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Engaging Foreign Employees in China


This note provides an overview of several important legal and practical issues that arise for a foreign company that wants to hire foreign (that is, non-Chinese) nationals to work at a foreign-invested enterprise (FIE) (外商投资企业) in China (PRC) (中国(中华人民共和国)). These include:

  • Who counts as a "foreign national" for these purposes.
  • The three structures that businesses use to hire foreign nationals in China (that is, secondment, dual employment and direct employment) and their respective merits.
  • The penalties for foreigners working in China illegally.
  • Eligibility and procedure for hiring a foreign national.
  • The points to address in a domestic Chinese employment contract for a foreign employee.
  • The key provisions of Chinese employment law that apply to foreign nationals hired under a domestic Chinese employment contract.

This note does not cover the hiring of staff by the representative office (外国企业常驻代表机构) in China of a foreign entity. That is typically conducted through the use of agency workers, which is a process known as labour dispatch (劳务派遣). For more information on labour dispatch and the staffing of representative offices, see Practice note, Use of agency workers: China. 

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Engaging Foreign Employees in China (Cover)
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Portrait of Jeanette Yu
Jeanette Yu