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.
Eased Residence and Permanent Residence Eligibility Criteria for Guangdong Province Workers
Foreign nationals working in Guangdong Province who have applied for a Work-Type Residence Permit twice successively and who have not been charged with violations of Chinese laws are now eligible for a Work-Type Residence Permit valid for five years. They may apply for Permanent Residence (PR) if have continuously worked in Guangdong for at least four years and meet the required annual salary and tax amount.
In addition, following a trend in Shanghai, highly-skilled foreign nationals under a Work-Type Residence Permit may now hire foreign housekeepers, which is typically not allowed for other foreign workers. These foreign housekeepers can apply for a Personal Affairs-Type Residence Permit under this arrangement.
On Arrival or In-Country Applications for R (Talent) Visa and Z (Work) Visa
Highly-skilled foreign nationals, as recognized by Guangdong authorities, can obtain an R (Talent) Visa upon arrival or in China, or convert their entry visa to an R (Talent) Visa upon arrival and apply for a Work-Type Residence Permit in country, or obtain a Z (work) visa if they already hold an Alien Employment Licence.
Eased Residence Permit Eligibility for Foreign Students
Upon graduation from Chinese educational institutions, foreign students can apply for a two-year Residence Permit under the Private Affairs category to work in Guangdong Province.
Foreign students from overseas educational institutions, invited by entities located in Guangdong Free Trade Zone registered with the Guangdong Exit and Entry Administration Bureau, are eligible for a short-term Personal Affairs Type Residence Permit indicating “internship” upon arrival in Guangdong, or can convert their entry visa to this type of permit.
Visa Exemption Expansion
The visa-free policy is expected to be extended from 72 hour-stays to 144 hour-stays for some nationalities in the ports of Guangdong Province, as was done in Shanghai last year.
Benefits in Guangdong Free Trade Zone
Highly-skilled foreign nationals who work in Guangdong Free Trade Zone are now exempt from age limits (the retirement age in China is 60 for males and 55 for females) and can obtain a five-year Residence Permit. They have the option to convert their Work-Type Residence status to PR status after three years, or to obtain a recommendation from the Administrative committee of the Free Trade Zone, which will allow them to apply for PR status immediately, together with their dependants. The processing time for PR applications has been reduced to 90 days.
Returning Chinese nationals who have acquired a different nationality working in Guangdong Free Trade Zone are also eligible to apply for PR status under the relaxed rules. They are exempt from age limitations and may be able to obtain a Work Type Residence Permit valid for five years if their current employer can provide a commitment letter.
In addition, they are also eligible for other types of Residence Permits such as a Personal Affairs-Type Residence Permit valid for five years for those starting a business in the Free Trade Zone, or a five-year Residence Permit valid for work or study, granted to those who were born in Guangdong (or the original province of Hukou, which was once part of Guangdong).
Lastly, foreign investors in the Free Trade Zone can also apply for PR status if they meet the minimum investment amount of USD 1 million.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Foreign investors and highly-skilled workers should benefit from the relaxed eligibility criteria for Permanent Residence and eased application processes forthcoming in Guangdong Province. Fragomen immigration professionals are available to discuss upcoming changes in application procedures.