New policies are making it easier for Chinese descendants to apply for permanent residence permits

2016-08-29 09:41:12Global Times Li Yan ECNS App Download

On the morning of March 1, Huang Ying arrived at the new service center for foreigners applying for permanent residence permits in Beijing's Zhongguancun, known as China's Silicon Valley. One hour later, the Chinese American man finished submitting his paperwork for the permit or Chinese green card.

He was informed the permit would be issued in 50 days. "I didn't think it would be so efficient," Huang told the US China Press, adding when his relatives filed for the permit previously, the wait time was much longer.

Huang, the vice president of Chinese IT giant Lenovo, was among the first group of foreigners working at Zhongguancun who was granted the permanent residence permit, following the implementation of favorable visa policies providing foreign talents easier entry and exit, which took effect on March 1.

As China's economy continues to develop, the demand for foreign talent that can bring in core technologies and innovation is huge. Among the targeted talents are a large number of waiji huaren - foreign nationals with Chinese ethnicity either born overseas or new immigrants - who are increasingly drawn back to China by the country's opportunities.

The policies

Permanent residency in China, with benefits bestowing long validity, easy entry and exit, more convenient accesses to employment, children's education, buying a home and investment, is notoriously difficult to acquire.

In 2013, the number of foreign nationals living in China reached 848,500. However, from 2004 when the permanent residency policy was introduced, to 2013, only 7,356 foreigners have obtained the permit, according to Blue Book of Global Talent Annual Report of Chinese International Migration (2015) by think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG).

The candidates for permanent residency permit in China are narrowed to investors with more than $500,000 invested in China, technical personnel at executive positions in certain organizations, such as companies under State Council departments or provincial-level government, professors at top universities, companies carrying out national projects or other key technology enterprises, high-tech and foreign-invested companies in State-encouraged industries.

Waiji huaren, under the category of family reunion, are provided convenience in visa issues, according to the website of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of The State Council. It covers unmarried people under 18 who come to China to live with their parents, elderly above 69 who have direct relatives that are Chinese nationals and spouses of Chinese nationals.

Luckily, Huang's application fell into the group of waiji huaren who can benefit from the new visa rule in Zhongguancun. Chinese descents who have a doctorate or have worked in a Chinese enterprise for more than four years and who are able to maintain a no less than a six-month stay in China each year, can apply for the Chinese green card directly.

From March to May 20, a total of 83 foreigners have submitted an application for the permanent residence permit at the service center in Zhongguancun, according Zhongguancun Science Park's website.

Overseas Chinese a main focus

Overseas Chinese descents and Chinese studying abroad are the focus of China's strategy to bring in foreign talents, said Wang Huiyao, president of CCG, according to a Global Times report in 2015.

"The main goal is not just to bring Chinese workers overseas back to China. However, it's only natural that the international immigration trend shows that a person is more likely to come back to their ethnic homeland because they have more connections," said Liu Guofu, immigration law professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

At the same time, targeted foreign talents, for example, the elites in developed countries, may not be interested in China due to lack of connections within the country, said Liu.

The demand for Chinese permanent residency of waiji huaren is certainly higher compared with foreigners without Chinese heritage or connections.

Globally, to attract the overseas diasporas back to their homeland is common practice of many developing countries. Talent flow from developed countries to developing countries only accounts for 3 percent of the total international talent, Liu said.

For example, India has adopted the PIO (person of Indian origin) card scheme, providing eased visa terms for foreigners with Indian heritage to enter and stay in India.


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