Photo from People’s Daily
Shanghai expat Sam Flemming, CEO of an internet consulting firm here in China, recently became the first person we knew to get a green card! While the China “green card” system has been in place since around the turn of the century, the rules for obtaining permanent residency were loosened early last year.
Sam was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about how he got his hands on this nifty little thing and what he expects it to do for him.
When did you first hear about the green card regulations?
I guess I heard about the green card in 2004 or so when it was first announced. I remember thinking it would be nice to have, but figured it was too ‘mafan’ to get.
What were your reasons for deciding to get it?
A friend recently reminded me and my wife about it, so we decided to go for it. To be frank, the biggest reason is to avoid the visa hassle. But also, I have in fact been a resident of China for about 14 years and now have a wife, a son, a car, an apartment, have been contributing to the economy, started a business, created jobs etc. I have made my life in China, so I thought it would be kinda cool to make my residence “official.”
Was there anything you were worried about before getting one? (Tax issues? Stricter regulation? Sorry to sound paranoid – being monitored?)
I double checked taxed implications, and there are none. Being monitored? I have never really felt this-if it happens, then I am sure it has been happening for some time, and anyway, I have nothing to hide. I guess the government must trust me to some degree if they gave it to me. As far as regulation, it’s actually less strict. Things are easier for buying real estate, stocks, insurance, education for my son and many other things (see here)
What were the steps for applying for it ?(Was it a web thing? An introduction from a boss/colleague thing? Did you go to a specific office?)
You need to be married to a Chinese person for at least 5 years or have done something really significantly financially in China (mine is the former). Lots of paper work and document gathering, but nothing too difficult. Just take it all to an office in Pudong, wait at least 6 months (I waited 9).
Now that you have it, do you think anything about living here has changed?
I just got it, so no big change. I do worry a bit if it will really work when I go through security at the airport or when I check into hotels. My visa was cancelled, and now I just flash my green card. I hope everyone gets the memo.