While Chinese “green cards” used to be incredibly hard to come by, it seems that they are handing them out to just about anybody nowadays, relatively speaking at least.
In 2016, 1,576 foreigners became new permanent residents of China. That’s up 163% from the previous year, according to China’s Ministry of Public Security.
These lucky laowai join an elite club. While hundreds of thousands of foreigners currently live in China, less than 8,000 of them have been granted a permanent residence permit since the current system was launched back in 2004. These “green cards” have gone to investors, executives, tech experts and individuals who have made “outstanding contributions” to China.
However, last year, China began introducing new measures in an effort to attract more high-level global talent to the country, relaxing residence and entry policies, resulting in a six-fold increase in the number of applications for permanent resident status.
Easily the most famous recent recipient of a Chinese “green card” was Beijing Ducks star Stephon Marbury, the first foreign celebrity to ever receive a Chinese permanent residence permit. Marbury and other Chinese “green card” holders receive the same rights as Chinese citizens in areas such as investment, housing purchases and schooling.
To go along with this new era of “openness,” China announced last month that international graduates with master’s degrees from Chinese universities or from “well-known” foreign universities are now eligible for a Z visa immediately after graduation, waiving the previous requirement of two years of postgraduate work experience.
At the same time, China has also been cracking down on less-skilled laowai, introducing a ranking system judging expats based on their “talent” and banning non-native English teachers from teaching in some regions.
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