Good news for some foreigners: China is now allowing 'top overseas talent' to stay in the country for a few months without having to apply for a work permit. And they'll be put on a fast-track visa application process once they decide to stay.
According to China Daily, the new regulation allows certain foreign experts to spend time "getting to know the country" before they start their work permit application. Under new rules for the R visa (otherwise known as the "China Talent Visa") issued on January 1, they'd be allowed to stay in the country for up to 180 days (six months) at a time on a multiple entry visa that will be valid for five to ten years. Their spouses and children would also be eligible.
There's a catch, though. Those qualified to apply include "top scientists, international entrepreneurs and other talent with specific high-level skills that are in need in the development of the country's economy and society" (AKA the 'Category A' types; read more about the different levels here).
Qualified foreign experts will also benefit from a new streamlined visa application which could reduce the (normally months-long) issuing process to just a few days.
After uploading information through a free online portal, eligible expats will have their application vetted by three different departments (the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security) within five days. The process normally takes 10 days.
Once the departments have deemed the candidate as worthy of 'top talent' certification, a visa will be issued within two days.
Currently there isn't much information available on how to actually apply for the R visa online, but we'd recommend contacting your employer or visa sponsor for further inquiries.
Meanwhile, regular work permit holders will soon be required to renew on a much stricter deadline. Effective February 28, the renewal applications must be submitted 30 days in advance of the expiry date.