THE effort to attract and retain more foreign professionals to work in Shanghai has produced an initiative that is the first of its kind in China.
The Pudong New Area government has announced the establishment of the Administration of Overseas Talents that will offer a one-stop service for overseas professionals.
The service will gather together the related government managements and services, said Xu Wen, director with Pudong’s human resources and social security bureau.
The aim is to be better able to attract outstanding foreign talent to build a “highland” in Pudong for professionals from across the world, Xu told a press conference.
Last Friday, Chow Hong, general manager with Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals, who has German nationality, became the first foreign professional to benefit from the “fast track” process to receive the Chinese green card, or foreigner’s permanent residence card, under the recommendation of the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) committee.
The Pudong government also issued the nation’s first work permit for foreign graduates from local schools to Tyler Rhorick, an American graduate from New York University Shanghai with a bachelor’s degree. Local foreign graduates with a bachelor’s degree can now apply for a work permit and work in the FTZ or the Zhangjiang zone.
Since July 2015, 25 companies located in the FTZ have employed 28 foreign graduates from universities in Shanghai with at least a master’s degree. Under the reform, foreign graduates from the “world’s renowned universities” can work at the district headquarters, investment companies and R&D centers registered in the Shanghai FTZ directly. Xu said the administration will publicize a list to define those universities soon.
Furthermore, the work permit duration for professional technical talent has been extended to three years from one for the convenience of the professionals. Foreign doctors, for instance, can come and work in Pudong without renewing their work permits annually, Xu said.
With the approval of China’s Ministry of Public Security, Shanghai has rolled out 22 visa and green card rules relaxing the relegations for foreigners since July 2015 to boost its talent pool to fit its ambition to become a technology and innovation hub.
In the FTZ alone, 680 foreign nationals have received the Chinese green card under the new policies and 2,052 have been able to apply for a visa-on-arrival by the end of May, according to the exit-entry administration office of the public security bureau at the zone.
Wang Ping, head of the office, said his team has been working closely with companies in the FTZ so that the new policies can benefit more foreigners.
“It takes a lot of publicity for the policies to be fully taken advantage of,” he said. “It happens that foreigners told me that they had no idea of certain new visa rules from which they could benefit.”
Lectures and consultant meetings are regularly held for company representatives from human resources departments, and police are on hand to help. “We take notes of all problems,” Wang said, adding that efforts are then made to resolve them or communicate them with higher-level exit-entry administrations in the policy-making process.
Meanwhile, under the initiative of his team, an informal exit-entry issue consultant body has been set up, joined by about 20 company representatives and economy scholars with an interest in the FTZ. Two meetings have been held since 2015, and another is planned for this year.
Wang, who has been working at exit-entry administrations in the Waigaoqiao area for more than 20 years, has received an award from the Ministry of Public Security for his dedicated work as a police officer.
“We are facing an increasing number of visa and green card requests from the companies in the FTZ with new policies and booming business here,” he said.
In Waigaoqiao alone, there are more than 10,000 companies from about 100 countries and regions.
There were 175,931 foreigners living in Shanghai at the end of 2015, with 2,404 of them green card holders, according to the city’s statistics bureau.