Securing a work visa in China requires navigating a complex set of regulations. To help simplify this process, we’ve compiled 10 frequently asked questions addressing the key aspects of obtaining a work visa, among other critical topics related to starting and operating a business in China. Each FAQ is designed to provide practical advice and clear steps to help you successfully navigate the legal landscape, ensuring you meet all requirements efficiently and effectively. Whether you’re a student transitioning to the workforce or an entrepreneur setting up a new venture, this guide will equip you with the essential information you need.

1. How much does it cost to register a company in China? The total cost depends on the items included in your company registration package. For instance, in Shanghai, we charge 18,500 RMB, which covers the following:

– Company’s Registered Address

– General Business License

– General Bookkeeping for 12 Months

– Tax Registration

– Customs Registration for General Products

– Foreign Currency Permit

– Official Seals

– Bank Account Opening (RMB/USD)

Note: Company registration requirements vary by region in China. For example, Yiwu imposes a mandatory tax of 1,500 RMB/month on foreigners, and some regions require foreign businesses to hire local talent. We often recommend Shanghai as the optimal location for company registration because it does not impose mandatory taxes or hiring requirements, making it generally the most cost-effective option in China. For other regions, please contact us with your specific requirements and needs, and we will provide a detailed quotation.

2. Can you provide an office space?

No, we do not provide office space as we are not a real estate company. However, we can assist with company registration in China, Hong Kong, and many other countries. We can also connect you with real estate agents or property owners to help you find suitable office space. Please note that you will need to communicate directly with them for all real estate inquiries.

3. Do I need an office to register a company in China?

Yes and No—it depends on the location where you are registering the company. In Shanghai, for instance, you do not need to rent a physical office space for company registration. The company registrar accepts what is known as a “registered address,” which we can provide. This is a physical address where your company will be registered, located within certain economic zones we work with. While this address cannot be used as your operational office or for your visa application, it is sufficient for company registration and sometimes even for opening a bank account.

However, in cities like Yiwu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, registrars typically require founders to rent physical office space and provide a lease agreement as proof. Additional situations where a physical office might be necessary include:

a) Work Permit/Residence Permit Application: You must provide lease agreements for both your office and residential apartment as part of the application process.

b) VAT Refund Requirements: If your company is classified as a general taxpayer, the tax office will require a copy of your office lease agreement in the registration location.

4. Do I need a university degree to register a company in China?

No, a university degree is not required to register a company in China.

5. Can I apply for a work visa in Hong Kong?

Yes, you can apply for a work visa in Hong Kong, but it is important to understand that the process is quite challenging. Hong Kong’s laws and policies differ significantly from those of Mainland China. To qualify for a work visa, an applicant must prove that they possess unique skills that local residents cannot replicate. Additionally, the sponsoring company must demonstrate robust financial health, showing it can afford to bring foreign talent to Hong Kong, offer competitive salaries, and provide housing benefits. Simply registering a company in Hong Kong does not automatically qualify you for a work visa.

6. Can I start a company in China by myself – without anyone else?

Yes, you can. Starting from July 2024, new regulations allow foreigners to establish single-owner companies in China. These companies will be classified as “unlimited liability” companies, where the sole owner also serves as the legal representative and assumes all associated liabilities. Unlike “limited liability” companies, which protect personal assets from business risks, unlimited liability companies expose the owner to greater legal risks, depending on the nature of the business. For clients interested in a traditional structure, it’s still possible to start a company with two participants: 1) a company director and 2) a company supervisor, both of whom can be of any non-sanctioned nationality. The share structure is flexible and can be decided by the owners.

7. How much capital do I need to start a company in China?

For consulting (service type) and trading (import/export) companies, China does not require paid-in capital at the time of registration. However, there is a concept called “registered capital,” which is essentially a commitment by the founders to inject a certain amount of capital within a specified timeframe. As of April 2024, this timeframe has been reduced from 50 years to just 5 years. Additionally, the minimum registered capital requirement has been adjusted to 10,000 RMB.

8. Can you secure me a work visa in China?

No, we do not handle visa matters in China. Moreover, no one can guarantee or secure any visa, as only the immigration office has the authority to approve visa applications. Be wary of anyone who promises or guarantees a work visa, as they are likely misleading you or could be attempting to exploit you. We strongly advise working with licensed visa agents who can help prepare your documents and guide you through the application process. Remember, the outcome is entirely at the discretion of the immigration office, and no one can guarantee a positive result.

