China rejigs visa system in favour of highly skilled expats

Published:  13 Sep at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, USA, China
Chjna is planning to upgrade its visa system in order to give priority to attracting more top-level expat professionals and limit the numbers of low-grade workers.

At the present time expats wishing to work in China have two visa options – the foreign expert work permit available from the State Administration for Foreign Affairs or an employment license issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. The new rules will see the two visas merged into a single, unified work permit in order to reduce unnecessary paperwork, simplify the process overall and attract more highly-skilled expat professionals.

However, as a part of the adjustment, the Chinese administration is planning to classify all expat workers using three separate categories. Category A will include the so-called ‘top talent’ workers, whilst the B grade is for ‘professional talent’ and the C grade will apply to unskilled workers and those in the service industry.

An entry channel similar to the USA Green Card will apply to all A-graders, but visas for the two lower grades will be restricted. Although no official notice as to individual grading requirements has been issued, online media are suggesting a points system governed by salary in China, educational background, Chinese language proficiency, age, place of work and length of stay in the country. Extra points are expected to be given to those working in underdeveloped regions of the vast country.

A-graders are expected to score 85 points or more, giving them easy access to a visa, with B-graders on 60 points or higher. C-level workers, it seems, might be better off applying to other Asian countries rather than waiting for a slot. The scheme is due for a trial run from October this year in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and several other cities, with nationwide coverage expected from next April.

The upgrade seems to be in parallel to the country’s recent crack-down on illegal workers and Shanghai’s relaxation of the age limit on expat professionals for those working as corporate executives. Attracting the best and the brightest is the aim of all expat-friendly countries, but China’s political infrastructure and especially its language could well act as deterrents unless salaries and perks are exceptionally high.
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