In February 2016, China’s General Office of the State Council issued its Opinion on Strengthening Management of the Service for Foreigners’ Permanent Residency (“Opinion”), setting out a framework for the development of less restrictive requirements for permanent residency (Green Card) applications in China by foreigners, and more generous benefits.
The Opinion provides that Chinese authorities will establish more flexible and practical standards for foreigners who apply for permanent residency, including with respect to qualifying thresholds for an applicant’s salary, tax payment history and credit rating. Applicants no longer need to be at a career level senior to deputy general manager/associate professor. In addition, the Opinion eliminates the requirement that applicants must provide a “significant contribution to China”.
The Opinion also clearly specifies new benefits for Green Card holders, including unlimited stays in China, exemption from visa requirements on entry and exit and full rights as Chinese citizens with respect to work, home purchases, driver’s license applications and child education. Visa and residence permit renewals will be required less frequently. One especially significant development is that a Green Card holder may now be hired as a foreign housekeeper in his/her home in China. In the past, foreigners could not serve as housekeepers within China.
Finally, the Opinion sets out guidelines for creating an easier application process: authorities will simplify application materials and shorten the time period for approval.