US: New visa update system for Chinese nationals

Effective November 29, Chinese nationals with a B-1/B-2, B-1 or B-2 visitor visa valid for 10 years will be required to enrol in the new Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before travelling to the United States for business or tourism.

EVUS is a joint program established by new regulations from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the State Department  to maintain current information on U.S. visa holders.  Though Chinese nationals are the first group to be subject to the new requirement, the regulations give CBP broad authority to require additional classes of nonimmigrants to enrol their visas before travel to the United States.

China: Unified Work Authorization Application Policy

The State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs of China has released policy guidelines for the Unified Work Authorization Application.

The Unified Work authorization Application has been designed to attract highly-skilled foreign nationals, streamline the application process, increase transparency and improve data sharing schemes. Further implementation details for the three different categories of foreign applicants are expected to be released in the near future.

China: Unified work authorisation application policy forthcoming

A unified work authorization application policy will be piloted in Anhui, Beijing, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong, Shanghai, Sichuan and Tianjin Provinces and the Ning Xia Hui autonomous region starting October 2016, and will be applied nationwide after April 2017. The new system should streamline and simplify the work permit application process.

Currently, there are two separate application systems: the Foreign Expert Certificate application, handled by the Foreign Expert Bureau, and the Alien Work Permit application, handled by the Labor Bureau.

China: Relaxed immigration rules and procedures implemented

New immigration policies are being piloted in Guangdong Province that should make it easier for four main categories of foreign nationals to obtain Permanent Residence status and should simplify various application procedures, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Public Security. There are also plans to extend the visa-free policy from 72 hours to 144 hours.

Israel/China: Reciprocal ten-year multiple-entry visa agreement signed

The Israeli parliament has ratified a multiple-entry visa agreement with China under which Chinese business visitors and tourists can enter Israel multiple times with the same ten-year visa and vice versa. Until recently, both Israeli and Chinese tourists and business visitors had to obtain a single-entry visa for each trip. Visitors cannot conduct work under the visa, and may face penalties if they do.

United States: July 2016 visa bulletin: Modest advancement in EB-2 and EB-3 India while China largely holds steady to June dates

According to the State Department’s July Visa Bulletin, there will be modest advancement in the cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa for EB-2 and EB-3 India next month, while these cutoff dates for China will remain largely unchanged, as projected last month.

Rental variations in China

Many issues, legalities and paperwork differ in China from province to province. Housing rental prices are no exception, and vary greatly from 1st to 3rd tier cities, and the methods of rental and deposit payments also vary from city to city. Landlords and developers in some regions have different requirements when it comes to rental and deposit payments.

When assignees are relocating to China, they should be aware that the policies are not standardized, and below is an example of various cities with differing payment regulations.

China: Relaxed immigration rules and procedures forthcoming for foreign nationals in Beijing

New immigration policies that will be piloted starting March 1, 2016 should make it easier for four main categories of foreign nationals to obtain Permanent Residence status and should simplify various application procedures, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Public Security. There are also plans to extend the visa-free policy from 72 hours to 144 hours.

UK: New visit visa for Chinese nationals

A new two-year visit visa for Chinese nationals was launched on Monday 11th January.

The new visa will enable Chinese visitors to make multiple trips to the UK for a longer period, and will provide them with a better deal than the standard Schengen visitor visa, which is limited to 90 days maximum.

British visitors to China will benefit from the same visa arrangement, with the Chinese government reducing its two-year visitor visa fee to the equivalent of £85 and, for the first time, matching the UK’s offer of a 10-year visitor visa.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “The number of Chinese visitors to the UK is rising year on year and this visa will allow Chinese visitors to further take advantage of the opportunities the UK has to offer for both tourism and business purposes.”

The new visa will cost £85, the same as the existing six month visitor visa.

China: Work permit sponsors subject to new online pre-approval requirement in Beijing

Sponsoring companies in Beijing applying for work permits must apply for pre-approval online prior to submitting applications to the Beijing Labour Bureau on or after January 4, 2016, according to the Labour Bureau’s announcement of a new work permit application system. 

Chinese nationals eligible for work and holiday visa program

Five thousand eligible Chinese passport holders per year between the ages of 18 and 31 will be able to reside and work in Australia for up to twelve months on or after September 21, 2015 under the Work and Holiday visa arrangement, which was finalized in June.  To be eligible for the program, the traveler must hold tertiary qualifications or have successfully completed at least two years of undergraduate university study.

Key Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Work and Holiday visa, the applicant must:

•    have sufficient funds to support their stay (usually around AUD 5,000) and to purchase a return or onward travel ticket at the end of the stay;

•    have not previously entered Australia on a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa;

•    not intend to bring a dependent child in Australia;

•    have functional English skills as determined by a language test or by completing specified English language classes;

•    meet character and health requirements; and

•    be a genuine visitor, as determined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Although the agreement does not currently allow Australian nationals to travel to China on a working holiday, this is under consideration.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Eligible Chinese nationals should benefit from the introduction of the Work and Holiday visa as it will allow for an opportunity to live and work in Australia when company sponsorship may not be an option.

China housing market shows signs of recovery

As Chinese policymakers struggle to arrest a slowdown in growth, July home price data looks likely to confirm the housing market as a rare counterpoint to a growing list of grim economic indicators.

Property sales bottomed out in January-June after declining for more than a year, propped up by a barrage of government support measures since last September, including a series of interest rate cuts and lower down-payment requirements.

There are indications that the pace of recovery may be quickening in the housing market, which accounts for about 15 percent of the economy.

On Sunday, the country's biggest property developer, China Vanke Co Ltd , said its half-year core profit climbed 5.5 percent, and trumpeted the "emergence and growth of massive new property demand".

"It'll take time, but it's confirmed that a recovery is ongoing," Vanke's president Yu Liang told reporters on Monday.

Data from researchers at China Real Estate Index System show Vanke is backing that prognosis with cash, spending 30 percent more on land purchases in January-July than in the same year-ago period.

There have been precious few triggers for investment in recent economic data releases.

Exports have tumbled, investment growth has hit repeated lows and the stock market crashed 30 percent in a matter of weeks, keeping policymakers busy with an unprecedented slew of support measures, including a currency devaluation and repeated attempts to increase lending.

Even if China hits its official target this year, economic growth would hit a 25-year low of 7 percent.

Big Cities Lead the Way

In the housing market, which hit the skids after previous heavy-handed efforts to cool a speculative bubble, the support measures appear to be bearing fruit.

"It's the policy that makes it possible to buy my second apartment. Without lower down-payments, I couldn't make the decision this time," said 33-year-old tourism worker Lilian Liu, who bought a second home in the eastern city of Hangzhou last month, helped by money she made in the stock market before the crash.

Though overall real estate investment growth continued to slow in January-July, property sales and housing investment improved, which Li Jiao, senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics, said would fuel growth in total property investment in the coming months.

Prices in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have been leading the recovery.

"I've been watching the housing market for several months," said a Beijing lawyer who gave his surname as Wang. "Upward is surely the direction of home prices in Beijing. A recent recovery in transactions helped me sell my first flat quickly and got the money to buy another one," he said.

Source: Reuters 18th August (Reporting by Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao; Writing by Will Waterman; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)