,with the new Regulations in place.


Business Visa

Foreign business people who came to China on business but were not employed at Chinese entity used the F visa ,previously known as the business visa. While due to the new Regulations,the scope of the visa have limited to non- commercial purposes only,such as visits and inspections, cultural exchanges,and also introduced the M visa,a new business visa for business and trade purpose applicable for foreigners coming to the country.

The M visa can be applied by submitting an invitation letter issued by the visitor’s commercial partners within China.Specific application materials for the M visa are not listed under  the Regulations but the primary documents required are similar to those of the F visa.

Work Visa

With respect to the current visa system ,foreign individuals can be employed not only with the Z visa but also with the new type of visa namely the R visa. China, offers such visas to attract global talents and apply to senior- level foreign professionals whose skills are urgently needed.

Relevant documentation is needed by the R visa applicants and they need to satisfy the requirements stated by the relevant competent authorities.

Changes to Residence Permit

Residence permit allows foreigners an unlimited number of trips into and out of China during the term. The minimum validity period for work related residence permit from the previous 1 year has been reduced to 90 days by the regulations, while the maximum being unchanged at 5 years.Therefore,any foreigner who needs to do business in China for 90 days or more need to apply for a work permit together with a work - related residence permit , instead of relying on business visa.

The following documents needs to be submitted to the local entry and exit admin authority above the country level by foreign individuals applying for work- related residence permits:

* Passport or other travel documents, along with photos and additional supporting personal documents.

* A health certificate with more than a year validity

* Fingerprints and other human biometric information

* Work permit and other relevant supporting materials or relevant supporting documents from authorities that prove the applicant is a senior- level foreign talent or professional whose skill is urgently needed in China.

Changes to Processing Time

The processing time for residence permit applications was 5 working days upon the receipt of application earlier,but later on it has been extended to 15 calendar days by the Regulations , and interviews may be required. Due to stricter visa requirements and additional processing time, companies in China are advised  to apply for visas on behalf of their employees as it may impact their recruiting flexibility. For the implementation of Regulations, the Chinese government will issue further administrative rules in the near future.In order to avoid non-compliance, companies with global mobile workforces in China are advised to be aware of the latest developments regarding the new visa rules.


For Singapore govt, regulating the immigration flow has been , and is still a major concern.The basic idea behind the rules is to attract talented workers.

Work Pass Type Eligible Individuals

Employment pass    - For foreign professionals working in managerial,executive or specialized

                                   jobs who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,000, and meet other

           qualification requirements.


Employment pass    - For existing employment pass holders and overseas foreign professionals who meet specific qualification requirements.Unlike an Employment pass

                                    which must be cancelled when the pass holder leaves the employer, to 6

months between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities.   


EntrePass            - For foreign entrepreneurs who would like to start business in Singapore.

Applicants need to meet certain qualifications such as holding at least 30

percent of the shares in the company,and the company should have at

least S$50,000 in paid-up capital.

S Pass       - For mid-level skilled foreigners who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least

        S$2,200 to work in Singapore.

Work Permits        - For foreign basic skilled workers(those who  do not meet the criteria of

                                mid-level skilled and professional foreigners) can apply for work permit.


Citizens from most countries are able to obtain visitor visa upon arrival , for short trips to Singapore and these can be extended to other types of passes.Though long term employment passes are easily obtained if the salary is high( above S$3.000),prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower for the work permits and visas are mandatory.

And also, each foreign worker is charged with a monthly levy by the govt which is dependant on the worker’s skill level , business sector and the percentage of foreign workers in a company’s total workforce.For example,the service sector has an average monthly levy of S$330 per skilled foreign worker and S$403 per basic skilled foreign worker.By July 2013, the Singapore govt said that, it will increase the levy for service sector to an average of S$500 per basic skilled foreign worker and S$433 per skilled foreign worker.


Malaysia allows a majority of countries namely United States,France  to enter without visa for business trips that do not last longer than 90 days . On approval of Ministry of Manpower, foreign workers would be employed  by a company within Malaysia.The company  that is sponsoring the employee must also work with the govt to ensure that the worker is approved for entry.

