|'Green card' process may get easier|
Draft gives expats path to permanent residency in China
Foreigners who live in China for 10 consecutive years may be eligible for a "green card",according to a proposed draft regulation.
The draft, and other amendments to ease requirements for permanent residency, is beingconsidered by the Ministry of Public Security.
Liu Guofu, an immigration law expert at the Beijing Institute of Technology, revealed that theministry proposed lowering the threshold for applicants at a symposium in August, and isgauging feedback from experts.
Liu said the draft mostly targets immigrants in the field of technology who will be able to applyfor permanent residency after living in China for 10 consecutive years, provided they havespent at least nine months each year in the country. They must be employed, haveaccommodation and a good tax record. The success of their application will no longer bedependent on the position they hold.
Current regulations require applicants, in the technological sector, to hold a position of deputygeneral manager or associate professor (or higher) for at least four successive years.
If the draft is approved, more foreigners will be eligible to apply for a green card.
Qu Yunhai, a senior official at the Ministry of Public Security, said in October that hisdepartment is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to draft a document that could resultin more permanent residency permits being issued, China News Service reported.
The Ministry of Public Security confirmed that the draft document is being prepared but did notprovide further information due to the sensitivity of the issue.
China started to grant permanent residency permits to foreigners in 2004. Since then morethan 4,700 foreigners have received permits.
Beijing police said that out of about 850 foreigners who had applied for the permits, more than780 applications had been approved by mid-October.
China approved about 248 applications in the technological sector annually from 2004 to 2011,a rather low rate for a country eager for expertise, Liu said.
The stringent requirements are part of the reason for the low numbers, Liu said.
"The current method of evaluating a foreigner's contribution to China by the rank of his post isone-sided and also deters overseas expertise from coming," he said.
Other than assessing the rank of applicants, he suggested the government classify foreignersby sectors and list the most required skills needed for potential immigrants.
As for investment immigration, where applicants set up a commercial enterprise, Liu said thedraft also proposes reducing the investment criteria.
China's first legislation covering the exit and entry of Chinese citizens and foreigners, the Lawon the Exit and Entry Administration, was passed in June and will take effect in July 2013. Itallows for an increase in the number of green cards.
Wang Huiyao, deputy director of China Talent Research, an institute affiliated to the Ministry ofHuman Resources and Social Security, said the government is also planning to broaden theuse of green cards.
He said the human resources authority will soon release a document that allows green cardholders to enjoy equal rights as Chinese citizens, except for the right to elect and be elected.
He said the document was signed this month and will be introduced possibly as early asDecember.
Under the new document, green card holders will be able to use the card as a travel certificate,such as checking in at hotels, he said.
"Most importantly, it's expected to eventually build a personal network by associating the user'sbank account, insurance account and medical care account with the permit. That makes lifeeasier for foreigners," he said.
Emilie Bourgois, a public relations manager in Beijing, has been studying and working in thecountry for more than four years.
She said it is sensible to require a minimum of 10 years, since China is among the "hottestdestinations" in the world.
Green cards provide foreigners with a sense of security, especially for those married withchildren.
"Green card applicants usually have devoted a big chunk of their life to China and deserve theconvenience of permanent residency," she said.