• Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ)

Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) (Photo : Getty Images)

Foreigners in Shanghai can now apply for permanent residence in China by simply presenting a letter of recommendation from the FTZ authorities.

The new policy will be implemented in the middle of this month, according to the social security bureau of Shanghai Pudong New Area. The policy will be applied to both the applicants and their spouses and their children under the age of 18.

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The development was made after the 10 rules associated with the entry and exit policies of China released by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). The rules sanction Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone and Shanghai FTZ to recommend foreign executives for permanent residence permits known as Chinese “green cards.”

Foreigners with approved green cards will have the same rights as Chinese locals including rights to invest, purchase houses and schooling.

The new policy aims to support Shanghai’s goal of becoming a global sci-tech innovation hub.

Among those who can apply using the fast track method are renowned award winners or high-level talent scheme finalists, including Nobel laureates, the Chinese government "Friendship Award" and other global, national and municipal awards; people managing national laboratories, engineering laboratories, foreign investment, research and development institutions based in Shanghai FTZ; and top-level talent from innovation and startup enterprises.

The Chinese green card is deemed to be one of the most difficult to get with its complicated application procedure. Since the approval of the policy in 2004, only fewer than 7,000 green cards were issued. The numbers are significantly small compared to some 600,000 foreigners currently residing in China.

According to the MPS, 1,576 foreigners became permanent Chinese residents last year, 63 percent higher than the approved applications in 2015.

Since 2015, China has made a large development in making its residence and entry policies easier for foreigners. According to a ministry statement, these changes have helped bring in more foreign talent and have advanced international exchanges and the economy.

The permanent residence applications from foreigners and their families living in Shanghai has increased six-fold in 2016 compared from 2015. Beijing had a 426 percent increase in the number of such applications last year.

With the new policy, foreigners in Shanghai can obtain permanent residency without difficulty.