China relaxes immigration rules to attract and retain more highly skilled overseas talents
China’s Ministry of Public Security is to relax its immigration rules, opening the door to more highly skilled overseas workers and allowing a greater number of foreigners the opportunity to become permanent residents. The rule changes, which will take effect from August, will also allow top talents from abroad to apply for long-term visas and make it easier for budding overseas entrepreneurs to start a business in China, the ministry announced on Wednesday.

Previously, only foreign talents who made “major and extraordinary contributions” while in China or who filled a skills gap were allowed to apply for permanent residence. From next month, those with in-demand skills and those whose annual income or taxes reached a specified threshold can apply for permanent residence, as can their spouses and underage children.

Those who have held a job in China for four years in a row and have been resident for at least six months each year, whose annual income is higher than six times the annual average worker’s wage in their city of residence, and who pay at least 20 per cent of their income in taxes, are eligible for permanent residence under the new rules.

In Beijing, the average salary last year was 94,258 yuan (US$13,706), setting the threshold for overseas candidates at 565,548 yuan (US$82,236) per annum. The revised policy will also make it easier for people of Chinese ethnicity from overseas to apply for permanent residence. Those with a doctoral degree, or who have worked in what the ministry called “key development areas” for four years with a stay of at least six months each year are also eligible for permanent residence.