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CHINA: New Entry and Exit Draft Law Introduced in China's National People's Congress

At the end of 2011, a new draft law on entry and exit administration was introduced in China's National People's Congress for initial review. The draft law was subsequently published for public comments, and is under continuing review and discussion. Once passed, this law would be the first major overhaul of China's immigration law since 1985.

The current Law on Entry and Exit Administration of Foreigners and the Law on Entry and Exit Administration of Chinese citizens were enacted in 1985, and regulations to enforce the two laws were promulgated in 1986. Due to economic growth and globalization, China has been experiencing an increased flow of both Chinese citizens and foreigners across its borders. As a result, new issues have arisen for the Chinese government regarding entry and exit administration. According to the government, the draft law aims to provide unified clarity in the administration of the entry and exit of Chinese citizens and foreigners, foreigners' temporary and long-term residence in China, and border control.

The draft law authorizes the collection of biometric data, such as fingerprints, from individuals seeking entry and exit. It requires that foreigners who stay in China for more than 180 days apply for residence permits with 30 days of their date of entry at local police departments, where applicants' fingerprints will be taken. The draft law also requires foreigners to carry valid identification and register their location of stay at their hotel, or with the local police department if the foreigner does not stay at a hotel.

The draft law signals the Chinese government’s intent to crack down on illegal employment and illegal presence in China. It defines illegal employment as providing services for compensation without a work permit and residence permit; providing services outside of the authorized scope; and foreign students working beyond the authorized scope or hour limit. Under the draft law, both employers and foreigners engaging in illegal employment will be subject to monetary penalties. Employees may also be subject to detention.

The draft law also provides guidance regarding applications for permanent residence. Similar provisions are currently included in the regulations but not in the law.

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