A special service center was launched in Beijing on March 1 offering permanent residence services to foreigners in the Zhongguancun high-tech hub as authorities seek to attract more overseas talent and investment.
The center will offer visa, residential permit and permanent residence services to foreigners who start businesses or are employed in the Zhongguancun National Demonstration Zone.
The center, in the capital’s Haidian district, opened as 20 new measures were introduced on March 1 to ease procedures for bringing in foreign talent.
Wang Xi, deputy head of Beijing Public Security Bureau’s Exit-Entry Department, said the center would serve as a pilot program. Experience gained from the program would help to promote similar services throughout the city, or even nationwide.
“Restrictions have been relaxed to enable more foreign talent to come here to start new businesses,” he said.
The policy will benefit top foreign professionals, overseas Chinese who graduate from foreign universities and start businesses in Beijing, foreign students in the capital and foreigners who work for entrepreneurial startups in the city, Wang said.
Under the evaluation system drafted by the Beijing Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, expatriates can apply for a permanent residence permit after working in Beijing for four consecutive years. They must have remained in the capital for at least six months each year.
They must also earn at least 500,000 yuan ($76,400) annually and pay at least 100,000 yuan in tax each year.
Wang said the permanent residence requirements were drafted after taking into account the average income level in the capital. “The evaluation system also includes market factors,” he said.
On March 1, the center’s service window attracted a number of foreigners making permanent residence and visa inquiries.
It also received four applications for permanent residence from foreigners, according to a staff member at the center who asked not to be identified.
Huang Ying, a United States citizen and vice-president of the Cloud and Intelligent Computing Department at Lenovo Research & Technology, was the first expatriate to apply for permanent residence at the center.
Huang said the application procedure took about one and a half hours and was simpler than he expected.
“Without permanent residence, it takes about 20 work days to apply for a work visa, and the approval process takes about a month. That means you must spend at least two months on the application process,” he said.
Huang, a native of Shanghai, went to the United States in 1986 and later became a US citizen.
Andreas Haufe, a German citizen and manager at Beijing Benz Automotive, said he expects the center will help the company solve visa problems for its foreign employees.
“We appreciate the opening of the new center. We have about 250 colleagues who have to renew their visas every year. ... It is a question of time for our HR department to go to different visa offices for this task,” he said.