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December 10, 2016

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Green card rules help overseas students

A SLEW of new measures to further ease green card rules for foreign professionals in Shanghai was announced by city authorities yesterday.

People working for companies and universities at Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone and Shanghai Free Trade Zone will be the main beneficiaries.

The new measures will give foreigners working in these zones a fast track to apply for the Chinese green card.

Under the new rules, “top foreign talent” — highly skilled professionals — can now apply for the card with a letter of recommendation from the administration committees of the two zones.

They will receive a reply from the city’s exit-entry administration authorities within 50 working days. Previously applicants had to wait up to six months to get a card.

No longer will these applicants have to work for at least three years before they can apply for the card.

Ma Wengang, an official of the administration committee at Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone, said “top foreign talent” covered award winners, professionals imported via state programs, “well-known” experts, scholars and entrepreneurs. The new measures will also ease visa rules for highly skilled professionals with at least a master’s degree or those who are employed or invited by companies, research institutes and higher education institutions in the two zones.

These people will be allowed to apply for a “talent visa” on arrival in Shanghai and a work permit afterward.

This rule, which also applies to Yangpu District and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, significantly increases the availability of China’s talent visa. Yangpu and Jiao Tong are considered national “demonstration areas for entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Ma said the measures took effect from yesterday, but further details are pending approval by the Ministry of Public Security and are expected to be published within a few days.

There are about 45,000 foreigners working and studying at Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone, which has 22 sub-zones distributed across Shanghai.

Foreigners with a working residence permit applying for a green card can have their spouse and children under 18 apply for the card at the same time.

Foreign pupils admitted to elementary and middle schools in Shanghai can apply for a study visa on arrival and a study permit afterward if they don’t have time to apply before leaving their home countries.

The new measures have also eased visa rules for home helpers of foreign professionals with a residence permit or green card.

The permit for hiring foreign home helpers is no longer restricted to holders of the green card and five-year work permit. Now anyone with a work permit in China can hire them, and if the home helpers don’t have time to apply for a visa abroad, they can apply on arrival in Shanghai.

Furthermore, foreign applicants for green cards who need to produce papers, such as showing a clean criminal record and marital status, can now get those papers, if available, via their home country’s embassy or consulates in China.

Ji Minghua, vice president of the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, which has about 500 foreign professionals, said he expected the new measures would enable up to 100 foreign employees at his company to get a green card every year, up from 50 currently.

“The convenience for getting a green card for their family members is very attractive,” Ji said.


Chen Wei, vice president of Hua Hong Semiconductor Co, said the reforms were good news for long-term foreign employees at his company whose family members don’t have green cards.

The new measures also enable high-tech companies in Shanghai to hire foreign interns from higher education institutions abroad.

Students from foreign universities listed on the website of China’s Ministry of Education can apply for an internship visa on arrival in the city or do it while in Shanghai if they are already in the city.

Meanwhile, foreign students studying in universities in Shanghai can now start a business at Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone, Shanghai Free Trade Zone and Yangpu District under the recommendation from the universities by applying for a study permit allowing “entrepreneurship.”

The reforms have largely eased visa and green card rules for overseas Chinese, by definition former Chinese citizens, and their foreign-born heirs or foreign-born heirs to Chinese citizens.

According to the rules, they can apply for a green card as long as they have a doctorate degree or have worked at Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone, Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Yangpu District or Shanghai Jiao Tong University for a consecutive four years and have lived in China for at least six months every year during that period.

The visa duration for business, study or visit purposes for this category of people has also been extended.

The new measures have also eased the regulations for investors who want to apply for a green card.


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