Beijing has become the country’s second city to ease procedures for bringing highly qualified foreign talent, and experts said other cities nationwide will follow.
The Ministry of Public Security announced on Jan 12 a pilot policy for Beijing, especially for its high-tech hub Zhongguancun, to facilitate foreigners in entering and staying in the capital.
The policy, consisting of 20 new measures that will take effect on March 1, targets specific groups of foreigners: high-end foreign professionals, overseas Chinese who graduated from foreign universities and start businesses in Beijing, foreign students in the capital and foreigners who work for entrepreneurial startups in the city.
The policy marks the nation’s second pilot program, after the Shanghai Technology Innovation Center was granted 12 favorable policies in July. The move is intended to attract more overseas high-level talent to Beijing, especially to the Zhongguancun National Demonstration Zone, to provide a steady stream of foreign talent for scientific and technological innovations, said the ministry’s Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration.
The policy will be implemented first in Zhongguancun, a high-tech hub of the capital that covers 488 square kilometers and has more than 20,000 companies.
The bureau also said the pilot policy is meant to serve the development of Zhongguancun and will meet Beijing’s demand to build a national science and technology innovation center.
The Center for China and Globalization is the only think tank to participate in making the policies. Its director, Wang Huiyao, who also is president of the South China Global Talent Institute, said the policies are a breakthrough.
Wang said overseas Chinese with a doctoral degree received in other countries will be given permanent residency, no matter how long they stay in the capital. Foreigners who have worked for companies in Zhongguancun for four years, with at least a six-month stay each year, will be given the permit as well.
“The threshold will be lowered for overseas Chinese and high-end foreign talent, which is definitely a real benefit for them,” he said.
The ministry said visitors from some countries will be allowed 144-hour, visa-free stays in the capital. Wang said that six days is more than enough time to attend conferences or travel to Beijing, and that previously the visa application process was a headache for international conference organizers.
Wang said Beijing’s policies were announced only half a year after Shanghai’s and will be duplicated by other cities or areas that have high-tech zones or free trade zones, such as Tianjin.
Highlights of pilot policy for Beijing
The Ministry of Public Security will take the following steps to facilitate the work application and permanent residence procedures for expats in Beijing, especially in the Zhongguancun National Demonstration Zone:
1. The ministry will set up a service desk in Zhongguancun to shorten the time in which applications are approved.
2. Foreign students at higher-education institutions in Beijing will be allowed to have part-time jobs and start their own businesses in Zhongguancun.
3. Students from overseas universities will be allowed to have short-term internships in Zhongguancun.
4. The ministry will streamline the process for foreigners employed by startup companies in Zhongguancun to get visas issued by ports of entry and long-term residence permits.
5. The ministry will provide easier access to permanent residency for foreigners with doctoral degrees.