Xinhua News Agency

Visa rules tighten for foreigners

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am

China's top legislature has endorsed a tighter immigration regulation aimed primarily at foreign illegal workers.

The regulation ratified by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress shortens the minimum duration of residential certificates for foreigners carrying a work visa to 90 days - half of the current period.

The rule also bans any organisation or individual from employing expatriates without either a work visa or a residential certificate for foreigners working in China, Xinhua reported.

Public and state security bodies have been authorised to restrict expatriates from living or working in certain areas when it is deemed necessary for public security reasons.

The regulation is said to target foreigners who have entered China illegally, have overstayed or are working illegally.

The number of immigration prosecutions involving foreigners doubled from 10,000 in 1995 to 20,000 last year, official statistics show.

Employers of foreigners or foreign students must now report relevant details to public security bodies, the report said.

In addition, the Public Security Ministry was now entitled to deport foreigners who violated the regulation, the report said.

Offenders would be barred from entering China for 10 years from their date of expulsion.

The law comes into effect on July 1 next year, superseding the current two laws governing the immigration and emigration of foreigners and citizens of China.

Professor Ong Yew-kim, a Hong Kong-based mainland law expert, said the authorities were only putting current practice onto paper.

'Practically speaking, the mainland authorities have more or less carried out similar measures for the past few years without the support of a relevant regulation,' Ong said. The regulation spelled out rules which both foreigners and law enforcers would abide by. 'It is, after all, in line with international standards in this regard,' Ong said.

China's rapid economic growth over the past three decades has attracted a growing number of foreigners for study or work.

Xinhua reported on June 19 that hundreds of Africans demonstrated in Guangzhou and demanded an official investigation a day after a Nigerian man was found dead in a local police station. The protesters turned violent, leading to clashes with hundreds of police and damage to police vehicles.

It was suspected that Celestine Elebechi was seriously beaten by police for his involvement in a traffic dispute before he fell into a coma on June 18.

Police allegedly left Elebechi in his cell instead of sending him to hospital for treatment.

As a centre of wholesaling businesses ranging from garments and electric appliances to toys and stationery, Guangzhou is home to tens of thousands of African traders and entrepreneurs.