From June 6, 2022, foreigners belonging to the categories listed below are not required anymore to apply for the PU letter to be able to apply for a working visa in China.
They will be allowed to present their application directly to the Chinese embassies and consulates abroad by presenting their Approval Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit or proof of family relationship.
Who is exempted from the PU Letter ?
- Work visa in China (Z Visa): issued to an applicant who is invited to China for a post or employment;
- Personal Affairs (S visa): issued to those who intend to go to China to visit the foreigners working or studying in China to whom they are spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 or parents-in-law, or to those who intend to go to China for other private affairs. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days;
- Union Visa (Q Visa): issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for a long-term family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purposes of foster care. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days;
However, these developments are yet to be officially announced. It is highly recommended to consult the local embassy to understand whether the person applying is eligible for this exemption.
As of today, the notice has been confirmed by the Shanghai authorities and it is expected that also other provinces will follow as well.
Anyway, this is not the first time that the Chinese Government removed the PU Letter requirement for certain groups of people. Previously, in some cases, people who had been inoculated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines and who could provide an official certificate could apply for PU letter exemption.
What is the PU Letter?
The PU Letter is a new requirement for Chinese visa applicants imposed by the Chinese Government since March 2020 (at the beginning of the pandemic).
The PU letter is an invitation letter that an inviting entity needs to receive from the local Foreign Affairs Office to allow the invitee to apply for a visa in their respective country outside of China.
Only Chinese companies can apply for it, individuals or agents cannot. Agents can only assist the company with the application, but they can’t provide PU letters.
Before the recent announcement, only the following personnel were likely to get a PU letter:
- Important employees of large-scale companies;
- The core management staff of small or medium-sized enterprises such as the legal representative or CEO, etc. Even though the success rate for this category seems limited;
- Senior technical experts and other high-end talents who can bring benefits to China.
What effect the PU Letter had on immigration
The PU letter policy was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 caused by “external factors”, thus limiting the number of people entering China from other countries where the epidemic control is not as tight.
This new requirement dramatically stretched the procedure for requesting visas which now may take up to 6 months. Only the acquisition of the PU letter may take 2-3 months and in addition to that, not every company is eligible for requesting it.
Furthermore, the criteria for achieving PU Letter are unknown and local authorities evaluate requests one-by-one considering different factors such as the role of the applicant in the company and the impact on the company business if the applicant is absent.
With the cancellation of PU letter requirements (for some categories), the immigration process needed to enter China will be much shorter and less complicated.
The Chinese government has now started to put focus on action plans to accelerate economic recovery.
It is expected that the strict controls on immigration will be gradually loosen up with a further lifting on quarantine requirements for inbound travelers in the near future.