China seeks to lure high-fliers with 10-year visas

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is seeking to attract high-fliers across a wide range of disciplines, from sport to business, by offering attractive new visas for recipients and their dependents. the state-run news agency has reported. 

At first glance, the government guideline’s for the headline categories qualifying as eligible “high-end talent” as announced in the release by Xinhua seems exclusive, mentioning “Nobel prize winners” and foreign coaches and players in national and provincial sports teams.

However, those guidelines  also include postdoctoral students from world-class universities outside China, and foreigners who earn at least six times the average annual wage in China.

This would open up the pool to many figures from the world of business.

The average annual wage in China for 2016 was 67,569 yuan, which equates to an overseas salary of £7,693 or US$10,416, government figures reveal.

The average wage in capital Beijing was 92,477 yuan, or £10,528 (US$14,256).

So, depending on which figures the government chose to use, overseas bankers and advisers on salaries above either £46k or £64k would be eligible to apply for the new visas.

The visas are five-year and 10-year, and are multiple-entry.

They also cover spouses and children.

China’s current visa system is notoriously draconian, with most foreigners required to renew annually.

Before applying for the extended visas, applicants need a “Certificate for Foreign High-end Talent”, which Xinhua stated took as little as one day to process and issue, and is valid for stays of up to 180 days, giving plenty of time to apply for the longer-term ones.

The first such certificate was issued this week by the Beijing bureau of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs said the news agency, though it did not identify the recipient.

Foreign talent seen as critical for success

The policy seems designed to expand the pool of foreign talent that the state sees as essential to driving the economy forward.

As well as scientists sport players and business people, eligible groups include journalists who secure posts either as editors or deputy editors in Chinese state media.

Introducing foreign workers is seen as key to making China a more attractive and dynamic place to work, and China is presently in the middle of its biggest influx of foreign-educated professionals, said Xinhua.

In February last year, the government relaxed its green card rules that allow overseas workers to apply for permanent residency.

And in September Chinese premier Li Keqiang, pictured above, said that China was at a “critical stage of economic restructuring”, which meant that the country had to adopt a more open policy for foreign experts.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Beijing-based Centre for China and Globalisation told the Straits Times: “By issuing the visa regulations, China is sending a signal that it welcomes top talent from across the world and that it’s willing to create conditions for such talent to work and live in China.”

The largest group of beneficiaries are likely to come from the region and north America, with the South China Morning Post stating that in 2016, Japan was the biggest source of foreign workers in Shanghai, followed by the US and South Korea.

The newspaper stated that, of all the provincial-level areas in China, Shanghai has the highest number of foreign workers, with about 215,000 of the city’s 24 million people coming from overseas.



Eugene Costello
Eugene Costello has been a journalist for some 20 years, and has written for a wide variety of UK and international newspapers and magazines.

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