What is the change? China has announced 12 new immigration measures aimed at encouraging social and economic development.

What does the change mean? Under the measures, China will provide permanent residence to a broader group of applicants, issue more long-term visas and residence permits, provide immigration incentives to foreign students and recent graduates and establish immigration affairs service centers in areas with high numbers of foreign nationals.

  • Implementation time frame: The changes took effect Aug. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent residence, long-term residence permits, residence permits, graduates of internationally renowned universities, internship visas, among others.
  • Who is affected: The changes will benefit many foreign nationals, including executives, high-skilled employees working in key industries, foreign nationals working at start-ups, foreign academics and researchers and foreign students and recent graduates.
  • Business impact: Officials hope that easing immigration procedures for those listed above will help China meet its labor needs, especially in key sectors including research and innovation and entrepreneurial fields.

Additional information: Officials announced the 12 measures last week, saying:

  1. High-skilled foreign nationals who meet the “special needs” of the Chinese government will be eligible to apply for permanent residence at the Exit-Entry Administration Department of Public Security Bureau (“Exit-Entry Bureau”) upon recommendation from the competent authorities. Foreign spouses and minor children may apply together with applicants.
  2. Foreign nationals working in China for four consecutive years, and living in the country for at least six months in each of the previous four years, whose annual income is no less than six times above the average wage in the region where they work and who pay an income tax of more than 20 percent of the income standard can apply for permanent residence in China. Foreign spouses and minor children may apply together with applicants.
  3. Foreign nationals of Chinese descent who hold a doctoral degree or have worked in key industries in China for at least four consecutive years, and live in China for at least six months out of each year can apply for permanent residence. Foreign spouses and minor children may apply together with applicants.
  4. Foreign experts, scholars and high-level executives who are invited by prominent universities or scientific research institutes, and high-level executives with sought-after skills will apply for port visas at the port visa department of the Public Security Bureau. Upon entry, applicants can apply for a multiple-entry visa or residence permit with validity of up to five years at the Exit-Entry Bureau by presenting supporting documents as requested by the authority.
  5. Foreign nationals working at start-up companies in key industries will be eligible to apply for residence permits of up to five years at the Exit-Entry Bureau by presenting a work permit, a letter from the company and other supporting documentation. Applicants can also apply for their residence permit using a reference letter from their team leader.
  6. Foreign nationals with an outstanding professional track record who meet the “special needs” of the Chinese government can recommend foreign members of the team or research support personnel for long-term visas or residence permits with validity of up to five years.
  7. First-time applicants who have obtained Notification of Work Permit (“NWP”) but have no time to leave the country to apply for a work visa will be able to apply for work residence permits at the Exit-Entry Bureau in China. Those who have applied for work residence permits twice consecutively without any violations of law or regulations will be eligible for a five-year work residence permit for the third renewal.
  8. Highly skilled foreign nationals working in key domestic institutions in higher education or scientific research institutes or at well-established enterprises can accept part-time employment in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship with consent from the relevant employers and the Exit-Entry Bureau.
  9. Outstanding foreign graduates from Chinese universities who are engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship activities in China will be eligible for residence permits valid for two to five years at the Exit-Entry Bureau by presenting university diplomas, an innovation and entrepreneurship certificate and other requested materials.
  10. Foreign students who graduated from internationally renowned universities and come to China to engage in innovation and entrepreneurship activities within two years of graduation are eligible to apply for residence permits valid for up to two years at the Exit-Entry Bureau with evidence of academic records and other requested documentation.
  11. Foreign students from overseas universities who are invited to work in China by well-known domestic enterprises can apply for one-year internship visas at the Exit-Entry Bureau by providing an invitation letter and university certificate, as well as other requested documentation. Foreign students who come to China for an internship in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement can apply for a work residence permit if meeting all criteria.
  12. Immigration service centers will be established in areas with large foreign populations. These centers will provide services including legal assistance, language and cultural activities, and other services that are related to living, working and studying in China.

Analysis & Comments: The 12 new policies are part of a broader package aimed at promoting social and economic development, and could help employers meet labor needs in key areas. These measures will allow a wider range of foreigners to apply for permanent residency, long-term visas and residence permits in China. For foreign students who are invited to work temporarily in China, internships can now be extended from three months (with current visa limitation) to one year with an internship visa.

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