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Shanghai Free Trade Zone: Shanghai relaxes immigration rules for overseas talent

Updated: Nov 21,2018 4:42 PM     CGTN

2018 marks the 5th anniversary of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Earlier in November, President Xi Jinping said that bold steps should be taken to facilitate more trade and investment in the zone.

Lathika Chandra Mouli graduated from New York University Shanghai with a bachelor’s degree last year. She found a job at a blockchain startup in Shanghai, thanks to a new scheme called Talent Visa. Previously, foreigners needed two years of work experience before applying for a Chinese work permit.

“If you have undergraduate degree, and you don’t have two years work experience, it was very hard to get a visa, so I was originally very uncertain about whether I could stay in China after graduation. There were a couple of internships that I did during my undergraduate period, but I was worried that they couldn’t give me a visa, and I cannot work in China,” said Lathika Chandra Mouli, business development manager at Energo Labs.

The Talent Visa was launched in Shanghai in 2017. It is just one of a batch of new policies within the Shanghai Free Trade Zone that relaxes work permit and green card requirements for overseas talent. Hong Chow is a German Chinese and the country manager of a world-leading biotech company. She was the first to get the “Chinese green card” for the free trade zone foreign talent.

“I was very surprised that I got the country’s first resident permit for the free trade zone foreign talent. Because initially I thought this is reserved for top scientists, like part of the thousand talent program, and me without a science background, but I guess this policy also expanded into business leaders,” said Hong Chow, general manager at Roche China.

The city hopes these relaxed immigration rules will promote Shanghai as an innovation hub.

“We want top talent, which the city urgently needs. The scale of the talent has widened. In the past, green card applicants had to be awarded by officials or authorities. Now the criteria are based more on market and industry standards,” said Cai Baodi, director at Exit-Entry Administration, Shanghai Public Security Bureau.

Authorities say the Shanghai Free Trade Zone will make the flow of talent more flexible in the future. They hope this will facilitate more trade and investment and gather insight on whether similar policies could work elsewhere in the country.