Shanghai is looking to attract foreign experts and investors with new visa rules but qualification varies
China is taking new steps to improve the Exit & Entry administration policies toward foreigners as directed by the central government early last year. Specifically, Shanghai is poised to become a center for scientific and technological innovation and the city has taken steps to attract experts in these fields.
A key change is that Shanghai can now offer other ways for certain foreign workers and high-skilled workers to obtain permanent resident status. Previously, in order to obtain permanent residence status, the applicant’s job title at sponsoring company had to be general manager or higher. Under the new policies, those who have worked in Shanghai for four continuous years may apply for Permanent Residence as long as they satisfying the following requirements:
- The period of physical residence in China during the 4 years should reach 6 months or more;
- The annual income from wage and salary before taxes for the four successive years should be over RMB600,000;
- Individual income tax paid annually should be over RMB120,000; and
Certified high-skilled foreign talent, after working in Shanghai for three continuous years are also eligible to apply.
Permanent Residents in China can work and live anywhere they wish and the employer is no longer required file their work authorization documents each year. They can also move them around China without any immigration restrictions.
Shanghai authorities also introduced the type “R” visa for high-skilled workers and foreigners who are eligible for the following:
- Preferential application criteria and shortened processing time when applying for the Permanent Residence (after 3 years of holding a valid R residence permit, the individual may be eligible to apply for Green Card);
- Ability to hire foreign housekeepers;
- Long term residence permit valid for 5 years;
- No age limitation; and
- R visa can be obtained from port of entry
Foreigners under this category must satisfy one of the following conditions:
- High-level talents who are recruited by the Chinese government;
- High-level talents who are recognized by Shanghai Municipality Authority Department; or
- Specific High-level talents who are recruited by the affiliated unit of Shanghai Science Innovation new occupation list
It is important to understand that work permit is still required and workers must still meet other eligibility requirements including passing a health screening, no criminal history, two years of related work experience and an education certificate.
In the past, foreign graduate students who wanted to undertake internship or employment in China faced were not eligible unless they had two years of post-graduate work experience. Most had return to their home country to gain the necessary work experience before they’re able to take employment in China. Now, certain foreign graduate students who wish to remain in Shanghai after graduation will be allowed to do so. The new policies are intended to attract more foreign students to remain in China.
Under the rules, foreign students may be able to obtain a 2-year residence permit (visa) immediately after graduation and they can accept an internship or open a business in Shanghai. While undertaking these activities, if they find suitable employment, they may apply for work-type residence permit in accordance with relevant regulations.
The new immigration policies in Shanghai have broadened the opportunities for foreigners to enter and reside in this city. Some of the policies still lack details other relevant authorities may provide input at a future date. However, the goal is to make Shanghai more attractive for foreign workers and investors.