Everything you need (and want) to know about Chinese green cards

June 13, 2021
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If you own a company or find yourself working in China, then you probably understand the exhausting bureaucracy of Chinese visa renewal. Therefore, you should consider applying for a Chinese Green Card. That will save you time and energy while lengthening your stay in China, and at the same time allow you to concentrate your efforts on starting a business In China.

Who is eligible to receive a green card in China, is it necessary, and what does the process involve?

1. Who can apply for the Chinese green card?

The Chinese “Green Card” is China’s permanent resident ID card, which allows foreigners to have a prolonged residence period compared to work visas.

In February 2020, the Chinese government released an Exposure Draft, containing several updates for the eligibility for applying for the green card. The new draft isn’t considerably different than the old regulations, but it does expand the eligibility prerequisites in order to ease the application process that is already pretty tiresome and strict.

According to the new draft, foreigners applying for permanent residence in China must be in good health, have no criminal record, and meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Investment: Be a direct investor in China and have invested at least $500,000 in western or poor regions of China, $1 million in central China, or $2 million in other areas, and have been investing for at least three consecutive years.
  • Educational and occupational experience: a Ph.D. holder or an alumnus of an honored academic institution with a 3-year work experience in China; Have 3 years experience working in key industries or fields that receive state support; Having worked in China for four/eight years with an annual income that is no less than four/six times than the average local salary respectively.
  • Level of talent and need: International talents who can make a great contribution to China’s economic and social development, or possess a skill especially needed by China.
  • Family relationship: Come to China to be with their family, married for at least five years or dependents of Chinese citizens.
  • Recognized achievements: Foreign business professionals with internationally recognized contributions.

2. What are the benefits of having a Chinese green card?

The main benefit is the length of validity. Foreigners residing or doing business in China without a Chinese green card must renew their residence permit yearly. Additionally, the green card saves time and hassle, allows easy entry and exit into the country and can also be used separately as a legal certificate to stay in Beijing. Moreover, people with a Chinese green card are to work freely and be treated according to all Chinese labor laws. Green Card holders have the same rights and responsibilities as Chinese citizens of the city they live in, regarding areas such as investment, buying housing, and education. The cards can also be used as a form of identification when buying a train ticket or booking a hotel room. However, Chinese Green Cards are not the equivalent of Chinese nationality. Holders of the Chinese Green Card do not have the right to vote, run for election, or serve in the military.

3. How to apply for a Chinese green card?

The provincial Public Security Authority handles the application for permanent residency in China. The applicant or, if the applicant is unmarried and under the age of 18, the parent of the applicant can apply for permanent residency in person or entrust a third party to submit the application on their behalf. In the case of a third-party application for permanent residency, the third party must hold power of attorney for the applicant. Applicants living abroad may file the initial application at the Chinese embassy in their country of origin and submit the full application upon arrival to China. During the application process, the applicant may be required to present various documents such as passports, marriage certificates, tax bills, and foreign investment certificates.

4. How long does it take to approve the application?

The Public Security Authority should decide on the status of the application within a six-month period of receiving the application. If approved, adults will be given a green card valid for 10 years, and minors will be given a green card valid for 5 years.

5. How much does it cost?

The application fee to apply for permanent residence is 1500 RMB (approximately $220) per person. An additional 300 RMB will be charged to obtain the Permanent Residence Permit if the application has been approved – so the total fee is 1800 RMB.

Did you know that the literal translation of Renminbi (RMB) is people’s currency? Learn more about Chinese money and financial services in China.

If the applicants already have a permanent resident permit but must renew, amend the information, or update the permit, then the holder must reapply for a new permit at a cost of 300 Yuan. In case of loss or damage, the permit holder must pay a replacement fee of 600 Yuan.

PTL Group provides international companies with comprehensive HR Services in China throughout the employee life cycle process. As part of our service, we will provide you with all the necessary HR operations to manage your staff needs, including work permit applications.

Click here for more information about Recruitment & HR Services in China.

Please notice: due to the Corona crisis, many of the processes described in this article are currently on hold, therefore cannot be carried out.


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