What is the change? The Shanghai Public Security Bureau has announced several new immigration policies to simplify visa application processes for foreign employees, especially foreign talents working in high-tech and innovative sectors.

What does the change mean? Among the changes, Shanghai will streamline permanent-residence procedures for foreign talents, simplify visa-application procedures for students, investors and others, and broaden the visa waiver and visa on arrival programs.

  • Implementation time frame: July 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Z visas, residence permits.
  • Who is affected: Companies sponsoring foreign employees in Shanghai; foreign high-tech employees, entrepreneurs and students in Shanghai.
  • Impact on processing times: The provisions should simplify processing for companies and foreign employees in qualifying industries.
  • Business impact: The changes should improve procedures for obtaining work authorization in Shanghai that are currently lengthy and complicated.
  • Next steps: BAL is in contact with Shanghai municipal government agencies and will report additional details as they become available.

Details: The main changes are:

  1. Streamlining procedures for foreign talents in Shanghai to obtain green cards or long-term stay visas by:
    • Boosting talent recognition and improving permanent residence permit application procedures.
    • Allowing foreigners who have renewed residence permits twice to apply for five-year residence permits the third time.
  2. Simplifying visa-application procedures in Shanghai by:
    • Allowing foreign students who graduate from a Chinese university and who intend to stay in Shanghai for work to apply for two-year residence permits under the “personal affairs” category.
    • Encouraging foreign students to start high-tech and innovative businesses.
    • Simplifying the work authorization process for foreign investors and entrepreneurs who create high-tech and innovative companies.
    • Simplifying procedures for Hong Kong and Macau talents and their dependents to work and reside in Shanghai.
  3. Adding flexibility to the visa upon arrival and visa waiver programs by:
    • Granting port visas (visas upon arrival) to a wider range of senior-level foreign employees and foreign experts.
    • Allowing transiting travelers to extend 72-hour visa waivers to 144 hours.
    • Considering inclusion of cruise passengers in the visa waiver program.

BAL Analysis: The changes are welcome news for companies and foreign employees in Shanghai and could lead the way for other jurisdictions to follow suit with similar changes. While the changes appear to benefit most companies in Shanghai, the impact of the changes and qualifying criteria will be clearer once implemented.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in China. For additional information, please contact

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