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China 101

Five things you should know about China’s ‘green cards’

The government has revamped the permanent residency card scheme to help lure more skilled staff from overseas to the mainland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 11:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 10:51pm

Who can apply for one?

Skilled foreigners in high-level positions in government departments or laboratories involved in “key national projects” in China can apply for permanent residency. They must have worked in the post for four years and have a tax record covering at least three years

Foreigners investing at least US$500,000 in western China or poorer regions, US$1 million in central China or US$2 million in other areas for at least three consecutive years are also qualified to apply for Chinese green cards.

People who have made a significant contribution to China are eligible for the scheme. People married to Chinese citizens for five years can also apply.

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Children of successful applicants or their relatives aged over 60 can apply to join them on the mainland.

Under a directive released last year by the State Council, foreigners working in a greater range of fields, including national laboratories, engineering research centres, technology centres of state-accredited hi-tech companies and foreign-funded research and development centres are now eligible for permanent residency, too.

What are the benefits of having a Chinese green card?

One major benefit is holders can stay in China without having to renew their visa every year.

Green card holders receive the same rights as Chinese citizens in areas such as investment, buying housing and education. The cards can be also used as a form of identification when buying a train ticket or booking a hotel room.

However, many foreigners have previously complained that the cards are of limited use and that many people do not accept them as ID in China.

Xavier Chen, the president of the energy firm Statoil in China, complained at a foreign talent summit in Beijing last year that he could not open bank account in China or purchase a train ticket with his Chinese green card, the China Youth Daily reported.

How do you apply for one?

Qualified applicants submit applications to the public security authorities in China.

Documents, including passports, marriage certificates, employment letters, tax bills and foreign investment certificates can be required during the application process.

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Applicants living abroad can file an initial application to Chinese embassies and submit a full application to the public security authorities after arriving in China.

Usually it takes six months to review an application. However, local governments are now trying to speed up the process. For example, in Shanghai, it can take only 90 days to issue a green card.

How long is the card valid?

China issues two types of green cards to foreigners, valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors.

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Holders can apply to renew their green cards and there is no need to submit extra documentation if their status remains the same.

Can a Chinese green card be revoked?

The public security authorities have the right to revoke the permanent residency of any foreigner who endangers Chinese national security or is expelled from China by Chinese courts. People who falsify documents to apply for a card or are absent from China over eight months a year, or four out of five years, could also face having their green cards revoked.