What will Happen if I am Found Illegal Working in China?

Issuing time:2015-08-25 21:27Source:Panda English

Don’t break China’s visa laws. This seems obvious but we hear enough stories of people doing this and ending up with big penalty and in visa blacklist.

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Illegal Situations

If you intend to work in China, you must apply for a work permit from the relevant authorities. The following all constitute working illegally in China:

  1. Working in China without a work permit.

  2. Working in China after the work permit has expired.

  3. Providing fake info to obtain a work permit and working visa (for example, you are employed by company A, while getting your work permit under company B)

  4. Overseas students working full time or beyond what their university’s or college’s work-study programs allow, or doing any business while studying at school.

  5. Foreign spouse holding Q visa but working in China.


If you break these rules, the consequences can be serious.

Punishments for violations

Foreigners who do anything unrelated to their visa type will be ordered to leave the country within a certain period (decided by the police) if they are considered not fit to continue staying in China. This is called being ordered to leave. Serious violators will be deported.

For those working illegally in China, there may be more serious consequences:

  1. A penalty between 5,000 RMB and 20,000 RMB (or more); the exact amount is at discretion of the police.

  2. In severe cases, foreigners may be put in jail for 15 days as well as having to pay a fine. They may even hold you past the 15 days until the fine is paid.

  3. They may also be deported or ordered to leave China.

The punishment will be decided based on how serious of the violation and whether it is intentional or unintentional. However, the law doesn’t specify what circumstances are serious and intentional, and how to measure them, so ultimately this is based on the judgment of the police.

The company will be fined between 10,000 RMB and 100,000RMB, and any illegal income they have made will be confiscated.

What to do?

What to do if you are caught illegal employment:

Try to be polite and explain the reason why you are breaking the law to the best of your ability. Be contrite and apologetic and try to persuade them to give you a lighter punishment. Don’t get rude or argue too much or be aggressive, as this will only make things worse for you. The police can decide what to do with you, and that means they can be easier or harder depending on whether they like you or not.It is possible that the police will be sympathetic to your situation and will allow you to leave without paying a fine or going to jail, but you should prepare yourself for the worst. You may spend (a mandatory) 15 days in a local jail and pay a fine, but after that you will be deported back to your own country, at your own expense.


Illegal working will leave you a very bad record at PSB, customs and Chinese embassy whenever you process your visa. Worse still, if you are “ordered to leave” you may be banned from working in China for two years, If you are deported, the law says that you will be blacklisted and not be able to return to China for 5-10 years. Your name will also be registered with Interpol, as an illegal immigrant, making it difficult for you to enter any other country but your own. To avoid any punishment or bad record, it is necessary and a must to apply work permit if you intend to work and stay in China. With the implement of new company laws and visa laws, it is not that difficult as you may think to get a work permit and even your own company registered in China. Self-employed by your own company is accepted by more and more foreigners, considering the low requirements for minimum registered capital, fast process time, and lower cost than it was previously.

Additional information: if you are caught and don’t have enough money to exit the country, your embassy can help you. They will purchase an airline ticket for you at what ever cost is available (they aren’t looking for discount flights but only for an available flight) but, once in your own country, the your government will expect you to return the money since it is classified as a “loan”. This means they can garnish you wages or lean assets or property.

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