Romanian medical expert Dante Neculai works in Zhejiang University. [File photo: zjol.com.cn]
Foreigners who want to work in China now only need to apply for one work permit, as of April 1.
The new system unifies the two work permits required before into just one, and took effect across China on Saturday after a six-month pilot scheme in a number of places.
Here are some of the highlights of the new system:
Highlight 1: Two work permits to just one
Foreigners were allowed to apply for two types of work permit: an employment license for foreign employees and a foreign expert work permit for top talent, which were issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) respectively.
There is now only one single work permit! The new foreigner work permit is the legal credential for foreigners to work in China, with each applicant receiving a lifetime number. A foreigner's work experience and information such as credit records will be attached to the number.
Highlight 2: Simplified procedures to facilitate the application by foreigners
About half of the application materials reportedly no longer need be submitted. A foreigner can apply for a visa at Chinese embassies or consulates overseas after obtaining a foreigner work license notice online. An invitation letter is no longer necessary.
Highlight 3: More favourable processes for high level talent
Under the new system, foreigners who want to work in China are classified into three categories: high level talent, professionals and others.
High level talent can complete all the application processes online, and are exempt from the need to supply hard copies of required documents. Work experience, diplomas and proof of no criminal record are taken on trust.
The examination and approval period for work permit applications, extensions and cancellations for high level talent will be shortened to 5 working days, compared to 10 working days in the past. The work permits can be valid for as long as five years. High level talent already in China can apply for work permits in China.
The new system was piloted from October 2016 to March 2017 in 10 provincial administrative regions including Beijing and Shanghai. As of March 28, 20,188 applications had been processed. A total of 4,375 foreigner work license notices and 9,638 foreigner work permits had been issued, and 21,866 employers wishing to employ foreigners had registered to use the new online application system.
A nationwide unified administration system will be established to serve foreigners coming to China.
Foreign students attend a job fair at Zhongguancun high-tech zone in Beijing on March 23, 2017. [Photo: China Daily]
Earlier this year, China also lowered the threshold for foreign graduates seeking jobs in China. Foreign students with a postgraduate degree or higher from Chinese or "well-known" foreign universities can be offered employment within a year after graduation, while in the past two years of work experience were mandatory in most cases. Successful applicants will be given a one-year work permit, which can be extended to no more than five years on renewal.
American basketball player, Stephon Marbury, shows his Chinese permanent residence card in Beijing on April 18, 2016. Marbury was the first foreign athlete to obtain a Chinese "green card". [File photo: Xinhua]
China has also eased residence and entry policies for foreigners in recent years to attract more foreign talent to work in China.
According to China's Ministry of Public Security, 1,576 foreigners became permanent Chinese residents last year, an increase of 163 percent on 2015.
The ministry confirmed last month that it would guarantee foreigners with permanent resident permits in China more rights, equal to those of Chinese citizens, such as when buying railway tickets, checking in at hotels, and purchasing property, according to a China Daily report.
China began to issue permanent resident permits to foreigners in 2004. However, only 7,356 foreigners had been granted the permits by 2013, reports China Daily. The Chinese "green card" is among the most difficult to obtain in the world due to the high requirements involved.
The permanent residence permit is an identity document for foreigners. There is no limit on the duration of a permanent resident's stay in China.