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China eases immigration rules to lure highly skilled overseas talent

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Effective from August, mainland China’s Ministry of Public Security will relax its immigration policy – in a bid to welcome highly skilled overseas professionals. It is also intended to allow more foreigners the chance to become permanent residents.

The policy change will enable sought-after talent from abroad to apply for long-term visas. It will also make it easier for overseas entrepreneurs to launch a business in China.

Prior to this relaxing of visa rules, only workers from abroad who made “major and extraordinary contributions” while in China or who filled a skills shortage in a particular sector could successfully apply for permanent residence.

Individuals with in-demand skills and also those whose annual income or taxation reached a specific threshold can apply for permanent residence – as can their spouses and minor-aged children.

Those from abroad that have held a job consecutively for four and have been resident in China for a minimum of six months each year with an average income six times higher than the average in their city of residence, are eligible to apply for permanent residence under the new policy.

For example in Beijing, where the average annual salary in 2018 was just over 94,000 yuan (US$13,700), the threshold for overseas workers is an annual salary of 565,548 yuan (US$82,200).

The easing of visa restrictions will also enable people of Chinese ethnicity from abroad to apply for permanent residence. Individuals holding a doctoral degree, or who have worked in what the ministry has as described as “key development areas” for four years with a minimum stay of six months each year can also apply for permanent residence.

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