16 favorable rules for expats in GD

Writer:   | Editor: Jane Chen  | From:  | Updated: 2016-10-17

Starting Aug. 1, Shenzhen introduced 6 favorable exit-entry rules for expats working in the Qianhai and Shekou area of the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and 10 favorable exit-entry rules for expats working in Guangdong to encourage high-level foreign experts, as well as innovative foreign talents and overseas Chinese to start businesses in the city.

The Qianhai and Shekou area of the Guangdong Pilot FTZ includes the Qianhai area and part of the Shekou area that borders the Qianhai area.

The rules, which have been approved by the Ministry of Public Security, were made to support the construction and innovation-based development of the Guangdong Pilot FTZ, and are expected to help the city establish a market-oriented system of professionals, which evaluates in line with international practice.

Rule 1:

High-level foreign experts working in the Guangdong Pilot FTZ’s Qianhai and Shekou area in Shenzhen are eligible to apply for permanent residence permits in China for their spouses and underage children with a recommendation from the FTZ’s administration office.

The Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department promises to complete a review of qualification for applicants within 50 days and submit the applications to the Ministry of Public Security for approval, which will be completed within 40 days.

The provincial authorities are authorized to set evaluation standards, which will be enacted after approved by the Ministry of Public Security.

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) This is a new channel for expats to apply for permanent residence permits in China.

According to existing rules, foreigners who make major, outstanding contributions to China’s social and economic development, with their spouses and underage children, can apply for permanent residence permits in China with recommendations from related government agencies.

2) The new rule shortens the time limit for approval from 180 days to 90 days.

Rule 2:

Foreign members of innovation teams, who are settled in the FTZ, and foreign technicians who are hired by enterprises in the FTZ, can accumulate points toward qualifying for a permanent residence permit in China.

Convenience and breakthrough:

A new points-based channel for permanent residence permits for high-level foreign experts. It is expected to attract higher caliber foreigners to work and start businesses in the FTZ.

Rule 3:

Foreigners who invest in the Guangdong FTZ directly, or through companies of which they are controlling shareholders, accumulate US$1 million or above in three years, and have good taxation records, are eligible to apply for permanent residence permits in China.

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) The previous rule required foreign investors to invest directly as natural persons. The new rule allows foreign investors to invest through companies of which they are controlling shareholders.

2) The rule lowers the direct foreign investment threshold in the FTZ from Guangdong’s previous US$2 million.

Rule 4:

Those with doctorate degrees, or who have worked in the Guangdong FTZ for four consecutive years, and have lived in China for at least six months each year, can directly apply for permanent residence permits.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The rule further lifts requirements for overseas Chinese who apply for permanent residence permits in China.

1) The rule cancels restrictions on the type of company or position title. The previous rule required applicants to have worked as deputy managers or higher level executives at four types of enterprises, or to have had the professional titles of vice professors or vice researchers at top universities or seven types of research institutes.

2) The rule expands time limit for staying in China.

The previous rule required applicants to have worked for at least four years, and to have stayed in China for at least an accumulative three years. The new rule requires that applicants have worked for at least four years, and have lived in China for at least six months of every year.

Rule 5:

An overseas Chinese person who starts a business in the Guangdong FTZ (not subject to the age limit of 60) can either apply for a five-year residence permit with a work certificate and a letter of guarantee from the employer, or apply for a five-year residence permit for personal affairs with a business plan. The residence permit will be endorsed “business startup.”

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) New rule cancels age limit for applying for residence permit.

2) It simplifies application procedures, and lifts validation period of residence permit. The applicants are not required to produce an employment permit for foreigners or a foreign expert certificate.

3) Applicants can apply for residence permit with business plan.

Rule 6:

Foreign students who are invited by Guangdong FTZ enterprises can apply for short-term personal affairs visas at checkpoints (endorsed “intern”). Inbound students with other types of visas can also apply for short-term personal affairs visas (endorsed with intern) at the exit-entry administration department.

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) The previous rule didn’t allow foreign students at overseas higher learning institutions to work as interns in China. The new rule supports exchanges between Guangdong FTZ and foreign students at overseas higher learning institutions.

2) The rule provides visa convenience to foreign students studying at overseas higher learning institutions.

Rule 7:

A foreign national who has worked in Guangdong for four consecutive years and has stayed in China for at least six months per year can apply for a permanent residence permit with a recommendation from an employer. The person should have stable accommodation in China, with an annual income and individual income tax paid above certain amounts set by the provincial public security department each year.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The rule lifts previous restrictions on the type of company or position an applicant must have. It includes income and taxation as part of the admission standards, allowing the market to play a bigger role in soliciting foreign talents.

