I'm a US citizen living and working in China. I have both a work permit ("green book") and a residency permit (it goes in your passport and also functions as your visa). For foreigners working in China, these are applied for, approved and issued simultaneously, but they are separate documents.

If I cease being employed, I have ten days to begin work and file employment papers at a new job. If I exceed this window, I must exit China and begin the work permit process from scratch if I want to start working in China again.

What happens to my residency permit if I stop working? The work permit enables one to obtain a residence permit, but it's possible to receive one through other means. Does the residence permit remain valid through its expiry date even if the work permit expires? I haven't found anything to indicate otherwise, and it "makes sense", but obviously that's no evidence that this is the case.

A simple example: January first, I begin work in China and receive my work and residence permits. They are valid for one year. July first, I stop working. I want to remain living in China through December and my residence permit expires December 31.

Of course, if my work permit expires I will have trouble renewing the residence permit, but that's not the issue here. Please cite sources in your answer.

  • 1
    In China, each city has its own interpretation of the law. When something might be valid in Shenzhen it doesn't have to in Shanghai. Please contact Entry & Exit Department in person (better than calling) and ask them about details.
    – GregD
    Apr 13, 2015 at 8:19
  • And so does every clerk, agent or border guard. That doesn't make them correct, and in fact asking is a crapshoot for this very reason. I realize how things usually work and what can typically be accomplished in practice, but I want to know the actual rules. If the official, documented national policy is really only "it varies by province", please provide solid evidence to that effect and I'll accept it as an answer. Apr 13, 2015 at 8:48
  • 1
    Even if you'd know the actual rules it doesn't mean you can enforce it. Sorry, I cannot give you any solid evidence, only my experience.
    – GregD
    Apr 13, 2015 at 9:39
  • Some pointers until I have time to spell that out in an answer: reddit.com/r/Chinavisa/comments/4xz1yg/… and reddit.com/r/China/comments/4qqex1/…
    – mts
    Jul 20, 2017 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


It is difficult to remain in the country on a residence permit without employment. If you leave your employer on poor terms, they may decide to have your residence permit cancelled, too. In this case, you will be required to go to your local Public Security Bureau Exit and Entry Administration Office with someone from your company (or its visa agent); you won't have choice. There, they will cancel your residence permit and hand you the confirmation paperwork.

If it’s stamped cancelled on the residence permit page in your passport, at the same time you will be given an L visa valid for 10 days.

If you want to find another job, you would need a release letter from the current employer so that you can change your resident permit to a new employer.

So, quit your job and your company will cancel your work permit. You could ask them to keep your work and residence permits active until you find new employment; it’s unlikely they’d agree if it’s for 6 months and you don’t plan to work.

Without a stamped release letter it will be difficult to be hired by another employer.

Your employer may have your residence permit cancelled.

While you must leave the country immediately (you’re usually given the 10 days), you can use the cancellation paper at the Exit and Entry Administration Office to apply for a tourist visa (L Visa) to stay in China for another 30 days, and complete a Registration Form of Temporary Residence.

And don't give your passport to anyone: go to the Exit and Entry Administration Office with your ex-boss/agent if your residence permit is to be cancelled.

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