Beijing Announces Visa and FDI Incentives to Attract Foreign Talent

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Beijing has announced new visa, residency, and foreign investment incentives in a bid to attract top overseas talent to its high-tech Zhongguancun Science Park.

Those who qualify for the incentives will benefit from longer visa terms and permanent residence status – also known as China’s green card. Those holding permanent residency will be allowed to act as the legal representatives of new research institutes in Zhongguancun and lead national-level innovation projects there.

The visa incentives also give foreign talents and their families freer cross-border travel, the option to enroll their children in local schools, and the ability to employ foreign domestic workers. Last year, Shanghai became the first city in mainland China to grant residency to foreign domestic workers.

Additionally, it will be easier for foreign experts and academics temporarily visiting Zhongguancun to acquire five-year multiple-entry visas for themselves and their families.

Besides entry-exit incentives, Beijing has relaxed rules for foreign investment in recruitment agencies located in Zhongguancun. Previously, foreign investors had to have three years of experience running a recruitment agency prior to investment. This rule has been scrapped for recruitment agencies located in Zhongguancun, though foreign investment in the industry is still capped at 70 percent.

The entry-exit incentives are part of Beijing’s efforts to strengthen its high-tech and research and development sectors. Many leading tech companies have a presence in Zhongguancun, including China’s Lenovo and Sohu, as well as global companies such as Google, Intel, and Microsoft.

However, Beijing faces competition from not only Silicon Valley for attracting talent, but also from other Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. Shanghai released a similar package of visa incentives earlier this year to bolster its own attractiveness to foreign experts.

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