Rule 8:

High-level foreign talents, accredited by the Guangdong talented personnel authority, who are hired by companies approved by the Guangdong science and technology innovation authority or the Guangdong FTZ office, or are employed by universities or scientific research institutions in Guangdong, can apply for five-year work permits (endorsed “talents”) without an age limit. Those who are recommended by employers can apply for permanent residence permits after working for three years or more.

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) The rule cancels the previous age limit of 60 years old for applicants.

2) It simplifies application procedures and expands the valid period of work permits to five years. Applicants are no longer required to provide an employment permit for foreigners or a foreign expert certificate.

3) The rule cancels previous restrictions on the type of company or title expats must have.

Rule 9:

High-level foreign talents accredited by the Guangdong talented personnel authority, hired by companies approved by the Guangdong science and technology innovation authority or the Guangdong FTZ office, or employed by universities or scientific research institutions in Guangdong can apply for R (talents) visas at border checkpoints on arrival if they don’t have visas, and they can apply for five-year residence permits after arrival. Those who hold other types of visas can also apply for R (talents) visas and five-year residence permits after arriving in China.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The previous rule only accepted R (talents) visa and five-year residence permit applications from high-level foreign talents accredited by the Guangdong talented personnel authority, but the new rule allows more agencies and institutions to recommend expats.

Rule 10:

Foreign nationals who hold work permits issued by the Guangdong Provincial Human Resources and Social Security Department or the foreign talented personnel authority can apply for one-year work residence permits after arrival. Those without visas can apply for Z (work) visas at border checkpoints on arrival and apply for work residence permits after arrival.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The new rule enables expats to apply for work residence permits by producing work permits. Applicants are no longer required to provide a Z (work) visa and an employment permit for foreigners or a foreign expert certificate as previously required. It also offers convenience to expats by allowing them to apply for Z (work) visas at border checkpoints.

Rule 11:

Foreign nationals who work in Guangdong and have twice acquired work residence permits can apply for five-year work residence permits if they have no history of illegal behavior or criminal records.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The new rule enables expats who work in Guangdong to apply for long-term residence permits based on their residence time and behavior. But the previous rule only allowed high-level professional talents and investors from overseas to apply for five-year work residence permits.

Rule 12:

A Chinese person with foreign citizenship can apply for a multi-entry visa, valid for five years, if they are born in Guangdong or had once registered as a permanent resident in Guangdong, as long as they have relevant documents confirming family visits, business trips, cultural exchanges or personal affairs in China.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The rule expands the time limit of multi-entry permits from one year to five years for a Chinese person with foreign citizenship if they were born in Guangdong or had registered as a permanent resident in Guangdong. The time limit for their residence permits are extended from three years to five years.

Rule 13:

An international student who graduates from a university in China (including Hong Kong and Macao) can apply for a two-year personal affairs residence permit (endorsed: “start a business”) by providing their diploma. They can take an internship or start a business in Guangdong, and they can apply for a work residence permit if they are hired by a company in the Guangdong FTZ.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The rule provides convenience for international students who want to start a business in Guangdong. The previous rule required an international student to leave China after graduation before they could apply for a work visa in China.

Rule 14:

Foreign students who are admitted into primary and secondary schools in Guangdong can apply for X1 visas by providing their admission letters and certified documents to visa-issuing agencies at border checkpoints in Guangdong if they are in urgent need of attending school. Those who hold other types of visas can apply for study residence permits after arrival by providing admission letters and certified documents.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The new rule simplifies application procedures for study residence permits for foreign students. Applicants who hold other types of visas are no longer required to submit documents issued by the educational authority. It also offers convenience to students by allowing them to apply for X1 (long-term study) visas at border checkpoints.

Rule 15:

High-level professional talents from overseas or Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, who have acquired permanent residency or work residence permits in China, can apply for personal affairs residence permits (endorsed “housekeeping services”) for foreign domestic workers that they have hired by providing personal guarantee documents and employment contracts.

Convenience and breakthrough:

The rule breaks new ground on previous policies, allowing high-level professional talents from overseas or Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao to apply for residence permits for foreign domestic workers whom they have employed.

Rule 16:

The Guangdong government will apply to the State Council to optimize the 72-hour visa-free transit policy in Guangdong. Currently, the 72-hour visa-free transit policy only allows holders of passports issued by 51 countries to enter and leave China at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. But the new policy will also allow foreign travelers to enter China at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport and Jieyang Chaoshan International Airport and leave China at all border ports in Guangdong. Under the new policy, travelers will be able to stay in Guangdong for 144 hours, instead of the existing 72 hours.

Convenience and breakthrough:

1) The new policy will enable eligible foreign travelers to enter China at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport and Jieyang Chaoshan International Airport and leave China at all border ports in Guangdong.

2) It will allow travelers to stay in Guangdong for 144 hours, instead of the existing 72 hours.

(Han Ximin, Zhang Yang)