9. Can I close my Chinese company without injecting the registered capital?

Yes, you can close your company without injecting the registered capital if you decide to liquidate the company before its 5-year anniversary. The 5-year timeframe is designated for fulfilling the registered capital requirement, and if the company is dissolved prior to this period, you are not obligated to meet this financial commitment.

10. Can I start a company in China as a student?

Yes, you can start a company in China while holding a student visa. However, to avoid complications with future work permits, we strongly advise that you initiate the company registration process just before you graduate. Upon graduation, it is crucial to immediately transition from a student visa to a work permit linked to your new company. Any delay in this process can lead to legal issues, as running a company requires that the legal person (director) must not be on a student visa. This timely transition ensures that your business operations comply with Chinese legal standards.

JR & Firm LLC: Your Trusted Partner for Corporate Services in China

Navigating the business landscape in China can be challenging, but JR & Firm LLC is here to simplify the process for you. With over 15 years of experience in corporate consultancy, we specialize in a range of services tailored to meet your business needs. Whether you’re looking to form a company, draft contracts, structure your organization, or set up offshore accounts, we’ve got you covered.

Our Services in China Include:

  • Company Formation: From selecting the right business structure to handling all the legal formalities, we make the process of setting up a company in China seamless and hassle-free.
  • Contract Drafting: Our team of legal experts will draft contracts that are not only compliant with Chinese laws but also protect your interests.
  • Company Structuring: We help you design an efficient organizational structure that aligns with your business goals and complies with local regulations.
  • Offshore Accounts and Company Formation Globally: Looking to expand beyond China? We can assist you in setting up offshore accounts and forming companies worldwide.
  • Consultancy Services: Benefit from our in-depth market insights and strategic advice to make informed business decisions.

Contact Us:

For more information on how JR & Firm LLC can assist you in China, feel free to reach out to us at:

Trust JR & Firm LLC to be your reliable partner in China, offering comprehensive solutions for all your corporate needs.

JR & Firm LLC is also the proud owner of an international logistics company, JR International Logistics LLC. If you’re seeking a reliable logistics partner to transport your goods from any location worldwide to any desired destination, we invite you to explore our services. Please click here for more information.

1. What is the first step if I want to register a WFOE?

The first step towards registering a WFOE in China involves contacting a professional consultancy firm, such as JR & Firm, and signing a service agreement. In theory, the founders could handle the process themselves. However, since it requires an in-depth understanding of the company registration system and proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, it is generally more practical to hire a professional company to prevent potential mistakes during the process.

2. I have signed a service agreement with JR & Firm to register my WFOE, what's next?

After signing an agreement with our clients for WFOE registration in China, we issue a formal invoice. At this stage, we anticipate that our clients will make a payment for the service, allowing us to commence the process.

3. I have paid JR & Firm for the WFOE registration service, what should I do next?

Upon receiving full payment for the WFOE registration, we provide our clients with a detailed questionnaire. This document requests all the necessary information about the company, business activity, founders (shareholders), and executives (including the company director and supervisor). We request that our clients complete the questionnaire and return it to us via email.

4. What should I prepare for the WFOE registration questionnaire?

1. Company Name Choices: In China, WFOE names should follow this structure: [Place of Registration] + [Chosen Name] + [Business Direction] + Co., LTD. For example, Shanghai Silk Road International Trading Co., LTD, or for a consultancy company: Shanghai Silk Road Consulting Co., LTD. An alternative structure is: [Chosen Name] + [(Place of Registration)] + [Business Direction] + Co., LTD. For example: Silk Road (Shanghai) International Trading Co., LTD. Please note, in China, a company’s Chinese name is considered its main name. If our clients know Chinese, we ask for name choices in both Chinese and English, following the above structure. If not, English name choices will suffice, and we will select a corresponding Chinese name based on similar sounds. Avoid city, country, and historical names, as they’re typically disallowed. Also, we discourage direct translations of the English name due to high likelihood of them being taken. We recommend selecting similar-sounding Chinese characters to avoid delays. The Chinese name does not need to have a specific meaning, as meaningful characters are often taken.

2. Company’s Legal Person (Company Director): The legal person is an individual and cannot be a corporate entity. Please prepare their full name (as on the passport), a copy of their passport (not ID), along with their address, phone number, and email address.

3. Company’s Supervisor: The company supervisor is a separate individual from the company director, meaning they cannot be the same person. Please provide their full name (as on the passport), a copy of their passport (not ID), and their address, phone number, and email address.

