Shanghai issued its first single unified work permit to a foreigner on Nov 3, as the city kicked off a pilot program to ease the burden of highly skilled expats getting work in Shanghai.
The new permit replaces the Alien Employment Permit and Foreign Experts Certificate, issued by two different government agencies, for which an expat had to spend up to months to obtain.
Shanghai is the country’s first city to launch the new system amid efforts to attract more foreign talent to speed up its development as a scientific and technological innovation hub.
“I appreciate that the Chinese administration is aware that to attract world-class talent, they need to make it easy and straightforward for foreigners,” said Joaquim Nassar, French dean of SJTU-Paris Tech Elite Institute of Technology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the first to receive the permit.
Shanghai will take a leading role in the country to explore an internationally competitive talent mechanism while gathering experience, Zhao Zhuping, head of the Shanghai Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security, said at the news briefing on Nov 3 and issuance ceremony.
He said the single unified work permit will eventually be applied across China to unify the management of foreigners working in China.
Figures provided by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and National Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of resident foreign experts in Shanghai bloomed to 93,000 at the end of last year, up from 88,000 in 2013.
Last year, the city approved about 150,000 employment permits and expert certificates, involving nearly 40,000 employers.
From now on, the single unified work permit will become a legal document for foreigners to work in China, while each expat will have a unique identification number for life. In the future, the permit will also be recognized by foreign affairs, public security, customs, tax, education and human resources agencies.
Under the program, highly skilled expats will not need to submit applications before entering China, and they only need to complete an online application after being recruited to work in Shanghai.
Expats who have applied at least twice for a one-year work permit will be eligible for a five-year work permit, making the process more convenient.