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9 Jul, 2012

China Creates New Visa Category to Attract Overseas Talent

People's Daily Online

Beijing, July 09, 2012 – On June 30, the 11th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, passed a new Exit-Entry Administration Law at its 27th meeting. One of the highlights of the new law is a new visa category titled “talent introduction” which aims to attract talented individuals from overseas.

The Chinese government has long attached great importance to attracting oversea talent to work in China. The “talent introduction” visa category will provide a convenient green channel for overseas talented people who are interested in working in China.

More and more overseas Chinese people of foreign nationalities are returning to work in China. They are nicknamed “seagulls” because they often fly between China and other countries.

“I came back to start my own business. I want to apply what I have learned aboard in the business, and do my bit to promote domestic technological transformation,” said Dr. Wu Wei, a “seagull” and a co-founder of Wuxi-based Cynovo Inc.

Wu returned from the Silicon Valley to Wuxi, Jiangsu province in August 2008 to start a business and serve the country. Visa problems are a constant annoyance to him. Wu had not completed the registration of his business prior to his return to Wuxi, and had to apply for a three-month, single-entry visa as he was not eligible for a work visa. “Seagulls” come back to start their own business, with many of their customers located abroad. It is inconvenient and annoying to have to renew their visa on a business trip.

Visa problems can bring inconvenience to both work and life in China. Wu, who started his business a few years ago, have benefited from the Wuxi’s “530” talent introduction program and Jiangsu province’s entrepreneurship program, and now holds a two-year work visa. However, his wife and son still live on a three-month visa. “It is fine. We just feel we are not accepted by our motherland, and do not have a sense of belonging,” Wu said. Many “seagulls” feel the same way.

According to statistics from the United Nations, more than 30 countries had introduced policies for enhancing travel convenience and making visa processing easier for talented individuals as of 2005, including 17 developed countries such as the United States as well as 13 emerging and developing countries. More and more countries are easing visa requirements to attract overseas talent.

For importing talents, the significance of the visa is obvious. Wu went to the United States after he obtained the doctor’s degree in France. He said, “Since the France implemented a strict policy on the visa, my wife and child could not come to France with me. Not long ago, I found a piece of news, saying that France has loosened its policy on the talent work visa. If France implemented this loose visa policy at that time, I probably would have stayed in France.”

“We are living in an era when talents and technicians flow frequently. The ‘talent visa’ issued by the Chinese government is a positive signal for overseas talents and technicians.” The director of the Center for China and Globalization Wang Huiyao said, “This measure not only reflects that the Chinese government attaches great importance to importing overseas talents, but also accords with international conventions.”

The talent visa has started issuing and the “green card” still needs to be improved

According to sources, the talent visa includes the talent work visa and talent immigrant visa. But currently, China has only the talent work visa and does not have the talent immigrant visa which is commonly seen in foreign countries. Regarding this, Wang said that he hopes China could keep loosening its visa policy and keep upgrading its talent work visa.

Meanwhile, China should allow overseas talents with special qualities to change their work visas into immigrant visas and it should be the beginning for overseas talents to apply for “green cards” of China.

The head of the Beijing Great Wall Enterprise Institute Wang Delu also said that a lot of countries regard attracting talents as goals of their visas and usually issue visas according to industries, specialties and education backgrounds of the talents needed by them. For example, the United States has a preferential policy for overseas IT talents. China should learn from these countries in issuing the visa and make a bolder breakthrough for its visa policy.

“China’s current visas for overseas talents are all temporary visas and extending the visa is a troublesome thing every time.” A part-time researcher from the China Institute for Science and Technology Policy under the Tsinghua University Dong Jielin believes that issuing only the talent visa will not be able to really keep overseas talents, because the lack of the sense of belonging makes overseas talents not regard themselves as real insiders, and the short-term state of mind will not lead to the short-term behavior.

In order to really keep overseas talents and help them make innovations and start careers in China more conveniently, China still needs to improve its “green card.” Wang said that, “Currently, the ‘green card’ of China still faces many issues. For examples, the standards for applying for it are still too high, its range of application is small, and its relevant treatments are still unclear, and therefore, it still needs improving.” However, the newly-issued talent visa of ordinary visas is a good start.