What is the change? Shanghai has published new immigration regulations intended to attract and retain high-level foreign talent and promote Shanghai as a center of science, technology and innovation.

What does the change mean?  The published regulations follow recent changes to Shanghai’s immigration policy.

  • Implementation time frame: The regulations took effect Aug. 5 and are valid until Aug. 4, 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work (Z) visa, Expert permit, Resident permit,Talent (R) visa, Shanghai B card.
  • Who is affected: Employers in Shanghai recruiting foreign professionals, especially in science and technology; foreign students graduating from a university in Shanghai with a master’s degree or higher.
  • Impact on processing times: The rules may reduce overall processing because some procedures have been simplified and the durations for certain permit holders have been lengthened, thus reducing the frequency of renewal applications.
  • Business impact: The positive rules reflect a desire by authorities in Shanghai to make it easier for high-level foreign experts to live and work in Shanghai.

Background: The key provisions are:

  • Foreign “high-level professionals” are 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.
  • A high-level professional who has been approved by the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau may apply for a five-year residence permit marked as “Talent” without an age limit. After renewing for three consecutive years, the holder may apply for permanent residence.
  • Under a pilot program, Talent (R) visas will provide a path to residency for high-level professionals coming to Shanghai for science and technology cooperation, scholarly exchange, and innovation and entrepreneurship. The Shanghai Expert Bureau will issue foreign-expert permits valid for two to five years to long-term R visa holders based on the length of their employment contract.
  • Foreign students who graduate with a master’s degree or higher from a university in Shanghai and agree to work in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone or Shanghai Zhang Jiang High-Tech Zone may apply for a work permit and one-year residence permit immediately after graduating.
  • Foreign entrepreneurs in science, technology and innovation may apply for a Shanghai overseas Talent Residence Card (B Card) which will be valid for 10 years.
  • A one-stop processing center will accept applications for work permits and expert permits, with a dedicated counter for information and verification.
  • Foreign nationals who have continuously worked in Shanghai for two years and renewed their residence permits twice may apply for a five-year residence permit the third time.

BAL Analysis: The regulations should benefit foreign workers, scholars and entrepreneurs in science and technology, eliminating some bureaucratic layers in obtaining work and residence permits in Shanghai.

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

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