China Green Cards: Guangzhou Mulls New Scheme for High-Level Talent

Posted by Written by Arendse Huld Reading Time: 7 minutes

A new China green card scheme proposed in the southern city of Guangzhou aims to attract high-level talent from both within and outside of China to the city. The scheme offers two levels of green cards to high-level talent that provide a range of benefits to aid relocation, living, working, and conducting business in Guangzhou. The green card is a proposed talent scheme; it is not technically a visa, residency, or work permit scheme.

The city of Guangzhou in China’s southern Guangdong Province is considering rolling out a new green card scheme that will make it easier for some foreign nationals, as well as Chinese nationals that aren’t Guangzhou residents, to relocate, work, and start businesses in the city.

The scheme, called the ‘Talent Green Card System’ (‘green card’), was proposed in a new set of measures, titled the Implementation Measures for the Guangzhou Talent Green Card System (the ‘measures’), issued by the Guangzhou Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (HRSSGZ) on November 16, 2021. 

The HRSSGZ is now soliciting opinions from the public on the measures until November 25, 2021. The measures offer two different types of green cards depending on the experience level of the candidate and provide a series of benefits and privileges to attract high-level talent and entrepreneurs to relocate to the city.

Note that the green card is not technically a visa, residency, or work permit scheme, rather it is a talent scheme that provides some streamlined administrative and social services to high-level talent. In addition, only some of the people involved in the scheme are eligible for privileges such as streamlined visa, residency, and work permit applications, as will be explained in more detail below.

What are the two types of green cards that Guangzhou is proposing? 

There are two types of green cards, A cards and B cards. Eligibility requirements for A cards are more stringent, but the card offers a much wider range of benefits, including streamlined visa and work permit application processes and longer-term residence permits.

A cards are valid for up to five years, depending on the applicant’s circumstances, whereas B cards are valid for only one year. B cards can be extended for another year after the first year only or transferred to an A card where eligible. 

Below are the visa benefits and permit that A cardholders can enjoy. 

Visa Benefits for ‘A Cardholders’ in Guangzhou
Foreigner work permit  Streamlined application procedure 
Residence permit  Streamlined application procedure; permit duration of two to five years 
Talent (R) visa  Streamlined transfer to R visa; maximum duration of five years; 180-day maximum stay per entry; zero, one, two, or multiple re-entries 

In addition to the visa benefits, which are exclusive to foreign candidates, A cardholders can also enjoy a wide range of privileges when relocating to Guangzhou, which includes the same treatment and access to education, housing, and social security as local residents receive, as well as more specialized privileges, such as waived customs duties. 

B cardholders, meanwhile, can only receive a few of the benefits that A cardholders receive.

Below is an overview of some of the benefits enjoyed by A and B cardholders. 

Other Benefits for Green Cardholders in Guangzhou
Benefit  Description  Cardholder eligibility 
Customs duties exemption for personal and professional items  High-level foreign science and technology experts (those holding high-level talent identification certificates issued by the relevant government department) who have worked in China for one year or more can enjoy customs duties exemptions on a reasonable number of items required for personal, research, and teaching purposes.  A cardholders 
Priority in hukou application  Cardholders, their spouses, and their underage children can directly apply to the public security department for hukou registration and enjoy priority procedures.  A cardholders 
Convenient access to education for school-age children  Preschool-aged children of cardholders are eligible for computer allocation of kindergartens run by the education department of the district in which they live.  K-9 (those in the mandatory education stage) aged children can receive a place in a public school arranged by the education department (including government-held places in private schools) in the district in which they live (in line with the treatment afforded to local families).  High school-aged children participating in the high school entrance examination can enjoy the same treatment for application as local candidates and are eligible to apply for public general high schools, private general high schools, and secondary vocational schools.  A cardholders and B cardholders who have purchased a home in Guangzhou 
Eligibility for professional trainingoccupational qualifications, and talent subsidies  Eligibility to participate in professional and technical personnel title review, vocational skills training, national vocational qualification examinations, and national vocational qualification appraisals. Those who have obtained work (or projects) that are within the scope of either Guangdong’s or Guangzhou’s subsidy schemes, and have obtained the corresponding certificates, can apply for labor vocational skill upgrade subsidies.  A cardholders 
Expedited application for business licenses When investing in and establishing a business in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents, foreign nationals, and Chinese nationals who have obtained permanent residency in a foreign country can directly apply for a business license without having to notarize and authenticate their valid identity document again.  A cardholders 
Streamlined foreign currency transfer  Eligible to open an account in any bank in Guangzhou; procedures for the purchase and payment of foreign exchange for foreign exchange remittances, renminbi profits generated from starting a business, and legal renminbi income obtained in Guangzhou, can be handed at a designated foreign exchange bank.  A cardholders 
Eligibility for housing benefits  Cardholders are eligible to enjoy housing security benefits, such as talent apartment and shared property housing.  A cardholders 
Eligibility for social insurance  Those who plan to participate in social insurance in Guangzhou can go through the procedures for the transfer and continuation of various social insurance relationships. Those who meet the requirements can participate in the city’s basic medical and endowment insurance.   
Eligibility for housing fund  Those who conform to the relevant system of Guangzhou’s housing fund can pay and withdraw the housing fund and handle housing fund transfer and continuation procedures. When applying for a housing fund loan, cardholders are entitled to the same treatment as local employees with registered permanent residence.  A and B cardholders 
Eligibility to apply for passenger vehicle quota and registration  Streamlined application for driver’s licenses; eligibility to apply for Guangzhou’s small and mid-sized passenger vehicle quotas and vehicle registration procedures, receiving the same treatment as local residents.  A and B cardholders, subsidiary A cardholders 
Eligibility to purchase a home  Non-registered residents are granted the same rights to purchase a home for their own use as local residents; Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan residents, foreign nationals, and Chinese nationals with permanent (long-term) foreign residency and no Chinese hukou are eligible to purchase a home for their own use.  A and B cardholders, subsidiary A cardholders 
Note: The above list is not exhaustive. 

