China: New Talent Visa Rules Published

(Feb. 9, 2018) On January 9, 2018, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) published the rules on the issuance of the talent visa, a new type of visa designed to attract more foreign talent to the country. The Implementation Measures Regarding the Foreign Talent Visa System (Talent Visa Measures) provide that, effective November 28, 2017, qualified foreign talents may obtain the talent visa (R visa), which is valid for five to ten years with multiple entries. The Measures were jointly issued by the SAFEA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on the date the Measures went into effect. (Waiguo Rencai Qianzheng Zhidu Shishi Banfa [Implementation Measures Regarding the Foreign Talent Visa System] (Nov. 28, 2017), SAFEA website.)

  1. Legal Provisions

The issuance of the talent visa was addressed by Chinese law as early as 2012 when the PRC Exit and Entry Law was adopted. The Law provides that, effective July 1, 2013, “talent introduction” would be considered one of the reasons for the issuance of an ordinary visa. (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Chujing Rujing Guanli Fa [PRC Law on the Administration of Exit and Entry] (adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on June 30, 2012, effective July 1, 2013) (Exit and Entry Law) art. 16, The Central People’s Government website.)

Authorized by the Exit and Entry Law, the State Council promulgated a regulation governing visa issuance and foreigners’ stays in China—the Regulation on the Administration of the Entry and Exit of Aliens—which went into effect on September 1, 2013. The Regulation specifies that an R visa will be issued to top foreign talents and specialized talents urgently needed by China. (Laney Zhang, China: New Visa Rules Passed, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 26, 2013).) Detailed rules concerning the issuance of this new type of visa, however, were not published until now, with the Talent Visa Measures clarifying such issues as R-visa application procedures, eligibility, and validation.

  1. Top Foreign Talents

On March 28, 2017, the SAFEA, MFA, MPS, and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security jointly issued the Standards for the Classification of Foreigners Coming to Work in China (Trial) (Standards), which classified foreigners intending to work in China in three categories: Category A, top foreign talents; Category B, professional personnel; and Category C, other foreigners, including nontechnical workers or service workers hired on a temporary or seasonal basis, and foreign interns and students. (Waiguoren Laihua Gongzuo Fenlei Biaozhun (Shixing) [Standards for the Classification of Foreigners Coming to Work in China (Trial)] (Mar. 28, 2017, effective Apr. 1, 2017), SAFEA website.) According to the Talent Visa Measures, only top foreign talents—Category A under the Standards—are eligible to apply for an R visa. (Measures art. 4.)

Category A includes a wide range of foreign talents, such as Nobel Prize winners, professors or associate professors from renowned overseas universities, high-level officials of foreign governments, international organizations or NGOs, successful artists, sports coaches and players, senior managers at Fortune 500 companies, and postdoctoral students under 40 years of age. Anyone who is selected by a national or local government talent program or scores over 85 in the newly designed point system is also considered a top foreign talent. (Id.)

  1. Advantages of the Talent Visa

Talent visas may be valid for five to ten years with multiple entries. Spouses and minor children of the holder may obtain corresponding types of visas with the same entries and periods of validity. (Measures art. 7.) Talent- visa applicants may receive their visas as quickly as two days after applying and are not required to pay any application or expediting fee. (Id. arts 8 & 9.) Talent visa holders still need to apply for a work permit in order to work in China; the application, however, may be completed online, and the authority makes the decision within three work days. (Id. art. 10.)

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