Foreigners get bigger fines in exit-entry law

Updated: 2013-08-21 11:03

By Yu Ran in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Foreigners get bigger fines in exit-entry law

Shanghai fined and punished more than 500 foreigners for illegally staying in the country after China imposed its new exit-entry law in July, according to statistics provided by the city's immigration inspection department.

From July 1 through Aug 10, 534 foreigners had illegally entered or overstayed their visas.

More than 380 of them were found by the border inspection department at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

That is an increase of 150 percent on the same period the previous year, the figures showed.

A foreigner who stayed illegally in Shanghai for 33 days was fined 10,000 yuan ($1,630) by the city's immigration inspection authority on Aug 2, the biggest fine issued in the city and the maximum allowed under the law that took effect on July 1.

"The reason for the massive increase of illegal stay cases was unclear, and our suggestion for foreign visa holders in China is to apply for extensions on time to avoid being fined," said Yang Xiajie, a staff member of the Shanghai General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection.

The new exit-and-entry law stipulates stiffer punishment for foreigners who illegally enter, live or work in China, and states they will be fined for each day they overstay with the total amount not exceeding 10,000 yuan. The maximum fine under the previous law was 5,000 yuan.

Under the new law, the shortest working visa for foreigners is 90 days, and a residence certificate is valid for from 180 days to five years.

Foreign visa holders with a maximum stay of 180 days have to apply for an extension seven days before their visa expires, and the extension should not exceed the originally permitted duration.

"If the regulation is fairly equal for every foreigner without further consideration of their position and social status in China, we are willing to accept the change, which seems to be quite high punishment for overstaying a visa," said June Seah, a producer from Malaysia who has worked in the advertising industry in Shanghai for six years on a work visa.

Seah said the new law may offer a lesson for those foreign residents who have not regularly paid attention to the date their visa expires.

Foreign residents have also obtained some benefits from the new law.

In the past month, Shanghai approved 60,000 temporary entry permits of less than 15 days for emergency purposes and processed 7,000 overseas tourists who could stay in Shanghai for up to 72 hours without a visa, according to statistics released by the local immigration inspection department.

"The upgraded exit-entry law is a sign China is trying to set up a more-regulated legal system to deal with the rapidly increasing amount of foreign immigrants who choose to live or work in the country in recent years," said Ren Yuan, a professor at Fudan University's School of Social Development and Public Policy.

Ren added that standardizing the punishments and offering more convenient visa policies are both useful methods for China to set up global standards in foreign immigration cases.

(China Daily USA 08/21/2013 page1)