The new policy not only relaxes the application requirements for the “Chinese Green Card”, but also gives more foreigners working in China the opportunity to apply for a “quasi-green card” – a 5-year residence permit.
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In the past, the application requirements for work-based residence permits were set out in the Code of Practice for the Issuance of Visa Documents for Foreigners. According to the Code, only high-level foreign talents, urgent and scarce specialists and investors can apply for a work permit of up to 5 years. Since February 2018, the Ministry of Public Security has implemented a residence facilitation policy for foreign Chinese, who can apply for a maximum of 5-year residence permit to work in China.
The new policy adds the following five categories of foreigners who are entitled to apply for a maximum five-year residence permit: 1) foreign experts and scholars invited by key domestic universities, research institutes and well-known enterprises, as well as foreign high-level management and professional and technical talents identified by the relevant departments of the people’s governments at or above the district level; 2) foreign talents and members of innovation and entrepreneurship teams introduced into key development fields and industries in China; 3) foreign experts and scholars who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the country and who are members of the national government; and 4) foreigners who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the country. (3) foreign members of the working team and scientific research support personnel recommended by foreigners with significant and outstanding contributions and special needs of the country; (4) foreigners who have applied for work-type residence permits for more than one year for two consecutive times without any violation of laws and regulations and apply for work-type residence permits for the third time; (5) foreign outstanding students who have obtained undergraduate degrees or above in key institutions of higher education in China and are engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship in China after graduation (5) Foreign students with undergraduate degrees or above from key institutions of higher education in China who are engaged in innovative and entrepreneurial activities in China after graduation.
Among the five categories, the fourth category covers the widest group of talents. In practice, it is not difficult to apply for a work permit for more than one year. Therefore, foreigners working in China, regardless of their education, income, work and residence time, can basically apply for a work permit for up to five years in the next application, as long as they have applied for a work permit twice in a row.
There are several concepts involved in the criteria for identifying the first three categories of talent, and their reference depends on the specific regulations of each region. For example, in the pilot region, “innovation and entrepreneurship team member” requires not only that the applicant is involved in innovation and entrepreneurship, but also that the applicant is employed in a strategic emerging industry and holds a middle or senior position or more than 5% of the shares in the enterprise.