Types of visas

a)Single Entry - Valid for 3 months

b)Multiple Entry - Valid for 3 - 12 months

Application Process

Applications must be made  through the nearest Malaysian Representative Office Abroad or, for Indian and Chinese through the online I-Visa System. Following documents are required for processing application

1)Original passport

2)Two passport photo copies

3)Two copies of applicant’s passport

4)Two copies of the visa application form

5)Two copies of return air ticket

6)Original approval letter from the Immigration Department of Malaysia

7)Evidence of sufficient financial standing

Work Permit

Foreign nationals working with eligible work sectors require work permits. The sectors includes

*  Manufacturing

* Plantation

* Agriculture

* Services

* Construction

The paperwork required to obtain a work permit includes the following:

1)Copy of applicant’s passport

2)One passport photo

3)A letter of work permit application from the employer

4)Visa application

5)Letter of approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs

6)Original receipt of the fees paid

7)Visa with reference application form

8)Medical report from the country of origin approved by the Ministry of Health Malaysia


Visa requests in Philippines are processed by The Philippines Bureau of Immigration.The three eligible non-immigrant visa types are

*9(A):Short-term business visit

*9(D):Foreign  treaty trader or Foreign investor

*9(G):Pre-arranged employment

Valid visa is required only for trips exceeding 30 days.Visa applications can be made through mail to the Philippine Consulate General prior to the travel or upon arrival at the Bureau of Immigration or through any Filipino Consular office.

9(A) Visa

This Visa is valid for 59 days.It applies to Foreign workers who come for short term business activity.The Bureau of Immigration is responsible for granting approval for extending the period of stay. Documents required are:

a)Valid passport

b)One passport photo(3.5cm - 4.5cm)

c)Tourist visa extension from no.MCL 07 - 02

d)Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate

9(D) Visa

This Visa applies to International trade and Investment by foreigners.Any non - local engaged in the financing and operation of Filipino business enterprise is a Foreign investor while anyone engaging in cross border trade with Philippines and is subjected to existing trade treaties is a treaty trader.Documents required are:

a)Valid passport

b)One passport photo(3.5cm - 4.5cm)

c)Copy of employment contract

d)Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate

e)Consolidated General Application Form from the Bureau of Immigration

f)Company’s Corporate Documents:

   1)Certificate of Registration;

   2)Articles of Incorporation;and

   3)Copy of tax return fillings.


9(G) Visa

This Visa applies to any foreign national seeking long term employment in Philippines.An Alien Employment permit request must be submitted by the applicant’s employer with the Bureau of Immigration.Documents required are:

a)Valid passport

b)One passport photo(3.5cm - 4.5cm)

c)Copy of employment contract

d)Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate

e)Consolidated General Application Form from the Bureau of Immigration

f)Applicant’s Curriculum Vitae

g)Copy of Alien Employment permit

h)Company’s Corporate Documents:

   1)Certificate of Registration;

   2)Articles of Incorporation;and

   3)Copy of tax return fillings.

Special Investment Visas

For foreign nationals involved in Investment or endorsed business within Philippines there are two special Visa categories.The Special Investors Resident Visa(SIRV) will be awarded to foreign nationals who have invested US$50,000 or more in tourism and retirement park projects.The pro- Investment visa is valid for 30 days to six months upon arrival.


Any foreigner willing to work in Thailand needs to apply for both Visa and work permit.For foreigner looking to conduct business or investment activity needs to acquire the non - immigrant “B” visa which is of 3 types based on the duration of stay, they are:

a)Single entry valid for three months

b)Multiple entry valid for one year

c)Multiple entry valid for three years

The validity period for non - immigrant “B” visa is 90 days,but may be extended upon approval from Immigration Bureau of Bangkok.

