Background

Two regulations were recently released in China that could ease visa and residency permit procedures for certain foreigners and grant entitlements for foreigners with permanent residency in China. The Circular Concerning Issues of Facilitating Visa and Residency Permit Formalities for Foreign Talents’ Entry into China ("Circular"), was jointly promulgated by five departments including the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security ("MHRSS") on September 9, 2012 and officially posted on the website of the MHRSS on December 13, 2012. The Measures for Entitlements of Foreigners with Permanent Residency in China ("Measures") was promulgated by 25 authorities on September 25, 2012 and also officially posted on the website of the MHRSS on December 13, 2012. Below is a summary of the Circular and the Measures.

The Circular

The Circular aims to facilitate more convenient visa and residency permit formalities for high-level foreign talent and members of their family. To strengthen the efforts to bring foreign talent to China, the Circular:

  • Provides a five-year visa for foreign talent who needs to repeatedly and temporarily enter and exit the country, with each stop not exceeding 180 days;
  • Provides a work visa or a residence permit effective for two to five years for foreign talent who needs to work in China or needs a long term stay;
  • States that foreign talent qualifying for permanent residency may apply for permanent residency permits; and
  • Grants expert certificates or foreign expert certificates to qualified foreign talent.

The above provisions apply to foreign talent and their foreign spouses and children under 18 years of age, as well as the foreign spouses and children under 18 years of age of returned Chinese talent. The foreign talent also has to be included in one of four groups of talent introduction plans:

  • The Overseas Talent Introduction Plan of the central government (the Thousand Talents Plan);
  • The various overseas talent introduction plans of the central government, departments and institutions directly under state organs, state-owned enterprises which are approved and registered by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, the MHRSS, or the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs;
  • The various overseas talent introduction plans of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, and sub-provincial cities which are approved and registered by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, MHRSS, or the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs; and
  • The various overseas talent introduction plans within provinces which are reviewed by the organization department of the Party Committee, human resources and social securities departments or administrations of foreign experts affairs of the relevant provinces (including autonomous regions and municipalities) and sub-provincial cities and approved by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, MHRSS or State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

Talent introduction plans are designed to attract experts from overseas to work in China’s key industries. The most prominent example is the Thousand Talents Plan, initiated by the central government in 2008. The Thousand Talents Plan aims to attract scholars, managerial professionals, and entrepreneurs through monetary subsidies, including a RMB 1,000,000 grant (USD 160,467), and preferential policies such as those included in the Circular.

The Circular became effective on September 28, 2012.

The Measures

The Measures provide a list of entitlements for foreign personnel with Foreigner Permanent Residence Permits in China. Such foreigners may enjoy the same rights and bear the same obligations as Chinese citizens, except for political rights and rights and obligations as otherwise specified by laws and regulations. The Measures also state that foreigners with permanent residency and a valid passport may travel in and out of Chinese territory without needing visas or other formalities, and their term of residency in China is not limited. Such foreigners working in China are also not required to obtain Foreigner Employment Permits.

The Measures also entitle foreigners with permanent residency to certain types of investment. Such foreigners can establish foreign-funded enterprises through technology contribution, technology investment, or other methods. The Measures also allow such foreigners to conduct foreign direct investment using legally acquired Renminbi in China.

Foreigners with permanent residency are also subject to certain obligations under the Measures. For example, the Measures state that such foreigners are obligated to pay taxes according to China’s tax laws and regulations as well as its tax treaties. Such taxes should be determined in accordance with the advice of a professional tax advisor.

The Measures became effective on September 25, 2012.