This week the People’s Daily announced that 377 foreigners were found to be working illegally in China. Some knew they were breaking the law, but most were just ignorant of the requirements for work visas and residence permits.
That brings up one of my biggest pet peeves after five years of living and working in the country. It’s still really difficult to get a clear picture of what the laws are when it comes to foreigners working here. Rules seem to be different for different places — even within the same city.
Case in point: in October 2008, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau changed its computer system and all foreigners living in the city were asked to go their local police stations and update their temporary residence permits — one of the documents that are required for getting work visas and residence permits. Personally, I didn’t have any problem. I was renewing my visa that month and had to go to my local police station and my local station had the forms. Many of my friends went to their local police station and the police there hadn’t even heard about them.
It seems one Shanghai government official might have overhead foreigners’ complaints. The Pudong district Public Security bureau has just opened a new entry-exit service center to help foreigners apply for visas and residence permits as well as registering the birth of a child. I haven’t had the chance to go check out the center in person, so I’m not sure if it’ll live up to expectations but I hope that it’ll make being a legal foreigner in China just that little bit easier.