Applications for work permits for top overseas talent will be streamlined next year to attract more skilled foreigners, according to a senior government official.
R visas, which China issues to foreign experts whose skills are in urgent demand, could also be made free, said Zhang Jianguo, head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.
“Supporting policies will also cover an expatriate’s spouse and children, giving them a quick pass to get the visa,” he added.
Zhang said the Chinese government values talent more than ever before: “The contribution by expats to China’s development cannot go unnoticed, and we are always welcoming top overseas talent to realize their aspirations in this country.”
Expat residents entered or left the country more than 900,000 times last year, and over 3.3 million times in the past five years, according to the administration.
For top talent, applications for work permits now can be done online without any paperwork. The time it takes to complete the procedure has also been reduced from 10 to five working days. A work permit must be secured before the R visa application.
In Shanghai, modern technologies have been introduced to make the application more convenient. For example, applicants can now book an appointment at application centers using a smartphone app, which displays the time slots available, to avoid wasted trips.
In some pilot cities, such as Shanghai, work permits are also granted to overseas students, encouraging those with excellent performance at school to carry out an internship and work in China after graduation.
“We’ve seen big progress in terms of policies to recruit more overseas talent. Those preferential policies reveal the country’s openness and inclusiveness, which a great power should demonstrate to the world,” Zhang said.
He said China still lags behind some developed countries in attracting more top talent and should take more time to build better educational and environmental conditions, increasing scientific research funds and scholarships.
In the past five years, visa categories have been geared to international standards, increasing from eight to 12 during the past five years.
Also, a point system has been introduced for categorizing work permit applicants. Indicators include education and work background, academic certificates, age and salaries. For those who get more than 85 points, a working permit for top talent will be assigned.
“To many expats, China is a fertile land with a promising future and more possibilities,” Zhang said. “We will pursue a more proactive, open and effective policy on training competent professionals, as General Secretary Xi Jinping said in his report at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and further strengthen the mechanism to attract more overseas talent to pursue the great endeavor of the Party and the people.”