City enables top talent from abroad to have super visas

Shanghai is enabling top foreign professionals to apply for multi-entry visas valid for five to 10 years, with a 180-day stay for each entry.

Shanghai is enabling top foreign professionals to apply for multi-entry visas valid for five to 10 years, with a 180-day stay for each entry.  

Human resources authorities in the city presented the first batch of confirmation letters for eight such professionals to their employers yesterday.

With the letters, the eight — who are supported by local universities, research institutes and international companies — can now go to Chinese embassies and consulates abroad to apply for the super visas entitled “R” representing rencai, or talent in English.

The spouses and children aged under 18 of the selected eight professionals can also apply for the same visa with the same validity term.

Visa fees are waived for the R visas, even for urgent applications.

This is a new program piloted in Shanghai and a further eight provinces and cities in China from this year to attract overseas professionals by making it more convenient for them to participate in management, technology, scientific research, teaching and consultation affairs in China.

Eligible applicants include those qualified as top talent in the “categories of foreigners working in China,” such as top scientists, international entrepreneurs and leading figures in technology-intensive sectors, according to the talent visa policy released last November 28 that came into effect on January 1.

The entire application process is also made easier and much less cumbersome than before. 

Applications can now be submitted online without any paperwork involved.

Top professionals can get the letters that confirm their qualification for applying for the R visa in five working days — and their visas could even be issued the following day, together with those of their families.

Zhang Hongling, director of the international exchanges and cooperation office at Shanghai International Studies University, said that before the policy change, it took almost 20 working days.

The first eight beneficiaries of Shanghai’s super visa program include Michael Herzfeld, a British professor of anthropology at America’s Harvard University, who is closely involved with Shanghai International Studies University.

Zhang said Herzfeld has played a key role in improving the Shanghai university’s strength in anthropology and the new policy has provided timely help for it to retain his services.

The previously tedious process of applying for a Chinese visa had sometimes annoyed top professionals in the past, she added.

“Now we can do it online and don’t have to repeat the process in five to 10 years,” she said. “It’s good news both for him and for us.”

Another beneficiary is Dale Sanders, director of the John Innes Center in the United Kingdom, the world’s leading research institute in plant and microbial science.

He visits Shanghai once or twice a year as his institute runs the Center of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science with Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“The previous visa application procedure has in general been very efficient, but it took a longer time, involving filling out forms and being without a passport for a few days,” Sanders said. “I think the new policy is great and I feel very honored to be in the first group of foreign nationals to benefit from the policy. This will certainly make it more attractive for me to visit Shanghai more frequently.”

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