What is the change? Shanghai has started implementing several new policies aimed at attracting foreign professionals in the science and technology fields to live and work in China’s most populous city.

What does the change mean? Foreign residents recognized as talents can become permanent residents more easily, approved high-level professionals in science and technology are eligible for five-year residence permits, and foreign graduates and entrepreneurs looking to start companies in Shanghai are immediately eligible for temporary residency.

  • Implementation time frame: The measures took effect July 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work (Z) visas, Residence Permits, Foreign Talent (R) visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign experts, senior-level professionals, graduates and entrepreneurs in Shanghai.
  • Impact on processing times: The rules simplify procedures for certain foreign nationals by reducing the number of steps in the process or lengthening residency periods.
  • Business impact: The simplification of rules is intended to stimulate innovation in Shanghai and retain foreign experts who have already worked in Shanghai for a period of time.

Background: The changes affect the following categories:

  1. Foreign experts approved as a “high-level professional” or hired for five-year assignments by a company on the science and technology innovation list may apply for five-year residence permits.
  2. Foreign nationals whose residence permit are marked as “Talent” and who have worked in Shanghai for three successive years may directly apply for permanent residence permits.
  3. Foreign nationals in Shanghai who have applied twice for residence permits that are each valid for at least one year may apply for five-year residence permits on the third application.
  4. Foreign nationals employed for four successive years by the following list of companies may apply for permanent residence permits: National Laboratory, State Key Laboratory, National Engineering Laboratory, National Engineering Research Center, Technology Center of National Recognized Corporations, National Engineering Technology Research Center, Research and Development Center of Foreign Investment Corporations.
  5. Foreign graduates who intend to start an innovative company in Shanghai may apply directly for a two-year “personal affairs” residence permit (without applying for a work permit); those employed by a company may apply for a work permit and then residence permit.
  6. Foreign nationals who hold an employment/expert license may apply directly for a one-year residence permit or a Z work visa at the port of entry, followed by a residence permit after entry; those who are not able to apply for an employment license may apply for a personal affairs visa upon arrival with appropriate documentation and then a residence permit after entry.
  7. Foreign domestic helpers may apply for personal affairs residence permits to perform “household services” if they are sponsored by a foreign high-level professional or entrepreneur who holds a residence permit.

BAL Analysis: Because immigration procedures in China can be lengthy and complicated, the new rules should reduce red tape and incentivize top-tier and new foreign talent to stay in Shanghai.

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

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