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August 19, 2009

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Home » Metro » Society

Rules tighten on residence permits

ZHU Xinyi, a 23-year-old woman who has just graduated from Nanjing City in Jiangsu Province and is now working for an IT company in Shanghai, became confused by a new notice board when she went to get her residence card yesterday.

She had all the relevant paperwork from her employer but the rules had changed.

"Individuals can no longer apply for Shanghai residence cards themselves," the notice said.

The municipal government on Monday strengthened the management of Shanghai residence cards for Chinese from outside the city.

New rules mean all applications must be submitted by employers representing employees from outside Shanghai and no agents are allowed to be involved in the procedure.

Employers and applicants must also both sign documentation to guarantee the authenticity of material submitted.

If bogus material is discovered, Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau officials can cancel the rights for offending applicants to have the cards and blacklist them in the social credit system.

The notice said all employers must publicly display the name list of people receiving residence cards.

Zhu had to take down all the requirements and steps of the application process so she can tell her employers how to apply for her and expressed concerns about the new system.

"It will cost the company a lot of time and about 900 yuan (US$132) to apply for the residence card for me," said Zhu.

One of her schoolmates was turned down by the same firm because "the boss would rather employ local graduates than spending time and money on the application for city outsiders if we cannot apply for it ourselves," said Zhu.

Shanghai residence cards are usually granted to those who land a full-time job in the city.

Card holders are entitled to the same benefits as locals, such as health care insurance and children's education in the city.

Children of people holding residence cards are eligible for compulsory and high school education and can take part in university entrance examinations in the city.

Previously, individual applicants were able to apply for residence cards themselves with documents provided by employers.

But the practice left loopholes for unscrupulous agents who made fake documents to earn residence permits for clients.

Some agents were charging up to 70,000 yuan to get the whole process done.

In April, controversy arose when nearly 1,000 students who were about to take college or high school entrance exams in Shanghai were rejected from renewing residence permits as their parents did not live or work in the city.

"By stopping individual applications, the government aims to thwart parents who obtain cards with fake material to get their children into a local school," Wang Daben, an expert on demography from East China Normal University, told Shanghai Daily.

"Many agents have taken advantage of regulations and made fake residence cards for exam candidates whose parents don't live or work in Shanghai."

Zhang said stopping individual applications would cause problems for some employers, especially small firms with a registered capital of under 1 million yuan because they were not qualified to apply for residence cards for employees.

"Local graduates will be preferred next time we recruit employees," said a 32-year-old manager surnamed Wu from a foreign trading company.

Security guards at the application center said police had intensified patrols of the area and detained some illegal agents distributing leaflets promoting fake documentation.


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