4. Company’s Shareholder(s): Shareholders are the owners of the company and can be both individuals or corporate entities. Both the company director and supervisor can be shareholders. There can be up to 50 shareholders. Whether an individual or corporate shareholder, full information is required: full names, contact details, address, and either passport copies (for individual shareholders) or a full set of company documents (for corporate shareholders).

5. Company’s Business Activity: What products and/or services does the company plan to sell? Please prepare a detailed list.

6. Company’s Registered Capital: The registered capital is the amount the founders plan to invest in the company over a span of 30 years or more. The amount varies depending on the activity and place of registration. We recommend $300,000 for international trading companies and $100,000 for consultancy companies, as examples. The registered capital amount is usually suggested by the local government.

7. Full Contact Details for All Involved Executives and Shareholders: We need the complete contact details for all executives and shareholders. This includes addresses, emails, and phone numbers.

5. I submitted the WFOE registration questionnaire to JR & Firm via email, what's next?

Once we receive the completed WFOE registration questionnaire, we review it carefully and follow up with our clients accordingly. If there’s any missing information, or if the company requires additional permits or licenses based on its planned products or services, we will inform the client. If everything is in order, we prepare the application documents, attach our clients’ documentation, and submit the WFOE registration application. The estimated waiting period for feedback from the government on the registration application is approximately 10 business days. Please note that timeframes in China are approximate due to government bureaucracy.

6. How long does it take to get my WFOE license after the registration application is submitted?

Once the WFOE registration application is submitted, the government generally responds within 10 business days. If approved, they will issue the company’s structural documents, which the founders (shareholders) and executives (director and supervisor) are required to sign with a black gel pen and mail back to us (Note: In China, only black gel pens are acceptable for signing legal documents; other colors and ballpoint pens are not accepted). We then submit the signed documents to the company registrar and await the business license. The waiting period for the business license is roughly 10 business days unless expedited service was purchased. With expedited service, a business license can be obtained within 2-5 business days. Contact us for more details about the expedited service.

7. Great, I have obtained my WFOE business license, what is the next step?

Once we secure the WFOE business license, we will contact our clients and the bank to schedule an appointment to open a corporate bank account for the company. Please note, the company director must be present in China to open a corporate bank account and their citizenship should not be among the countries sanctioned in the bank’s system. Alongside being present, the director needs to provide a Chinese phone number linked to their passport and a second person’s passport and phone number linked to this second person’s passport. This second person can be anyone in China (provided their citizenship isn’t among the sanctioned countries) with a Chinese phone number. This requirement is due to the banks’ need to issue online banking devices that require two people’s information. Legally speaking, this second person doesn’t have any rights or obligations regarding the company’s finances or bank account. While this might seem unusual, it remains a requirement, so we advise clients to identify such an individual in China before opening a bank account. The bank account opening process takes around 5-6 hours, and we recommend our clients exercise patience during this process.

8. I have my WFOE bank account opened, what is the next step?

After your WFOE bank account is opened, we’ll proceed to contact the customs department to initiate the process for the e-port device (if you’re registering an international trading WFOE focused on import/export. Note that e-port isn’t required for consultancy or other types of companies). This process typically takes about 5 business days, and we’ll mail the e-port device to our clients once it’s secured.

9. I have obtained my e-port device, are there any other steps to be completed before I start my company’s operations?

Yes, following the acquisition of the e-port for the WFOE, we’ll register the company with the tax department. This process generally takes around 14 business days, and it requires the company director to visit the tax office in person for ID verification.

10. After the WFOE tax registration, are there any other steps involved before the company becomes active?

Indeed, the final step in the WFOE registration is the foreign currency permission application. This process typically takes around 7 business days and necessitates a visit to the relevant government department. After securing the foreign currency permission, the WFOE can commence its operations.

On the whole, the complete process for WFOE registration can span anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks. As we mentioned earlier, all timeframes are approximations due to the inherent unpredictability of government bureaucracy. Although these factors are beyond our control, we will do our absolute best to expedite the process.

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Jasur Mavlyanov, an experienced entrepreneur and legal expert, has built a notable career in international business, with a focus on China. With over 13 years of experience living and working in China, Mavlyanov has acquired valuable insights into the Chinese legal system and business environment.

As an entrepreneur, Jasur founded JR & Firm LLC, a company dedicated to providing legal services to global clients entering the Chinese market. His leadership has helped the firm become a reliable partner for businesses navigating the complexities of Chinese regulations and laws. READ MORE about Jasur.

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