Expats urged to apply for green card as Beijing launches merit system

Pedro Gonçalves
Expats urged to apply for green card as Beijing launches merit system

Foreign workers in Beijing who plan to use the city’s new merit-based point system to get permanent residency are being urged to apply between July 23 and 31 this year, according to the authority of Zhongguancun, a high-tech hub in Beijing.

There are usually only two windows of opportunity each year to apply under the merit system, said Liu Qiang, director of a service center for foreigners set up by the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s exit and entry administration in Zhongguancun.

Adopted in 2016, the merit system offers a channel through which foreign professionals can apply for China’s ‘green card’.

The merit system mainly benefits two types of expats – foreign members at startups registered with Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park and top foreign technology professionals who have been hired by companies in Zhongguancun, Liu told local newspaper, China Daily.

An expert panel organised by Zhongguancun’s management committee will review materials provided by the applicants’ companies. The panel will give points based on factors such as an applicant’s education, age, experience and the demand for certain technological know-how.

If applicants get more than 70 of 100 possible points, a recommendation letter can be issued for a green card. The letter, in turn, can be used to get a green card at the service center. The procedure can be completed within 180 days.

China began issuing permanent residency permits in 2004. The merit system was adopted to attract more foreign talent and facilitate the development of Zhongguancun.

“It simplified the process and provided more choices for top foreign professionals to have a stable living situation in China,” Liu said.

Apart from the merit system, expats can also apply for permanent residency if they have worked in Beijing for four consecutive years and remained in the capital for at least six months each year. They must also earn at least 500,000 yuan ($75,500) annually and pay at least 100,000 yuan in tax each year.

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