7 held over illegal visa service to foreigners
Seven suspects, including two foreign nationals, have been arrested for illegally helping foreigners to acquire residence permits in Shanghai.
Police said yesterday that 43 foreigners paid the suspects over 370,000 yuan (US$58,000) for false employment data to apply for residence permits.
Investigation started in the Pudong New Area last July when officials discovered an expatriate trying to renew a residence permit using suspicious employment data.
The expat claimed to have resigned from a previous company and to have signed a new working contract with another company, but couldn’t provide a note of termination from the previous company, police said.
Police found that the company offering the new contract, described as a “cultural and entertainment management” firm, employed the expat for a non-existing job.
Suspected of trying to bypass regulations, the legal representative of the company, a man surnamed Sha, was caught by the police, together with others employed at the company.
The suspects allegedly confessed that they fabricated working positions for foreigners who sought the service and charged them 4,000-5,000 yuan each. Police said the suspects advertised the service through word of mouth and via WeChat groups for expats.
Two foreign nationals who helped to find potential clients for the service and profited as agents were caught later.
The seven suspects were arrested on warrants issued by the Pudong People’s Procuratorate, and four others were put on bail. The suspects are facing the charge of “selling exit-entry documents.”
Police have annulled the visas of all the 43 foreigners who used the illegal service.
Current rules require that before they work in China, foreigners apply for a Z visa from Chinese embassies and consulates overseas with proof of a job offer, and then apply for a residence permit within 30 days after arrival in China.
For foreigners working in the performance industry, residence permits usually run for under six months, instead of the more usual 12 months.
Of the 43, who mostly come from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, about half were found in Shanghai, with others elsewhere in China. Some had jobs teaching English.
The police have not traced all the foreigners, but their visa information has been published on the official website of the exit-entry police. If those on the list don’t report to the police, their visas will be annulled after 10 days, police said.