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December 23, 2013

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Home » Metro » Expat Community

Job center focuses on helping expatriates

Moving your entire life to a foreign country can be hard. Finding housing, schools, medical care, not to mention a decent job, are just a few of the hurdles expatriates face.

Now China hopes to entice more skilled experts to its shores by making the task of relocating and securing a dream job a little bit easier.

The newly revamped Shanghai Employment Promotion Center has been modeled as a one-stop shop for foreign job seekers.

With more than 430 of the world’s top 500 companies now with offices in Shanghai, one step is to attract experts in short supply.

Shanghai is home to more than 160,000 expats. In 2013, they again ranked Shanghai as the most attractive city in China.

But while Shanghai may wow with its good looks, it’s the overall package that entices expats.

The Shanghai pilot free trade zone, launched on September 29, is China’s latest move in expanding economic dealings with the outside world.

Once upon a time, Chinese bureaucracies like the SEPC were little more than a rubber-stamp department, drowning applicants in mountains of paperwork.

But, at its base in Shanghai, staff here are now trying to woo workers from all corners of the world with the benefits of grabbing a job in the city.

Utilizing networks

Ding Feng, the center’s director, said they are the first port of call for companies seeking a recruitment permit, a requirement for hiring foreign workers in China.

“Foreign job-seekers could get work visas with the recruitment permit and then apply for a foreigner employment permit,” Ding said.

Documents here are in English, allowing foreigners with little knowledge of Chinese to register for employment or extend their visa.

“This is my first time and so far it seems to be very efficient,” one American job seeker said. “The staff are very helpful.”

Beyond the paperwork, the center has now extended its scope to helping expats utilize educational, medical and social networks.

It’s all part of the government’s recent endeavor to make their departments more service-oriented. Foreign employees, who are referred to as “foreign experts” in China, are among the target population of such services.

Rose Oliver from Britain is one of them. The 49-year-old works as a professor at Shanghai University.

“I found it to be more than just a bureaucratic-like agency,” Oliver said.

“It is more than an office that facilitates visas. They are actually concerned with expats’ working lives, their lifestyles and the quality of life they have in China.”

Oliver said it’s the center’s personal touch that has helped her to “have real exposure to Chinese culture.”

This includes the cultural events run by the center that provide foreign experts with knowledge about living in China.

According to Huang Weimao, deputy director of the Shanghai Foreign Experts Affairs Bureau, streamlining all-important social security services is another vital role. The SEPC is under the bureau’s jurisdiction.

“We have close contact with expats, to give them help with obtaining child education, medical care and even housing,” Huang said.

The help is appreciated by expats like Oliver. “They provide a lot of security.”

“When we have problems, I contact Huang. We don’t necessarily have daily contact. But at least there is the knowledge that they are there if you need them,” Oliver said.

Health care concerns

Besides basic medical insurance, the bureau has coordinated with a state-owned company to offer tailored medical services for expats.

“Foreigners tend to have higher requirements,” Huang said.

The offerings of assistance have been expanded as part of the Expats Residence Law. The law, which took effect on July 1, grants foreign workers with a bachelor degree or above, equal access to investment, government jobs, schooling, and an all-important driver’s license.

Russian biologist Philip Khaytovich works in a joint scientific research center established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Germany’s Max Planck Society.

“Before it was not clear what to do with us, because there was no legal framework to deal with foreigners, like how to provide social insurance,” Khaytovich said. “Now it has all changed.”

Khaytovich is part of China’s “1,000 Foreign Talents” program used to recruit scientists from around the world.

“I was fortunate to get into the talent program, as it provides generous support for our work. I think this can make China a very attractive place for research.”

The bureau is responsible for the program’s talent recruitment. With the top 500 companies on the look-out for executives and managerial experts, the bureau is right there helping.

Huang is especially seeking experts in the ship building, automobile, electro-mechanics and new materials industries.

Long-term visa

As part of luring and securing expat workers, China has plans to introduce a long-term visa. It will replace the working visa, which must be renewed annually.

“A lot of expats are willing to stay for a long time,” said Oliver. “They aren’t just coming for a year or two. They are coming to make a life here.”

Huang also just put another improvement in the pipeline.

“Foreign experts require a flexible visa policy," Huang said. “The creation of the Shanghai free trade zone provides a chance for change.”

Khaytovich, 40, said he has already considered retiring in China.

The new residence law for expats allows foreigners to collect a pension, but Huang still admits new provisions may take some fine tuning.

How to apply for a foreigner employment permit


1. Applicants should be in good health with no infectious diseases such as leprosy, AIDS, STDs or pulmonary tuberculosis. They should also have no other disease according to specific job requirements.

2. An assured work unit.

3. Professional skills, proper educational degrees and over two years of work experience related to the job.

4. No criminal record.

5. Valid passport or other international travel identification that can substitute.

6. Men between 18 and 60 years old and women between 18 and 55, under common situations.

7. Other requirements required by laws and regulations.

Application materials:

1. An application form.

2. Copies of valid business licence or other legal registration certificates and organization code. Foreign enterprises should also provide a copy of the approval certificate.

3. The applicant’s resume including the highest educational degree and complete experience. The resume should be printed in Chinese with the employer’s seal.

4. Related certificates of applicant’s skills (certificates should be issued by related organizations or by the applicant’s former employers.)

5. Copy of related educational diploma to the job in China.

6. Copy of the applicant’s valid passport.

7. Other materials required by issuing authorities.

Where to submit

• Shanghai Employment Promotion Center

Address: 4F, 77 Meiyuan Road

Phone: 12333 or 3251-1585

Opening hours:

9am to 11:30am and 1:30pm to 5pm from Monday to Thursday

9am to 11:30am and 1:30pm to 3:30pm on Friday

Closed at weekend.

• Foreigners in Huangpu, Xuhui, Jing’an, Changning, Jiading and Putuo districts and the Pudong New Area can go to district employment promotion centers to apply for the permit. Foreigners in other districts must go to the Shanghai Employment Promotion Center.

Huangpu: 525 Nanchezhan Road

Xuhui: 1F, 9118 Humin Road

Jing’an: Counter 5, 2F, 241 Wuning Road S.

Pudong: 3995 Pudong Road S.

Changning: 1F, 517 Wuyi Road

Jiading: 1F, 119 Jiajian Road

Putuo: 1F, 1036 Wuning Road

(Zhao Wen)



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