China starts issuing 10-year 'R' visas

Professionals take advantage of new visa program that speeds the application process and allows multiple entries over a 10-year period. 

JAPANESE scientist Nami Nakamori wrote on WeChat: “Finally I got it! I will come!”

The 31-year-old was delighted to have received a multiple-entry visa that allows her to visit China over the next 10 years without needing to apply for a visa each time.

She can stay up to 180 days on each visit.

Nakamori was one of the first batch of foreigners to get the “R” visa for top foreign professionals. “R” means rencai, or professionals in English.

She arrived in Shanghai on February 28 to begin her post-doctoral research on lead-free piezoelectric ceramic materials at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics. The research is aimed at eliminating the negative effects of lead piezoelectric material on humans and promote sustainable development.

Yuan Xiaoyu, director of the institute’s top talent recruitment program, said the new visa program helped Nakamori get her visa in five days.

When Yuan heard about the new visa, she submitted an application online for Nakamori. A letter confirming Nakamori as a top foreign talent eligible for the new visa was received the next day.

Nakamori took the letter to the Chinese Embassy in Japan on the morning of January 30 and had her visa by 4pm the same day.

“I’m very happy and surprised to get the visa in just one day because I had spent six months to get the visa for another country where I planned to study,” Nakamori said.

Yuan said the new program saves time as it allows applicants, who can be top scientists, international entrepreneurs or leading figures in technology-intensive sectors, to sign a promise of authenticity of some information rather than submit documents. That can speed up the process.

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

He got his confirmation letter on January 15 and a 10-year multi-entry visa 11 days later. He is due to arrive in Shanghai on Thursday.

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

The institute used to have to send him an invitation one to two months before each visit and the process involved many forms to fill. He said the new policy made it more attractive for him to visit Shanghai.

The visa program is being piloted in Shanghai and another eight provinces and cities in China this year to attract overseas professionals.

Since it took effect on January 1, Shanghai has issued confirmation letters to 52 experts invited by local universities, research institutes and R&D centers. Professionals can also apply for visas for their spouses and children. Visa fees are waived for “R” visas.

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