China eases residence rules for ‘elite professionals’

The Chinese government will make it easier for foreign workers to obtain permanent residency, in a move to attract “more international talent”, the Chinese state-controlled news agency Xinhua has reported.

Quoting a statement by the Ministry of Public Security, Xinhua said the Chinese government needed to attract more “elite professionals” from overseas to ensure “continued economic and social development”.

“China’s permanent residence policy should be further improved, in light of the need for more foreign talent as well as the need of foreigners working in China to apply for the permits and lead a convenient life,” Xinhua quoted the government as saying.

A “circular” issued by the Communist Party of China said it was considering changes such as grading applicants’ qualifications based on their salaries, taxes and social scores, and allowing more entities to employ permit applicants.

It is looking at making it easier to convert a work permit to a permanent residence permit, as well as relaxing rules that prevent “outstanding” overseas students from working in China. Such students would be given channels to apply for permanent residence, the report said.

Government website quoted the circular as saying: “Red tape will be cut in examining and approving applications for permanent residence. For high-level professionals and foreigners who have made outstanding contributions, application requirements should be simplified and waiting time for approval shortened.”

According to, the Beijing government website, permanent residency is currently only open to foreigners who are “high level” experts holding a post in a business “that promotes China’s economic, scientific and technological development, or social progress”. Foreigners who have made “outstanding contributions, or are of special importance”, or who have invested more than $500,000 in China are also eligible.

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