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5-year work visa available in Shanghai to attract talents

Shanghai has begun implementing new permanent residence rules for foreigners. They allow expats to more easily obtain a so-called “Chinese green card”, which in the past was almost impossible to get. Foreigners have already begun trickling to the city’s Exit-Entry Bureau to ask for more information.

US national Paul Whitehead works in a pharmaceutical company in Pudong’s Zhangjiang High-Tech Park. As an executive in his industry, he will be favored by the city’s new residence rules for foreign talent. The new visa rules say highly skilled foreigners in fields like science and innovation will be able to apply for a five-year working visa in Shanghai. Such foreigners will also be able to apply for permanent residence after living in the city for three years.

“I have another six months on my visa, and after that I can make decision. This helps me a lot because now I can stay for longer if I need to stay longer. So the pressure is a little bit reduced and I can make decisions that makes sense. I think it’s definitely easier, and it’s definitely more options so people can really think through how to match what they need from the company perspective as well as the family perspective, and they can balance that with these new rules,” American expat Paul Whitehead said.

Whitehead went to the city’s Exit-Entry Bureau headquarters in Pudong to ask for more information on the new visa rules. Apart from work, he said family is an important reason for him to consider staying longer.

“So if you come here to China and your children are in high school, and you’re reaching the end of your five-year visa and they are about to go to high school, and you’d like to stay longer and see them through high school, then you can. And that’s really important for a family to be able to stay longer,” Paul said.

Mary Dunken from France also came to the bureau to inquire about the new visa policies.

Qualifying under a different aspect of the new rules, high-earning foreigners like Dunken who have worked on the mainland for more than four consecutive years and have lived in the country for at least six months can apply for a permanent residence.

“I’m on a work visa with a long residence permit, but I need to renew every year, so finally the long permit is coming out so I can have a chance to apply for a very long residence,” French expat Mary Dunken said.

Officials say in the past ten years, only around 2,500 foreigners have received permanent residence in Shanghai, mainly because the application criteria were almost impossible to accomplish for most foreigners. But now, officials are confidently saying that new visa policies will largely increase the success rate of applications.