Shanghai pilot programme simplifies expat work permits

Published:  4 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, China
Aimed at making it easier for highly skilled foreigners, Shanghai’s new single, unified work permit is a welcome replacement for the previous permit system which often took months to obtain.

The first of the new permits was issued to an expat last Thursday, confirming the Chinese government’s determination to attract the brightest and best. The rush to make China’s notorious bureaucracy more user-friendly for foreign professionals is linked to the country’s development as a tech and science innovation hub. Eventually, the scheme will be rolled out across the whole of China, creating a fast-track service unifying resident foreign experts working in major cities all across the country.

Shanghai is already a major hub for talented foreigners, with 93,000 listed as resident in 2016 as against 88,000 three years ago. Close on 40,000 Chinese businesses were issued with work permits and certificates of expertise for their expat employees, with an increase expected by the end of this year. The new single unified work permit will give each foreigner a unique ID number, valid for life and recognised by human resources, education, public security, tax, customs and foreign affairs agencies.

Expats recruited to work in Shanghai will only need to fill in an online application after they’ve arrived in China, making the former cumbersome requirements a thing of the past. Expats who’ve applied for two consecutive one-year work permits will be able to take advantage of a five-year work permit, making committing to a job in China far easier and faster. Formerly, the old-style permits took at least several months, and applicants needed to involve two separate government agencies.
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