CHINAJuly 7, 2015

Various new immigration policies have been implemented in Shanghai by the Ministry of Public Security, effective July 1, 2015. The new immigration policies aim to support Shanghai in its endeavors to become a globally influential technology innovation center. It is expected that, after successful implementation in Shanghai, these new regulations will also be gradually extended to other regions and will eventually apply in the rest of the country.

What’s Changed?

The following overview of new regulations is based on the latest updates by the authorities regarding the details of implementation.

Easier path to long term or permanent residency
The new regulations have added several new options to obtain longer term or permanent residency status:

5 year residence permits

• The following groups of foreigners will be able to apply for five year residence permits if they are employed for a five year term in office – the normally applicable age restriction of 60 does not apply:

· Foreign nationals who are recognized as higher-level talent by the municipal human resources administration of Shanghai;
· Advanced professionals who are employed and guaranteed by organizations on the Shanghai List of Occupations in Science and Technology Innovation, which has been developed by the Administration of Science and Technology Innovation of Shanghai.

• Foreign nationals who have held both an initial and renewed work residence permit for at least one year validity each and are renewing their permit again can apply for a 5 year work residence permit, provided they have not committed any crimes or rule violations.

Permanent residency

• Foreign nationals who hold a “talent” residence permit are now eligible for permanent residency as soon as they have worked three consecutive years in Shanghai.
• Foreign nationals who have worked in Shanghai for four consecutive years and meet either of the following requirements now qualify for permanent residency status:

· Their employer is eligible for supporting permanent residency applications and will recommend them;

or

· They have earned a gross annual salary of at least 600,000 yuan and paid tax of more than 120,000 yuan in each of those years – no restrictions on type of employer or job level apply.

• Seven categories have been added to eligible employers for supporting permanent residency applications: state laboratories, state key laboratories, state engineering laboratories, state engineering research centers, state recognized corporate technology centers, state engineering technology research centers, and foreign-invested R&D centers.

Note: under the new regulations it has also become possible for foreigners who have obtained permanent residency or hold a “talent” residence permit in China to apply for special “Housekeeping” residence permits for their personal servants. They will need to provide an employment contract and personal guarantee for the servant.

Stimulation of innovative and entrepreneurial industries
The new regulations also include several provisions which will specifically benefit innovative businesses in Shanghai:

• Recent foreign graduates can apply for a special “Startup” residence permit of private affair with validity up to 2 years before doing an internship or starting a business; in order to qualify they will need to be able to present their diploma and a business plan for starting an innovative business or certificates of business establishment approved by the government. Note that working at another company while running a startup business is still subject to the applicable rules for such position, which may include obtaining other work and work residence permits.
• For other foreigners planning to start an innovative business in Shanghai it is now possible:

· if holding work permission proof issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs:
to apply for a work residence permit for up to one year upon arrival. Alternatively they can apply for a work visa upon arrival and subsequently for a residence permit of the same length after entry;
· if no work permission proof has been obtained beforehand:
to apply for a private matter visa upon arrival, and subsequently obtain a private matter residence permit; they will need to be able to present certificates of investment or business plans.

In earlier communication about the upcoming changes the authorities also emphasized that the Shanghai Technology and Innovation Center will continue to be supported by the Ministry of Public Security and the Shanghai Municipal Government, who will establish mechanisms for cooperation.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

As of July 1, 2015 companies in Shanghai have additional options to obtain longer term and permanent residence status for (some of their) foreign employees. Pro-Link GLOBAL therefore advises companies to review their employee records to identify any employees who may qualify for either 5 year residence permits or permanent residency status upon expiration of their current permits, based on these new regulations. Pro-Link GLOBAL will in turn be able to assist with the actual assessment if such potential candidates are indeed eligible and can then advise on the appropriate course of action.

It should be noted that these policies have just gone into effect and are subject to change, especially during the initial implementation phase, including potential changes to document and eligibility requirements.

Companies in other cities can look forward to similar measures to be implemented in the future, although no time frame for such wider implementation is known yet at this time. Pro-Link GLOBAL will keep you updated on any relevant news on this subject.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team and our office in China. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | ISP CHINA Office “VisaCare” to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.

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