New rules give foreign experts five-year visas

Updated: 2012-12-12 02:57

By CHEN XIN and ZHENG XIN (China Daily)

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More overseas experts will be eligible for a visa that is valid for up to five years because of a new regulation.

The regulation, which was endorsed by five ministry-level departments in late September and released on Tuesday, stipulates that four groups of international professionals can benefit from the new long-term visa.

One group is people selected by the Recruitment Program of Global Experts, said Zhang Dong, a senior official with the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

China established the recruitment program in 2008, aiming to attract 2,000 overseas professionals to key projects across a range of sectors in the country, including engineering and finance.

The visa policy was first designed for recruits of the program.

Another group eligible for the visa are those working on projects carried out by central government departments, their affiliated public institutions and centrally administered enterprises, according to Zhang.

The third group is overseas talent introduced through provincial-level recruitment programs.

The fourth group is professionals recruited by high-level projects carried out by governments below the provincial level who are admitted by the department, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security or the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, he said.

Overseas experts whose business requires them to enter and exit the country multiple times can obtain a visa valid for five years, which allows them to stay in China for 180 days at a time.

Those who need to work or stay longer in China, can acquire a work visa or a two- to five-year residence permit, according to the regulation.

For the first time, the rules will allow the foreign spouses and children of Chinese overseas returnees to obtain long-term visa and residence permits or even permanent residence permits.

Currently, foreigners working in China can only obtain a two-year visa or residence permit.

Hiroshi Matsuno, a 57-year-old Japanese visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, who has to renew his visa every year, said he hopes the government will further explain the requirements for the new visa regulation.

"I have a foreign expert certificate and need to have my visa renewed every year," he said. "It is certainly a good thing that the Chinese government is easing its visa policy for foreigners and I really hope I can be included."

He said he hopes China will involve more foreign talent in various fields under the new policy, as many overseas professionals have contributed a lot to the nation, he said.

"I hope the new visa policy will benefit more foreigners in the country and we no longer have to go through the visa verification process so frequently," he said.

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Cang Wei, Cheng Yingqi and Cao Yin contributed to this story.