In addition to the above, A cardholders can also apply for subsidiary cards for any accompanying family members, such as a spouse, underage children, parents, and in-laws. The holders of a subsidiary card can enjoy the same visa as the A cardholder, as well as some of the additional benefits listed above. 

Who is eligible to apply for a green card? 

To be eligible to apply for either an A or a B card, applicants must be either of the following: 

  • A Chinese citizen without a Guangzhou hukou
  • A resident of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan 
  • A foreign citizen
  • A study abroad student or other personnel with Chinese citizenship and permanent residency in a foreign country, but no domestic hukou

In addition to the above, candidates for the green card scheme must be classified as ‘high-level’ talent. These requirements for meeting the ‘high-level’ talent classification are similar for A and B card candidates. 

However, to be eligible for an A card, candidates must already be working or engaging in business in Guangzhou for at least six months per year. For B cards, on the other hand, there are less strict time requirements.

Duration of Work in Guangzhou for Green Card Eligibility
A card  B card 
Minimum six months per year working or conducting business in Guangzhou  Maximum six months per year working or conducting business in Guangzhou  
  Maximum six months total working in a government agency or institution in Guangzhou 
  Minimum six months per year working or conducting business in the Guangfo High-quality Development Convergence Pilot Zone, Guangqing Special Economic Cooperation Zone, or other regions 

Who is classified as high-level talent in Guangzhou? 

Below are the different categories of talent that are eligible to apply for an A or a B card, and the list of achievements or positions they must have to be classified as such.

1. High-level and high-skilled talent selected or verified by Guangzhou, including (but not limited to): 

  • Recipients of internationally renowned awards or China’s highest national science and technology awards 
  • High-level academics in China or developed countries and regions 
  • Young and middle-aged experts who have made outstanding contributions to China 
  • Main performers of the National Natural Science Award, Technical Invention Award, and Science and Technology Progress Award projects 
  • Candidates for major talent projects in Guangdong Province, Guangdong Province Laboratory, Guangdong Province Provincial key laboratory, provincial new research, and development institution, provincial high-level innovation research institute academic and technical leader, provincial technical expert. 
  • Experts with professional and technical qualifications above senior level and more than 10 years of experience in related fields.

2. High-level overseas talent with a certain amount of overseas working, studying, or entrepreneurship experience, including (but not limited to): 

  • Experts or academics with an associate professor level or above position at a famous overseas university or research institute. 
  • Talent who has held a senior position and has more than three years of experience in R&D or administration at a Forbes 500 or other famous international company. 
  • Candidates who are proficient in core technology, have their own patents, and whose technological achievements have reached an advanced level internationally or leading level domestically and have good market prospects and industrialization potential. 
  • Leading talent with experience in starting businesses and innovating overseas who brings technology, projects, and capital to start a business in one of Guangzhou’s core industries or fields that can help develop the industry in Guangzhou. 
  • Talent who holds work permits for foreigners to come to China (Type A), confirmation letters for foreign high-level talents, confirmation letters for high-level foreign talents in Guangdong Province, and confirmation letters for high-level talents in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, or Guangdong.

3. High-level academic talent, including (but not limited to): 

  • Talent with post-doctoral research experience or with a postgraduate degree from a ‘Double First’ or former ‘985’ or ‘211’ Project university, and who has received a postdoctoral place at the university. 
  • Talent with a postdoctoral degree from a worldwide top 300 international university in China and abroad, and who has received a postdoctoral place at the university. 
  • Talent with an undergraduate degree from a worldwide top 100 university in China or abroad and who has received a postgraduate place at the university. 

Additional eligibility categories for A cardholders 

In addition to the above eligibility criteria for both A and B card applicants, the measures outline additional eligibility categories for A card applicants specifically. They are: 

  1. Talent who is the main contractor of a key project in Guangzhou, or the main contractor of a key project in one of Guangzhou’s strategic leading industries, or who currently holds a senior management or core technical position at a headquarter enterprise designated by the city of Guangzhou or one of Guangzhou’s major industrial investment projects. 
  2. Foreigners and residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao who have an annual salary that is at least six times higher than the average salary of Guangzhou in the prior year and who pay at least RMB 120,000 in annual personal income tax in Guangzhou. 

Applicants must still have worked in Guangzhou for at least six months a year to be eligible for an A card if they fall into the above categories.

How can candidates apply for a green card? 

Applications for the green card will be conducted entirely online through the HRSSGZ website or the Suihaoban app. The initial review and acceptance procedure takes five business days. Successful applicants are then issued certificates after five working days and will receive the green card after another three working days.


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