In May 2015, the People’s Government of Shanghai published the ‘Opinions on Promoting a Technology and Innovation Centre with a Global Influence’. Additionally, as a measure to attract talent from overseas, the Ministry of Public Security published the ‘Entry and Exit Implementing Measures to Support a Technology and Innovation Centre in Shanghai’ (“Entry and Exit Measures“) which were implemented on 1 July 2015. In support of this, on 5 August 2015, the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (”Shanghai HRSS“), together with the Shanghai Foreign Expert Bureau (“Shanghai FEB“) and the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, also published ‘Measures on Implementing More Open Policies to Attract Overseas Talent’ (”Talent Measures“).

In this article, we elaborate on several of the new innovative rules that have been introduced by the above Measures that are currently operating in Shanghai only.

Simplified entry and employment procedures

If a foreign worker applies to work in China, a work visa and several governmental permits must be obtained (see the Normal Procedures column in the table below). Under the new Entry and Exit Measures and as an alternative to the normal procedures, simplified procedures have been introduced which are available to all applicants pursuing work in Shanghai.

Click here to view the table.

R-visas (‘foreign talent’ visas) and its implications

Under the Measures, R-visas can be granted to:R-visas (‘foreign talent’ visas) and its implications

  • applicants employed by high-tech enterprises in Shanghai who are recognised by the Shanghai Science Commission as foreign talent.

With regard to (a) the Talent Measures define the categories or types of work that are recognised as potentially having or needing ‘foreign talent’. They include, among others, middle to senior level management, technical workers, and key employees undertaking scientific research work in regional headquarters of a multinational enterprise, R&D centres, holding companies, foreign-invested enterprises of the encouraged category (as defined in the Foreign Investment Industries Guidance Catalogue), or any enterprises with a registered capital above USD 3 million.

Advantages associated with R-visas include the following:

  • R-visas can be obtained directly upon arrival at Shanghai airports however, a prior appointment is highly recommended. This is because the applicant will need to present the already-issued visa notice (obtained upon appointment) to the airline, to avoid being prevented from boarding the plane.
  • The employment license and work permit can be applied for simultaneously if the applicant holds an R-visa. More importantly, applicants are not restricted by the current 60 year age limitation.
  • Applicants can apply for a 5 year residence permit.
  • A worker holding a foreign talent marked residence permit may employ one foreign nanny (for each family) upon meeting certain requirements (such as having a security fund above RMB 100k).
  • Having worked for 3 years in Shanghai after obtaining the above residence permit, and upon being recommended by the employer, the foreigner can apply for a green card in China.

Recognising foreign talent based on market standards

According to the Entry and Exit Measures, the authority will review an applicant’s annual income and tax payment in the preceding year to consider whether they can qualify as foreign talent. For the year 2015, the thresholds are a minimum RMB 600k annual 2014 income (approx. EUR 86k based on Oct. 29, 2015 exchange rates) and a minimum RMB 120k paid individual income tax in 2014 (approx. EUR 17k).

If such foreign talent has been working in Shanghai consecutively for 4 years or longer, and in each year stayed in China for 6 months or longer accumulatively, the individual can, upon being recommended by the employer, apply for a green card in China.

A green card in China means that the foreigner does not need to obtain any visa for entering China, or any work permit etc. for working in China. His/her family can also employ a foreign nanny upon meeting certain requirements. But there can be significant drawbacks on the tax side, which should be carefully considered before applying for a green card.

Longer-term residence permit

According to the Entry and Exit Measures, after being granted two continuous residence permits in Shanghai, it is possible to get a residence permit of up to 5 years duration when applying for the third time.

To decide whether or not to grant a longer-term residence permit, the Entry and Exit Bureau will review various factors, such as duration of the work permit, the terms of the labour contract and the worker’s past activities in China. If a shorter-term work permit has been granted it is likely that the Bureau will not grant a longer-term residence permit.