Beijing center helps woo foreign talent

By Xu Wei(chinadaily) Updated: 2016-03-02

A special service center was launched in Beijing on Tuesday offering permanent residence services to foreigners in the Zhongguancun high-tech hub as authorities seek to attract more overseas talent and investment.

The center will offer visa, residential permit and permanent residence services to foreigners who start businesses or are employed in the Zhongguancun National Demonstration Zone.

The center, in the capital's Haidian district, opened as 20 new measures were introduced on Tuesday to ease procedures for bringing in foreign talent.

Wang Xi, deputy head of Beijing Public Security Bureau's Exit-Entry Department, said the center would serve as a pilot program. Experience gained from the program would help to promote similar services throughout the city, or even nationwide.

"Restrictions have been relaxed to enable more foreign talent to come here to start new businesses," he said.

The policy will benefit top foreign professionals, overseas Chinese who graduate from foreign universities and start businesses in Beijing, foreign students in the capital and foreigners who work for entrepreneurial startups in the city, Wang said.

Under the evaluation system drafted by the Beijing Human Resource and Social Security Bureau, expatriates can apply for a permanent residence permit after working in Beijing for four consecutive years. They must have remained in the capital for at least six months each year.

They must also earn at least 500,000 yuan ($76,400) annually and pay at least 100,000 yuan in tax each year.

Wang said the permanent residence requirements were drafted after taking into account the average income level in the capital. "The evaluation system also includes market factors," he said.

On Tuesday, the center's service window attracted a number of foreigners making permanent residence and visa inquiries.

It also received four applications for permanent residence from foreigners, according to a staff member at the center who asked not to be identified.

Huang Ying, a United States citizen and vice-president of the Cloud and Intelligent Computing Department at Lenovo Research & Technology, was the first expatriate to apply for permanent residence at the center.

Huang said the application procedure took about one and a hlf hours and was simpler than he expected.

"Without permanent residence, it takes about 20 work days to apply for a work visa, and the approval process takes about a month. That means you must spend at least two months on the application process," he said.

Huang, a native of Shanghai, went to the United States in 1986 and later became a US citizen.

Andreas Haufe, a German citizen and manager at Beijing Benz Automotive, said he expects the center will help the company solve visa problems for its foreign employees.

"We appreciate the opening of the new center. We have about 250 colleagues who have to renew their visas every year. ... It is a question of time for our HR department to go to different visa offices for this task," he said.

Liu Shengnan contributed to the story.

xuwei@chinadaily.com.cn

Policy highlights

Beijing center helps woo foreign talent

1. Foreign talent employed in startups or other enterprises in Zhongguancun can now apply for a work visa valid for five years. There is no age limit.

2. Foreign members of a startup team in Zhongguancun can apply for a residence permit valid for five years if they fail to obtain a work visa.

3. The Zhongguancun National Demonstration Zone will introduce a credit evaluation system for permanent residence for foreign talent. Foreigners who attain the credits required can apply for permanent residence status.

4. Foreign students at higher education institutions in Beijing will be allowed to start their own businesses in Zhongguancun.

What they say

It's awesome. They answer all your questions. You know what you have to do in order to apply for a new visa or to get a green card, and also to open up a business in China. My goal is to do an internship here... so I'm very glad that they've changed the regulations right now.

Till Hain, an international student from Germany who is taking a Chinese-language program at Tsinghua University

I have just come here for some information about the new visa regulations. The staff have told me the procedure for getting a working visa is not complicated. Just come here well prepared with all the documents you need, and they will help you.

Osipova Natalia, a 21-year-old Russian international student at Tsinghua University

We have about 250 colleagues who have to renew their visas every year. ... Before, it took a lot of time for our human resources department to go to different visa offices to accomplish this task, but now this new office will help us solve the problem.

Andreas Haufe, general manager at Machining Powertrain Engines at Beijing Benz Automotive

The procedure to apply for permanent residence is really simple and fast, and the service staff members are nice. It took me just two days to prepare the necessary documents. I hope that my wife and my children will also be able to get a green card as soon as possible.

Sanjeev Menon, executive director, desktop product marketing at PC Group, Lenovo

(China Daily 03/02/2016 page1)

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