Shanghai’s New Startup Visa

Posted by Written by Vivian Mao and Dorcas Wong Reading Time: 2 minutes

A new “business startup visa” has been piloted across select districts in Shanghai, giving foreign entrepreneurs the ability to live in China as they establish a business.

In May 2018, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau updated the policies for a new “Private Residence Permit (entrepreneurship)”, commonly referred to as the “business startup visa” (创业签证) , which offers foreigners a chance to establish a new and innovative startup business within Shanghai.

This visa is valid for one year, but can be extended for a further one year if the foreign entrepreneur is able to demonstrate the successful incorporation of a company within this time. Alternatively, this visa can be transferred to a work permit once the company is set up.

To date, the visa has only been piloted in certain districts in Shanghai, including Changning and Yangpu.

The business startup visa is unique in that its scope of eligibility is expansive — it includes individuals who have traditionally been excluded from many other visa categories, such as inexperienced graduates and individuals older than 60 years old.

Compared to traditional work permits, the business startup visa also gives investors and key management staff alike flexibility in conducting auxiliary business activities such as market research, business development, staff recruitment, lease searching, initial company setup procedures, etc. before getting the company legally established.

The following people are eligible to apply for the business startup visa:

  1. Foreign students who have the willingness to innovate and start a business in Shanghai and graduated from a higher education institution in China;
  2. Foreigners planning to invest in Shanghai or innovate in business; and
  3. Excellent overseas graduates from top Chinese universities or world-renowned universities who have been graduated for no more than two years but have made outstanding achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship in Shanghai.

Besides these special requirements, most of the required documents are similar to that required of other types of visa applications.

Notably, under the business startup visa, an applicant will be required to submit an entrepreneurship or investment related certificate from certain economic development zones, high-tech parks, or corporate incubator spaces designated by the government.

The business startup visa is just the latest policy rolled out by the Shanghai government to stimulate the city’s economic development through innovation and attracting high-level talent.

Recently, Shanghai released a series of 100 new measures, which include a variety of opening-up measures designed to ease market access in many key industry sectors.

Earlier this year, Shanghai also rolled out preferential visa and green card policies and business establishment incentives for top foreign talent.

However, Shanghai is far from the only Chinese city to launch visa incentives for foreign talent. Beijing and Yunnan province, for example, are among the regions that have released policies this year to attract high-end foreign talent.

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