China's new visa policy to lure foreign talent

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - New permit for foreigners aims to boost talent in workplace

Multiple-entry visas, valid for up to five years, will soon be on offer in a bid to attract more top talent.

The Exit and Entry Administration Law, which comes into effect in July, will also introduce a six-month visa for short-term hires.

Zhang Jianguo, director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said yesterday that foreigners must already be employed to apply for the visa.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is helping authorities implement the visas.

"We hope the visas will encourage more international experts to work here," Zhang said.

He declined to elaborate on what criteria applicants will need to meet.

Liu Guofu, an immigration law specialist at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the government is targeting key groups.

These include candidates with management experience at leading multinationals, specialists in education and science-related fields and renowned figures in culture and sport.

Ministerial departments have been gauging feedback from specialists, including Liu, since late 2012.

About 550,000 foreign experts were working in China in 2012, Zhang said.

Adam Lane, a 31-year-old Briton, has been working in Beijing for four years and welcomes the visa.

"I need to have my visa renewed every year," he said. "This is not a problem, but the new visa will make things easier. I will probably apply for it."

Liu said the visa change will help attract international experts, but sharp focus must be maintained to get the right people for the economy.

"The regulation should list specific fields and expertise that the country urgently needs," he said.

Being employed in China should not be a prerequisite, Liu suggested.

"Talented professionals who want to work in China but don't have a job should also be granted a multiyear visa. This would help attract more global talent."

Liu said policies should also allow visa holders the chance of permanent residency after working in the country for a certain period of time.

The bar is set high for "green card" applicants.

Successful applicants must meet certain criteria, including a three-year record of investment in China or hold a post equal to or above that of a deputy general manager or associate professor for four years or have made a significant contribution to the country.

High-level foreign experts recruited via a project operated by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs are also entitled to apply for permanent residency.

The project started in 2011 and aims to introduce up to 1,000 foreign professionals over 10 years to help the country spur innovation, and promote scientific research and corporate management.

There have been 94 recruitments under the project.

The government is considering lowering the threshold for permanent residency.

The Ministry of Public Security is drawing up a draft regulation, which may make foreigners who work in China for 10 consecutive years eligible for a green card.

Foreigners who obtain permanent residency have the same pension, employment and property rights as Chinese nationals under a regulation released in December.

China started to grant permanent residency permits to foreigners in 2004. Since then, nearly 5,000 have received the permits.

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