• A foreigner leads a cow during the celebration of Qixi Festival in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, Aug. 19, 2015.

A foreigner leads a cow during the celebration of Qixi Festival in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province, Aug. 19, 2015. (Photo : Xinhua)

Thanks to loosened visa policies implemented by authorities to draw in more foreign talent, 12 times more expats have obtained permanent residence cards in Shanghai in the past five months than during the same period in 2014.

Since July 1, the Exit-Entry Administration department of Shanghai's Public Security Bureau has issued 1,708 entry visas and residence permits for foreigners to work and live in Shanghai, of which were permanent residence permits or "green cards," the Beijing-based China Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

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"Those new entry-exit policies issued earlier this year have successfully attracted and retained more high-talent foreign professionals to support the transformation of the city to be a scientific and technological innovation center," Bai Shaokang, Shanghai's deputy mayor and director of public security, said at a news conference to discuss the policies on Monday

Shanghai has been initiating policies to attract skilled foreigners since early this year as part of the city's efforts to become a global hub for technological innovation. Several of those policies, including the provision of permanent residence permits for high-level overseas passport holders and subsidies to tech professionals, were launched in July.

"The beneficial policies will enable us to attract more young talented applicants with innovative ideas and experienced senior professionals from overseas," said Jan Anne Schelling, vice president of human resources at DSM China, a Dutch material science company.

Schelling said, during his eight-year stay in Shanghai, that more foreigners have been coming over to find jobs in local companies on their own, while previously many of them were assigned by their employers to work at branches in China.

"Now the applicants focus more on what they can learn from the job with more potential opportunities, when they used to put salary as the top priority," said Schelling.

The municipal government has also started to issue residence permits for foreign housekeepers hired by high-level expats living and working in Shanghai, along with 10 additional service points to help them register and prepare for work in the city.

A 15-day visa-free entry policy has also been proposed to allow foreign tourists passing by Shanghai on cruises to stop by and visit the city.