What is the change? Chinese central authorities have announced guidelines to ease rules for the Foreign Talent (R) visa for high-level foreign professionals in science, international enterprises and other high-demand fields to develop the economy.

What does the change mean? The guidelines will allow qualifying professionals to obtain multiple-entry Foreign Talent visas of up to 180 days per stay with a validity of five or 10 years, and spouses and children would be eligible for the same visas. Applications may be filed online processed in five working days. Chinese authorities say the processing fee will be waived.

  • Implementation time frame: To be determined.
  • Visas/permits affected: R Foreign Talent visas.
  • Who is affected: High-level foreign professionals.
  • Impact on processing times: An expedited processing time of five working days (instead of the current 10 days) would apply.
  • Business impact: The changes will provide greater flexibility for individuals who qualify as high-level foreign talent and are intended to attract more top international talent to China.
  • Next steps: Local authorities will need to implement the guidelines, define which skills qualify as “high level talents” and refine their procedures.

Background: The guidelines were issued jointly by three central authorities—the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security—and are intended to attract “top scientists, international enterprises and other talents with specific high-level skills that are in need in the development of the economy and society of China.”

Individual provinces are expected to implement the central authorities’ guidelines by clarifying definitions, criteria and procedures.

In Shanghai, for example, foreign “high-level professionals” are currently defined as being famous award winners or nominees, renowned experts or scholars with outstanding talent, outstanding professionals within an organization, or others with special talents or possessing skills deemed to be in shortage in Shanghai.

BAL Analysis: The guidelines will benefit top foreign professionals, especially in science, technology and other innovative fields, allowing faster processing, longer visits, and more flexibility for family members. BAL is following this development and will report further details as they become available.

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

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