China to offer five-year visas to attract talented foreigners

In a bid to attract talented foreigners, China will soon start issuing multiple-entry visas, valid for up to five years instead of the present rule of one year.

The fresh regulation was endorsed by five ministry-level departments in late September and released yesterday, stipulates that four groups of international professionals can benefit from the new long-term visa.

Zhang Jianguo, Director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said that foreigners must already be employed to apply for the visa.

"We hope the visas will encourage more international experts to work here," Zhang told China Daily.

Currently all foreigners working in China are issued one year "permanent resident" visas which needed to be renewed every year.

Liu Guofu, an immigration law specialist at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the government is targeting key groups like those in managerial positions in the

multinationals, specialists in education and science-related fields and renowned figures in culture and sport.

Ministerial departments have been gauging feedback from specialists, since late 2012, he said.

Currently about 5.5 lakh foreign experts were working inChina, Zhang said.

According to Liu, the visa change will help attract international experts, but sharp focus must be maintained to get the right people for the economy.

"The regulation should list specific fields and expertise that the country urgently needs," he said.

"Talented professionals who want to work in China but don't have a job should also be granted a multi-year visa. This would help attract more global talent," he said.

The policies should also allow visa holders the chance of permanent residency after working in the country for a certain period of time, he said.

The government is considering lowering the threshold for permanent residency, the Daily said.

The Ministry of Public Security is drawing up a draft regulation, which may make foreigners who work in China for 10 consecutive years eligible for a green card.

Foreigners who obtain permanent residency have the same pension, employment and property rights as Chinese nationals under a regulation released in December.

China started to grant permanent residency permits to foreigners in 2004. Since then, nearly 5,000 have received the permits

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