Shanghai Municipality has recently launched visa polices intended to facilitate the immigration process of “highly-skilled foreigners” coming to work in Shanghai, to attract and retain foreign talent, and to establish a global science and innovation center in Shanghai (the “New Policies”).

“Highly-skilled foreigners” refers to:

  1. foreign winners of prestigious awards and participants in high-profile talent projects;
  2. renowned experts and scholars with outstanding achievements or professional expertise;
  3. outstanding and professional business talents; and
  4. individuals with special advantages or that are needed in Shanghai.

Main New Policies:

Simplified visa application procedures 

Highly-skilled foreigners can apply for an R-type or talent-related visa at the Chinese immigration office on arrival in Shanghai. This visa is valid for five years and allows multiple entries.

The R-type visa allows holders to stay in China for up to six months for each entry and to apply directly for a work permit and the corresponding residence permit in Shanghai.

Foreigners living overseas can now apply for a Z-type or work-related visa at the Chinese immigration office on arrival in China, provided they have already secured an employment license issued by the Chinese labor authority. Work and residence permits must still be processed within 30 days of arrival.

In contrast, foreigners who already reside in China and have secured an employment license issued by the Chinese labor authority can apply directly for the residence permit for work purposes at the Chinese immigration office without having to secure a Z-type visa in their home county and re-enter China, provided they secure the work permit within 10 days after the residence permit has been issued.

Long-term residence permit

Foreigners who have obtained two work-related residence permits and have not breached any Chinese laws can apply for a long-term work-related residence permit valid for up to five years when they submit their third application, provided their employers guarantee:

  1. they  will  maintain  a  long-term  employment  relationship  with  the foreign employee;
  2. the long-term residence permit will be deregistered in case of early termination of the employment relationship; and
  3. the foreigners will not breach any Chinese laws or regulations during their stay in China.

Permanent residence permit

Highly-skilled foreigners can apply for a permanent resident permit after residing in China for three years without having to apply for a work permit, provided they are recommended by their employer, and they do not have a criminal record in their country of origin.

Foreigners who are not highly skilled can apply for a permanent resident permit if:

  1. they have worked continuously in Shanghai for at least four calendar years;
  2. they have spent at least six months in China in each of the four years;
  3. their annual revenue exceeds RMB 600,000, and they have paid taxes exceeding RMB 120,000 each year;1
  4. their employer recommends them; and
  5. they do not have a criminal record in their country of origin.

Highly-skilled foreigners’ applications will be prioritized and processed more quickly.

Residence permit for start-ups

Foreign students that graduate from Chinese universities and want to start a business in Shanghai can apply for an S-type resident permit valid for up to two years. During this period, they are allowed to actively look for a job and can change their residence permit to a work-related one.

Residence permit for high-skilled foreigners’ housekeepers

Highly-skilled foreigners are each allowed to employ one foreign housekeeper (up to one per household) and to apply for an S-type residence permit for their foreign housekeeper, provided that the employing highly-skilled foreigner has already secured a permanent residence permit or work-related residence permit and the housekeeper has an employment contract with written guarantees.

Date of issue: June 30, 2015. Effective date: July 1, 2015.