Visa Application

Application must be made in person through the Royal Thai Consulate-General In the applicant’s home country or within Thailand,but residents of certain countries may apply through authorized travel agencies.Documents required are:

a)Passport with validity of 6 or more months

b)Passport photo(4*6 cm) taken within 6 months

c)Evidence  of sufficient financial standing(US$620/person,US$1,240/family)

d)Ministry of Labor Letter of Approval

e)Work permit

f)Company’s corporate documents:

1)Company profile;

2)Business license;

3)Shareholders list;

4)Foreign workers list;

5)Financial statements;and

6)Value-added tax registration

The Applicant’s employer must submit a form WP3 to the Office of Foreign Workers Administration,to receive a Letter of Approval from the Ministry of Labour.

Work Permit

The applicant must also posses an officially issued work permit, in order to work in Thailand.For the application to be processed successfully,both the foreign worker and domestic employer must submit the required paperwork to the department of employment. For applicant this includes:


b)Passport photo

c)Medical certificate

d)Proof of employment

e)Address in Thailand

Documents submitted by the employer includes:

a)Company certificate

b)Shareholders list

c)Value - added tax registration

d)Financial statements

e)Copy of director’s passport

f)Employment agreement


By the end of 2012, the number of workers heading to Vietnam has increased drastically to 88,000.The majority are employees working for FDI projects.Vietnamese representative offices are able to hire staff directly, unlike other Asian countries,such as China.

The Vietnamese entity must publicly announce recruitment to job seekers in a vietnamese newspaper or online portal 30 days prior to recruiting the foreign employee. For the work permit of foreign employee, the evidence of the announcement must be presented along with the application.Government owned employment service center is another option to recruit foreigners.

There are number of procedures and legal framework that must be understood,while hiring foreign staff in Vietnam.


Most foreigners require a visa issued by Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate to enter into Vietnam,which can be granted in a third-party country or from within Vietnam. Foreigners must acquire a long-term three month multiple entry visa, to work in Vietnam and remain for an extended period.Work Visa types are:

1) B2 - For execution of investment projects already licensed by Vietnamese state agencies

2) B3 - For work with Vietnamese enterprises

3) B4 - For work at representative offices or branches of economic,culture,or other professional      organizations of foreign countries,or work with a Vietnam-based non-governmental organizations.

Work Permits

In Vietnam,work permit is required if the stay is for more than 3 months.Regarding work permits authorities are becoming more strict.On violation of work permits,either the foreigner is deported back to their home country or penalized.The validity period of work permits is currently for a maximum of 3 years.

The applicant must comply with the following conditions, in order to be eligible for a work permit:

1)A manager,executive director or expert with technical skills and knowledge necessary for the job

2)At least 8 years of age

3)Not Currently subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in Vietnam or overseas,or have a criminal record

4)In good enough health to satisfy job requirements

The following situations exempt the foreigner from needing a work permit:

a)Working in Vietnam for less than 3 months

b)A member of an LLC with two or more members

c)The owner of an LLC with only one member

d)A member of the board of a joint stock company

e)Coming to Vietnam to market products and services

f)Coming to Vietnam for less than three months in order to resolve a situation which Vietnamese or foreign experts currently in Vietnam are unable to resolve

g)Lawyers granted a professional permit in Vietnam

h)Heads of representative offices,chiefs of project offices or individuals working for foreign non - govt organizations in Vietnam

i)Internally transferred within an enterprise which has commercial presence in the committed service list of Vietnam with the world trade organization

j)Coming to Vietnam to supply consulting services for programs and projects that use Official Development Assistance

Temporary Residence Cards

Temporary Residence Cards can be granted to foreigners who hold work permits valid for more than one year,as well as senior management.A TRC is valid for 3 years and is issued by the immigration agency under the Ministry of Public Security.Members of management boards,members of councils and boards of directors,heads of company branches and chief representatives of representative offices of foreign enterprises in Vietnam,B2,B3,B4 visa holders are eligible for TRC.


As a result of new immigration laws passed in the year 2011 in Indonesia,there are various options available for foreign workers for obtaining visas and work permits.For a short term stay upto 30 days,Indonesia also offers visa-on-arrival service.In addition to issuing work permits/visas prior to arrival,The Ministry of Manpower also maintains list of all professional positions in Indonesia that are open to foreign nationals.

