On July 17th of 2019, the Ministry of Public Security held a press conference in Beijing, announcing that 12 policies on immigration and exit-entry facilitation that had been piloted in some areas of 16 provinces and cities would be promoted and implemented nationwide from August 1. According to the new policies, a foreigner may apply for permanent residence if he/she meets the standards of the job, period of residency, salary, and tax.
According to regulations in the past, there were four types of foreigners that could apply for permanent residence ( “China’s green card”): application through employment, investment, special contribution and turning to their relatives.
An employment-type applicant must meet certain requirements regarding the employer type and position level. Specifically, the applicant shall hold a position in entities such as the State Council or people’s government at the provincial level, a key university or college, or a high-tech enterprise. In addition, the applicant shall hold the position of a deputy general manager, factory deputy director or above, or of an associate senior title or above, or enjoy equal treatment with the aforementioned positions. An applicant of special-contribution-type shall have made a great and outstanding contribution to and being specially needed by China. The basketball star Marbury has obtained a “China’s green card” exactly through this channel.
The new policies have lowered the threshold for applicants of employment and special contribution types, granting eligibility for application to the following three categories of foreigners:
1) high-level foreign talents;
2) foreigners working in China who have worked for four consecutive years, lived in China for no less than six months a year, had annual salary no less than six times the local average salary of urban employees of the place where they are located in the preceding year and paid annual individual income tax of more than 20 per cent of their annual salary;
3) Chinese of foreign nationality who have obtained a doctoral degree or who have worked in national key development areas in China for at least four consecutive years and lived in China for at least six months a year.
Among the three new categories, the #2 and #3 categories broaden the scope of the employment-type applicant, covering a relatively wide range of people.
The inclusion of the #2 category of talents has struck down the previous requirements regarding the employer type and position level for an employment-type applicant, making the introduction of foreign talents more suitable for market evaluation and demand. A foreigner who holds a position in an ordinary company without a senior title or a senior leadership position may also apply for permanent residence ever since.
The recognition of the #3 category of talents specifically requires the identity of Chinese of foreign nationality. Compared with other foreigners, Chinese of foreign nationality can be subject to much less rigorous requirements: a Chinese of foreign nationality only needs to have obtained a doctoral degree or meet the requirement of job, period of residency, and location without earning a high salary or paying high tax.
The “national key development areas” specified in the requirement are yet to be clarified. However, with reference to the scope of pilot areas, key development areas should generally include free trade zones, national independent innovation demonstration zones, comprehensive innovation reform demonstration zones, and state-level new zones.
The #1 category of talents can be regarded as an extension of the special-contribution-type applicant, covering a scope of people narrower than the second and third categories. At present, the standards of each place for recognition of “high-level foreign talents” are generally similar with slight differences. In general, high-level foreign talents can be divided into four groups:
1) well-known award winners or finalists of recruitment program of high-level talents;
2) well-known experts and scholars;
3) outstanding talents and professional talents in enterprises;
4) other special talents with special expertise and urgently needed due to local talent shortage.
The so-called “outstanding talents and professional talents in enterprises” mainly refer to senior managerial talents, technical talents and scientific research backbones etc. in state-owned enterprises, high-tech enterprises, multinational corporations, certain types of foreign-funded enterprises and other enterprises with greater scale (higher quota) in practice.