Permanent residence (Green card) in China: conditions for obtaining, requirements for foreigners

Since the Administration's Measures for Inspection and Approval for Foreigners for Permanent Residence (hereinafter referred to as "Measures") came into force in 2004, the standards for foreigners applying for a PRC Green Card have become quite high.


With the development of China's "opening up" policy and the growing demand for foreign talents, the Government has issued a series of related policies for foreigners to make it easier for them to live in China step by step, including the 12 immigration and entry-exit rules (hereinafter referred to as "12 rules"), issued by the National Immigration Administration in August 2019.


On February 27, 2020, the Ministry of Justice of China issued Regulations on the Management of Permanent Residence of Foreigners (Preliminary Draft) (2020) (hereinafter referred to as "Preliminary Draft").


Since its release, the draft has attracted a lot of attention from foreigners living in China, compared to previous policies, the bill has evolved so much that it can become a new benchmark in China's permanent residence status (hereinafter referred to as "Public Relations Status"). WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE The current draft provides for six categories of people eligible for permanent residence, including foreigners with outstanding contributions, foreigners with internationally recognized achievements, foreign talents represented in China, foreigners working in China, foreigners making investments in China, and foreigners who have family members live in China.


The specific requirements of each category are summarized as follows:


FOREIGNERS WITH OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS Foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to China's economic and social development (including development in science, technology, education, culture, health care, sports, public welfare, friendly Sino-foreign exchanges, etc.) can apply for PR status after the local governments at the provincial level were recommended. In a similar category, the 2004 Measures states that foreigners who have contributed to China can apply for PR status if they meet certain standard requirements, such as health and a clean criminal record. Foreign nationals who have achieved internationally recognized excellence in the fields of economics, science and technology, education, culture, health or sports can directly apply for permanent residence.


In the past, some cities have opened up immigration policies according to the need to introduce talent. For example, the policy in Shanghai stipulates that foreigners with internationally recognized excellence who come to Shanghai can directly apply for permanent residence.


Thus, the project can be seen as a promotion and reproduction of previous practice, but the detailed criteria for "internationally recognized outstanding achievements" have not yet been determined by the national immigration authorities in consultation with the relevant departments of the Council of State. Foreigners who are recognized in China for their achievements in China's economic and social development can apply for PR status.

These foreigners include:

1) Urgently needed talents represented by key industries and regions of the state and recommended by the competent authority;

2) academics and researchers with associate professorships and above nominated and recommended by key state universities and research institutions, and professors and researchers nominated and recommended by other universities and research institutions;

3) high-tech enterprises, innovative enterprises, senior management and senior professional workers introduced and recommended by domestic well-known enterprises, or

4) Professionals recommended by foreigners who have received PR status due to their internationally recognized achievements. The project provides that the aforementioned talents must meet certain qualification requirements. In addition, applicants must receive advice from the Chinese authorities or qualified professionals. Further talent identification standards will be developed in consultation with relevant authorities.


Article 15 of the bill contains a new provision that a foreign national can apply for PR status if they work in China with a good tax and credit history and satisfy one of the following situations:


1) have a PhD or graduated from a well-known international university and have worked in China for at least three consecutive years, during which the actual actual period of residence is at least one year;


2) Work in one of the key industries or regions developed by the state for three consecutive years, during which the accumulated actual period of residence is at least one year, and the annual income is at least four times the average income of the local population. prior year;


3) have worked in China for four consecutive years, during which the accumulated actual period of residence is at least two years, and the annual income is at least six times the average local income of the previous year;


4) have worked in China for eight consecutive years, during which the actual period of residence is at least four years, and the annual income is at least three times the average local income for the previous year.


Thus, while only a few applicants previously met the requirements, the 12 rules relaxed the previous job level requirements for applicants so that the requirements for attracting foreign talent were more in line with market valuation and market demand.


The 12-rule project has further relaxed the conditions and requirements for permanent residence status by expanding the policy that previously applied to Chinese expatriates to ordinary foreigners, increasing the number of times people can apply for continuous employment and de facto residence, and easing requirements. to income and tax standards.


A foreign citizen can apply for PR status if he

 - makes investments in China in accordance with the Foreign Investment Law;

- invested steadily in China for three years;

 - has a good tax and credit history;

- foreigners meet any of the following circumstances:


1) They have invested at least 10 million yuan (approximately US$1.43 million at current exchange rates) in China;


2) They have made investments in areas encouraged by China, and the investment value, tax payments and Chinese employees meet certain conditions;


3) They have established high-tech or innovative firms in China and are recommended by provincial governments.


Based on the fact that some cities have set specific standards for applying for permanent residence, the project integrates the experience of various provinces, sets standards for the amount of investment across the country, adds criteria that can be applied, and further establishes the requirements for applications for permanent residence status for foreign investors.

Those in need of family reunification may apply for permanent residence if they fall into one of the following circumstances:


1) The spouse is a Chinese citizen or a foreigner permanently resident in China and has lived with the spouse in China for five years after marriage and has accumulated actual residence for at least nine months each year, with stable residence security and place residence;


2) Children under the age of eighteen reside in China or live with foreign parents permanently residing in China;


3) Persons over the age of sixty who have no immediate relatives abroad and are dependent on the immediate relatives of Chinese nationality residing in China or foreign relatives with permanent citizenship who permanently reside in China and must stay in China five times in a row. years, living at least 9 months a year, with a stable security of residence and residence.


In addition, the spouse and children of a foreign citizen may simultaneously apply for a residence permit if they meet any of the five relevant categories mentioned above.




According to the bill, the Exit Administration or the National Immigration Office of the public security agency at the place of residence must scrutinize applications, including the applicants' nationality, credit history, work and life in China, and all other relevant information.

The term is 120 days and the quota waiting time is not taken into account. A decision is made to refuse to grant permanent residence status to a foreigner who resorts to fraud in the application process or cannot guarantee the necessary living expenses in China and under other special circumstances.


Since it is provided that the quota waiting time is not included, a quota system can be introduced for foreigners with the right to permanent residence. The specific quota system needs further clarification. So, while the project appears to relax the requirements for permanent residence status, it remains to be seen how many foreigners will actually receive permanent residence status after the formal regulation is put in place.


Foreign nationals who have been granted a residence permit have the same rights and obligations as Chinese citizens, except for the right to vote and special rights and obligations under the laws and regulations of the PRC.


Appropriate treatment and benefits include, but are not limited to, permanent residence in China, no additional entry and exit visa, no need to apply for a work permit to work, education for children, purchase of houses in accordance with local regulations, participation in social security, and etc.