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4 May, 2013

China Bids to Attract Talent: Five-year Visas for Foreigners on Way

By CHEN XIN (China Daily)

Beijing, 2013-05-04 – Foreign talent will soon be eligible for China visas valid for up to five years, under a draft regulation. The draft was released by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council on Friday, and public opinion is being sought for a month. It states that China will grant two new types of visa, R1 and R2, for foreign professionals.

Both types will be granted to foreign talent and professionals at senior level that the country urgently needs, according to the draft. A R1 visa will come with residency rights, while a R2 visa will allow multiple entry and exits.

Liu Guofu, an immigration law specialist at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said R1 visa holders can apply for a residence permit for up to five years, while a R2 visa will allow professionals to stay in China for 180 days at a time. The regulation will be implemented under the Exit and Entry Administration Law, which takes effect in July.

Visa holders should be experts recognized by provincial-level governments and above, and professionals that China urgently needs, according to the regulation.

Earlier rules endorsed by five ministry-level departments state that foreign professionals working on projects carried out by central government departments and centrally administered enterprises, and talent introduced through provincial-level recruitment programs, can benefit from the new long-term visas.

The new State Council regulation does not specify groups that China urgently needs and which are eligible for “talent visas”. But Liu said a draft in which ministerial departments had assessed feedback from specialists, including Liu, shows they include candidates with management experience at leading multinationals, specialists in education and science-related fields, and renowned figures in culture and sport.

“The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security or the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs may soon release the list of target groups,” Liu said.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, said the new visas will help attract overseas talent. “The regulation will especially lure those who work in other countries but want to spend time working in China,” he said.

Wang said that in the past China had focused a great deal on how to manage foreigners working in or visiting the country when making or amending visa-related laws and regulations.

Rule: ‘Green card’ mulled

But now the country is aiming to attract global talent by providing more convenient visa policies, like many other countries, including the United States.

Quintus Doamekpor, a 34-year-old from Ghana, has been working in China for 11 years. He married a Chinese, has a daughter and works as a language teacher at a school in Yuncheng, Shanxi province. Doamekpor said he has a foreign expert certificate, and his visa must be renewed every year.

“I hope to know more requirements for the new visa application and I want to be included,” he said. “My ultimate aim is to obtain a permanent residence permit.”

Liu has suggested that policies should give “talent visa” holders the chance of permanent residency after they have worked in China for a certain period. The government is considering lowering the threshold for permanent residency.

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

Meanwhile, the State Council regulation states that visa management bureaus and entry-and-exit management bureaus under public security departments can keep fingerprints of foreigners who enter China.