Green card holders, rejoice! China is upgrading the platforms for permanent residence cards, and the changes are finally set to take place this month.
Starting from today, holders of green cards can apply for the new “foreign permanent resident ID cards," which will start being issued nationwide on June 16. The cards will be issued within 20 days from the initial application.
In the meantime, current green card holders can still use their existing cards until the expiration date.
The new cards will have a greater usability for the owners. Based upon the design of the second generation identity card for Chinese citizens, the new versions of foreign permanent resident ID cards will contain chips embedded with foreigners' information, including their names, gender, date of birth, registration agencies and ID numbers, according to the Ministry of Public Service.
What the new permanent residence card will look like
These fancy new cards will be machine-readable, fixing one of the the original card's notorious design flaws. This allows card holders to access a variety of new services including finance, education, transportation, social insurance and telecommunications in a much quicker fashion.
Currently, foreigners holding green cards struggle to receive these services as their green cards are not recognized by many machines. The number of digits on the old green cards differs from that of Chinese IDs, and holders are often still required to present their passports.
Some airlines will also begin accepting thenew cards. China Southern, for example, has said that foreigners can purchase flight tickets using the new card. (They can also use the current cards as long as they're valid).
Green cards are a common practice in the USA, however here in China, they're much more scarce. Data provided from the MPS shows that in 2016, just 1,567 foreigners became permanent residents in China.
China began granting permanent residency in 2004, yet from 2008 to 2014 only 7,356 foreigners — including former NBA star Stephon Marbury — were granted these previous green cards.
Former NBA player and three-time Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champion Stephon Marbury received his green card in 2015.
While the expat community has urged for a relaxation in the process to attain a green card, no changes have yet happened on that front.