context: Though many ministries aim to attract foreign talent (Ministry of Education expanded its ‘1,000 plan’ to the ‘10,000 plan’ in 2017), the visa system has long been a barrier. Government expects that by removing visa roadblocks, more high-level talent will work and live in China.

Foreign experts who qualify for the new R visa can enjoy multiple 180-day stays for up to ten years, according to ‘Implementation measures for foreign talent visa system’ issued by State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) in January 2018. The new visa benefits high-level and urgently needed talent who can aid China’s economic and social development. It focuses on ‘A level’ talent in ‘Standards for classifying foreign nationals working in China(trial)’ issued in 2013, which includes academics from top universities, managers in top international companies, high-tech industry experts and in-demand technicians.

The talent visa (R visa) was first proposed in 2013 in ‘Regulations on the Administration of the Entry and Exit of Foreign Nationals’, but it was never implemented until now. The Measures shorten the talent certification period to five working days, a major simplification. HR departments can now conduct the whole process online, instead of running around to a series of government buildings and jumping through bureaucratic hoops, says Science and Technology Daily.

The Measures specify that

  • R visa applications submitted online will be processed in five working days
    • inviting organisations must provide a ‘Confirmation letter for high level foreign talents’
  • when applying for R visa in consulates in foreign countries, foreigners should provide
    • application form
    • passport and photo
    • printed ‘Confirmation letter for high level foreign talents’
    • other required documents
  • the visa is free and can be approved in two days in urgent cases