The requirements for all work related visas are:

a)All completed visa application must be accompanied by a current passport from the country of residence with the maximum of six months validity

b)At least one color passport photograph

c)A signed copy of your resume either in English or Indonesian

d)Separate list of job references and work experience

e)Copy of recent diplomas and degrees

f)Proof of sufficient funding for the duration of visit

Work or business visa is obtained only when the employer submits the work permit application along with government approval for the foreign worker.The company must send a formal request for approval called the Letter of Announcement to the BKPM, along with the Manpower Utilization Plan for foreign worker.On approval of all these,the company can submit a VITAS Visa application to the BKPM, which will then issue a Letter of Recommendation to the Department of Immigration to allow you to obtain visa.

Types Of Visas

Business Visas

Foreigners who do not take up employment positions or salary from a company but conduct business activities, will be given Business Visas valid for one year.This visa is available in both single and multiple entry variants,the latter has a 60 days validity period and can be extended too.


Residence cards called Limited Stay Permit Cards(Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas) need to be obtained by expatriates working in Indonesia on a full-time basis, to legally work in the country.The Company must prove their necessity to hire the foreigner.A KITAS is valid for one year and can be extended with an advance notice of 30 days. An yearly fee of US$1,200 need to be paid by the foreigner , if the Ministry of Manpower accepts the application.


Investors and workers,retired elderly foreigners older than 55 and foreigners married to Indonesian citizens can acquire a KITAP(Kartu Izin Tinggal Tetap),which is the permanent stay permit in Indonesia.On holding the KITAS for three consecutive years, an investor or worker will be eligible to apply for a KITAP, which is eligible for 5 years and may be extended for indefinite period of time.

Visas On Arrival

Regardless of the purpose of your visit,visas can be obtained directly on any airports or seaports in Indonesia, which is valid for 30  days and can be extended for another 30 days.


There are number of procedures and legal framework that must be understood when,applying

for a long term visa in India.

Visa Application

Business visa(B visa) and Employment visa(E visa) are two kinds of work related visa in India. A multiple entry business visa is valid for 5 years,with the period of stay determined by Indian mission.

The foreign applicant must have the following to acquire a business visa:

a)A valid travel document and a re-entry permit

b)Documentation dealing with the individual’s financial standing

c)The foreign national shall comply with all other requirements such as the payment of tax liabilities

d)The business visa must be issued from the country of origin or the country of domicile

e)Documentation outlining to the intended visit to India

The foreign applicant must have the following to acquire an employment visa:

a)The applicant is highly skilled and qualified professional, who is being engaged by a company in India on a contract or employment basis

b)Employment visas shall not be granted for jobs in which qualified indians are available

c)The foreign national shall comply with all other requirements such as the payment of tax liabilities

d)The foreign national seeks to visit India for employment in an entity registered in India, or for employment in foreign company engaged in a project in the country.

IT professionals can be granted employment visas based on 1 percent rule, that is only highly skilled professionals can be granted employment visas by the Indian missions to the extent that they represent 1 percent of the company’s total workforce, subject to maximum of 20.

All the details of the foreign national will have to be furnished by the Indian company hiring foreign personnel and the percentage of foreign expatriates compared to the total number of employees have to be listed.

Visa Registration

Every foreigner must register within 14 days of arrival at the Foreign Regional Registration Office(FRRO) if the duration of stay exceeds to 6 months, as per the immigration laws of India. A date of appointment is given by the FRRO, prior to filling an online registration form.The applicant has to be present at the FRRO at the scheduled date and requires immediate enrollment at the reception.The registration certificate is issued by the officer, upon satisfaction.The officer in charge at FRRO finally signs the certificate.

For registration of an employment visa the documents required are:

a)A complete online form

b)Four passport size photos of the applicant

c)A copy of photo page

d)A visa page within passport

e)Employment contract specifically stating the monthly contract

f)A copy of notarized lease deed/agreement or a C-Form from the hotel of residence

g)A letter of authorization and undertaking in prescribed format by the employer of the applicant

A foreigner becomes legally eligible to work and reside in India for the allowed period on completion of the above mentioned processes. The permits are renewable prior to expiration.

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