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Life becomes easier for imported top talent


A French academic has become the first foreigner to receive the new unified work permit.

Joaquim Nassar, Dean of SJTU-ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, arrived in the city last November.

He is the first to benefit after the city began a pilot program to issue a unified work permit for expatriates that came into operation this month.

When Nassar started his work at the university, he, like other foreigners regarded as top talent, needed to apply for a foreign expert certificate, which functioned as foreign expert work permit under the previous rules. For expatriate ordinary workers then, they needed to apply for regular work permit.

China launched a pilot scheme in Shanghai and some other provinces and cities on Tuesday to streamline the two types of permits.

Nassar’s university had submitted an application for the new type of permit for him.

The whole process took just three days. He was identified as a top talent and his application was quickly processed.

The permit contains Nassar’s photograph, name, nationality, permit number, validity period and talent category.

It is issued in paper form as the program is still on trial from this month to March. From next April, the new permit will be issued as a card with a radio frequency identification chip, making it easier to carry and to prevent it being counterfeited, said Zhao Zhuping, director of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

“I really appreciate that the procedure has been very smooth and very efficient, and the set of documents required is very reasonable,” said Nassar after receiving the new permit.

“The Chinese administration is very aware that to attract world-class talent, you need to be attractive at all the steps of the procedure and make it very easy for foreigners,” he added.

According to the new regulation, the documents required are an application form, employment contract, job-related qualifications, health examination report, highest education certificate, proof of no criminal record and a valid visa.

Seven other materials that until now had been required, such as a resume, are no longer necessary. However, proof of no criminal record and highest education background, have been added.

Along with the new permit reform, a unified online system has also been launched for local employers and foreign employees to submit digital versions of their documents, which will be shared by all departments involved in the processing system, to reduce repetition of material submission as well as to speed up the process and improve administration efficiency.

Foreigners can download the notification letters for work permits and visas before coming to China, rather than having to wait for their employers to send them to their home countries.

This is expected to drastically cut processing times. Once having arrived in China, applicants must apply for the official work permits within 15 days.

The pilot scheme currently is underway in Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin as well as Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The practice will be applied nationwide from April.