China has announced a 10-year visa for “high-end talent” meant to encourage specialists such as top scientists and entrepreneurs in technology-intensive sectors to live and work in China.
Under the new rules announced by the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs, foreign applicants who qualify as high-end talent will be issued a 5- or 10-year visa in as little as five working days. Other perks include an application process that can be completed online, a visa fee waiver, 180-day stays for a single entry, and a same-day visa permit approval for spouses and children.
The roll-out of the new rules began on January 1, 2018, with the bureau of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs issuing the country’s first Certificate for Foreign High-end Talent on that same day. It is estimated that at least 50,000 foreigners will take advantage of the new rules over the course of the year.
Win a Nobel Prize, get a Chinese ‘green card’
China has set out aggressive goals for its economic and social development, and by issuing new visa rules, it is implementing a policy to expand the pool of foreign specialists working in China.
In 2016, the central government relaxed the country’s green card rules, extending eligibility for permanent residency to foreigners working in broader fields, and not just governmental organizations involved in “key national projects.”
Later that same year, it introduced a ranking system for expatriates aimed at identifying the skills it wanted to attract, while reducing the number of lower-skilled foreigners coming into the country.
The skills that China wants to attract were revealed with the new visa rules, and include, among others, Nobel Prize winners, chief or deputy editors in Chinese state media, foreign coaches and players in national and provincial sports teams, and postdoctoral students from world-class universities outside of China.
High-end talent also includes foreigners who earn at least six times the average annual wage in China. In Beijing in 2016, this amounted to 92,477 yuan or US$14,228.
By issuing new visa rules, the central government is sending a clear signal to the world that it welcomes top talent, and that it’s willing to create favorable conditions for such talent to live and work in China.