By Jiang Junlu and Liu Chang King & Wood Mallesons’ Commercial & Regulatory group

Allan, an American citizen, is the vice president of the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company. He has been travelling on business frequently between China and the United States, and sometimes, on major projects, he has to stay in China for months. Allan would like his wife and his 6-year-old daughter to join him from time to time and so that they could also know more about the charm of oriental culture. 

Recently, Allan heard that China has introduced a more open visa policy for overseas talent in order to attract “Super Brains” from around the world. The application process for a talent visa (also known as “R visa”) will be foreigner friendly. The questions then are: What is this new policy specifically and how will it help in Allan’s work and life?

The Introduction and History of the R Visa

The new rules on R Visa refer to the Implementation Measures regarding Foreign Talent Visa System (the “Measures”), jointly released by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security on November 28, 2017. On January 9, 2018, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs published the Measures on its official website.

Nine provinces or cities, including Beijing, are listed as the first pilot regions that have implemented the Measures. It was reported that on January 2, 2018, the first “Confirmation Letter for High Level Foreign Talent” was issued to Mr. Sajualumootil George, Microsoft’s HR Director in the Asia Pacific area.

In fact, China’s talent visa system can be traced back to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Exit-Entry Administration adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on June 30, 2012. Under this law “introduction of talent” is listed as one type of ordinary visa.

On July 12, 2013, the State Council promulgated the Administrative Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners, which clarifies the type of foreigners that could apply for the “R Visa” ——high-level talented foreigners and urgently needed specialized talents sought-after by China. Nevertheless, specific operational instructions on application conditions and procedures were not published afterwards. The Measures for the first time clarify the scope of individuals to whom R visa can be issued, term of validity and application procedures, etc. at the national level.

Foreigners That Can Apply for an R Visa: Individuals with High-level Skills whose talent is in Demand in the Market

Foreigners that can apply for an R visa are those with high-level talent and urgently needed specialized talents sought-after by China. Individuals who are needed in the development of the Chinese economy and society, and have high-level skills sought by the market, including scientists, leading talents in science and technology field, international entrepreneurs, experts and high-skilled professionals…

Applicants should meet the standard of high-level foreign talent (Category A) mentioned in the Classification Standards for Foreigners Working in China (Trial Implementation). Internationally recognized professional award winners, former senior executives in world Fortune 500 enterprises, associate professors or associate researchers in universities and other extraordinary talents are listed as such high-level talent.

Allan, serving as the vice president of a world Fortune 500 company, has satisfied the conditions to apply for R visa.

Fast Green Channel and Application with “Zero Cost”

According to the Measures, institutions in China that invite foreigners based overseas can file an application for an R visa on their behalf and submit relevant material online. This can be submitted to the Administrations of Foreign Experts Affairs in the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities where the institutions are located.

It will only take 5 working days for the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs to review and confirm the qualification of the foreign talent and issue the Confirmation Letter for High Level Foreign Talent to the institution. In the meantime, relevant information will be provided to the embassies, consulates, or other authorities overseas. Talented persons and their spouses as well as their minor children can request an expedited visa application process and it will take only 2 working days to complete the application.

There is no visa fee or fast track processing fee. In addition, this “Zero Cost” policy applies not only to Allan, but also to his wife and daughter.

Five or Ten Years Validity Period with Multiple Entries

Upon being confirmed by the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs as a high-level talent, a foreigner can apply for an R visa with a five or ten years validity period with multiple entries. His/her spouse and minor children will also be entitled to a visa under the relevant category with the same validity period and multiple entries.

The prolonged validity period of the visa is great news for Allan and his family.

R Visa Holders Who Work in China Are Required to Apply for a Work Permit

Like those who work in China with a Z Visa, foreigners who have obtained an R visa and wish to work in China must apply for a work permit in order to legally work in China. Foreigners are required to submit the application documents online and the Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs will make a final decision within 3 working days. The simple process may save a lot of time for foreign applicants.

Nevertheless, if an R visa holder only plans to come to China for business trips instead of working in China, then it will be unnecessary for him/her to apply for a work permit.

To sum up, the new R visa policy to promote the introduction of foreign talent is open and attractive. There is an irresistible trend in China to invite more and more talented people from all over the world, and China is responding to the trend by making it easier to attract them in the increasingly fierce competition for international talent. We look forward to bringing more “Super Brains” into the China “bowl”!