Foreign talent favored under new pilot scheme

Dozens of visitors have now received a Foreigner Work Permit issued by the Changning Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.
Ti Gong

Foreigners can now apply for their work permits in Shanghai, at the Shanghai Hongqiao One-Stop Service Center of Overseas Talents in Changning District.

Ti Gong

Three South Korean pilots receive their work permits in Changning, to become the first outsiders to acquire Foreigner Work Permits in the district.

Foreign talent favored under new pilot scheme

Dozens of visitors have now received a Foreigner Work Permit issued by the Changning Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs since the organization was given the green light to do so in May.

The Changning administration is also authorized for subsequent monitoring. As the first of its kind at district level, the administrative agency launched a one-counter service for foreigners who applied for work permits in the district.

South Korean pilots Hwang Tae In, Kim Jae Cheol and Oh Eung Seok became the first three to acquire Foreigner Work Permits in Changning. The three received the certificates jointly issued by Changning District Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and Changning Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs earlier this year.

Changning was among the first in Shanghai, as well as the country, to pilot the new unified work permit system for foreigners.

The previous Foreign Experts Certificate (R-visa) and Alien Employment Permit (Z-visa) have been integrated into the new permit system for foreigners in China.

The three-tiered system classifies foreign workers as A, B or C level candidates. The classification system takes into account candidates’ education, salary level, age, time spent working in China and Chinese language skills.

A is for top talent, B for professional talent, C for unskilled workers or those working in the service industry.

Simplifying the application process will mean some materials will no longer be needed, such as a personal resume.

Current work permits can still be used as long as their dates are valid.

The Shanghai Hongqiao One-Stop Service Center of Overseas Talents at 999 Jinzhong Road started accepting applications from December.

A total of 770 Changning-based employers have registered at the center, which has received 1,705 applications online and 587 applications at the counter since the launch of the service.

Nearly 1,000 applicants have finished the process while 136 of them received their work permit (126 with the permit issued by Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs).

Changning’s job epitomizes Shanghai’s reform in its overseas talent recruitment policies in recent years.

The city is now sparing no effort to offer a variety of conveniences to overseas talents. It canceled the 60-year-old age limit to apply or get work and residence permits for high-level foreign professionals in 2015.

If the applicants are recognized as “foreign talent” by the authorities, they could be issued permits lasting five years. And they can also apply for a permanent residence permit after working for three years if their employers back their case.

In addition, foreign students with a master’s degree can directly look for jobs in Zhangjiang High-tech Industrial Development Zone and the Pilot Free Trade Zone.

Previously, foreigners needed to have at least two years’ work experience to apply for work and residence permits in Shanghai, which means they need to go back to their countries and work for two years before they can apply for jobs in Shanghai.

What’s more, Shanghai also allows regional headquarters of transnational companies, investment companies and foreign-funded research and development centers, which are registered in the two trade zones, to employ graduates from leading foreign universities, with or without work experience.

The policy lowers requirements for foreigners involved in scientific and technological innovation to obtain Shanghai Residence Card B, which enables holders to enjoy certain citizen benefits.

The city will provide extra benefits for the card holders, such as exemption from housing property tax for their only residence, allowing their children aged from 3 to 12 to study at local schools and participation in a local housing provident fund, said the government.

Shanghai also lowers the threshold for permanent residence applicants, allowing expats, who have worked in the city for four consecutive years and have lived in China for at least 6 months a year, to apply for the residence permit providing their salaries meet required levels.

Changning is home to around 69,000 expats from 78 countries and regions, accounting for one third of the city’s expats and nearly 10 percent of the district’s population which turns the district into an international community of excellence.

One third of the consulates-general in Shanghai are in the district while more than half of the diplomats and foreign consular officials also reside here.

Many of the expats cite Changning’s quality buildings, high level urban development, convenient transport and green landscapes for their deep affection for the district.

As well as enjoying the first grade infrastructure and convenient lifestyle in Changning, it is also hoped the district will build its own soccer and basketball teams, corp de ballet and symphony orchestra and offer foreigners more work and training opportunities.

Expatriates who work or live in Changning are deeply impressed by its well-developed transport, commercial facilities, attractive views and cleanliness.

Many foreign-funded companies have or plan to set up their regional headquarters here to enhance ties with local business.

Some people suggest Changning preserves its historic blocks and old buildings, streamline government approval processes and provide more schooling and medical resources to foreign residents. They also want weekend concerts and more cultural activities for their spare time for a better life in Changning.

Ti Gong

Foreigners attend a workshop in Changning, which is home to around 69,000 expats from 78 countries and regions, accounting for one third of the city’s expats.

Ti Gong

Foreigners learn to wrap zongzi, a traditional Chinese snack. Culture rich Changning is a magnet for foreigners to live and work.

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