Foreign workers in Beijing who plan to utilize the city's new merit-based point system to get permanent residency are being advised to apply between July 23 and 31 this year, according to the authority of Zhongguancun, a high-tech hub in Beijing.
There are usually only two windows of opportunity each year to apply under the merit system, said Liu Qiang, director of a service center for foreigners set up by the Beijing Public Security Bureau's exit and entry administration in Zhongguancun.
Adopted in 2016, the merit system offers a channel through which foreign professionals can apply for China's "green card".
The merit system mainly benefits two types of expats - foreign members at startups registered with Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park and top foreign technology professionals who have been hired by companies in Zhongguancun, Liu said.
An expert panel organized by Zhongguancun's management committee will review materials provided by the applicants' companies. The panel will give points based on factors such as an applicant's education, age, experience and the demand for certain technological knowhow.
If applicants get more than 70 of 100 possible points, a recommendation letter can be issued for a green card. The letter, in turn, can be used to get a green card at the service center. The procedure can be completed within 180 days.
China began issuing permanent residency permits in 2004. The merit system was adopted to attract more foreign talent and facilitate the development of Zhongguancun.
"It simplified the process and provided more choices for top foreign professionals to have a stable living situation in China," Liu said.
Apart from the merit system, expats can also apply for permanent residency if they have worked in Beijing for four consecutive years and remained in the capital for at least six months each year. They must also earn at least 500,000 yuan ($75,500) annually and pay at least 100,000 yuan in tax each year.
William Rosoff, a US citizen and a partner at the Beijing law office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, was one of the beneficiaries and went to the service center in Zhongguancun last week to get his green card.
"I feel it's very convenient for transacting the whole business and getting my permanent residency card easily," he said.
Having lived and worked in Beijing for more than six years, the 72-year-old previously had to renew his work visa each year.
"Without permanent residency, it actually takes a lot of time and effort to apply for a work visa," Rosoff said. "I appreciate the faster service at the center and I can expect a more stable living situation in Beijing now."
The service center in Zhongguancun said it has handled the applications of 855 expats between March 2016 and June 2018.