China is a growing destination for expats but it can be a challenging environment with red tape often an issue cited by those who have moved there to work.

The Chinese Government has now confirmed that it will make is simpler to obtain a visa and also launched a new long term multi-entry visa with the aim of attracting top talent to China.

China Business

The new visas will be valid for between five and 10 years and are aimed at attracting specific skills, according to a joint statement from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) and the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Public Security.

To qualify applicants will need to have qualifications and expertise recognised by SAFEA with scientists, technological leaders and multinational entrepreneurs top of the list of the skills China needs.

Successful applicants will be able to stay in China for up to 180 days at a time and will be allowed multiple entry and exits. Spouses and children will benefit from the same visa conditions.

The statement also said that the application process for these visas will be ‘drastically’ simplified and have zero administrative charges and decisions will be given within days rather than the more normal months.

Streamlined online applications are now open and decisions are expected to be given within five days of the application being received and the visa issues within two days of that, according to Gao Xiang, director of the Foreign Experts Affairs department.

Uploaded information from applicants will be shared by the three ministries involved in the application process and SAFEA director Zhang Jianguo said he envisages that up to 50,000 could be granted visas to work in China in this new visa stream.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Chinese think tank, the Centre for China and Globalisation, said that the new visa means that China is open to attracting top skills from around the world. He described it as a move in the right direction in terms of creating the right conditions for the brightest and the best to live and work in China.

But for other foreign workers in China the rules are getting tougher. From the end of February regular work permit holders will need to submit a renewal application 30 days before their current permit expires.

SAFEA is urging permit holders to make sure they do not leave it to the last minute as those who do so just a few days before it expires may find themselves unable to work. A spokesman said that the best time to submit a renewal is two to three months before the expiry date.

There will be no need to submit a criminal record check or documentation proving you've worked overseas if you're renewing a work permit, although other requirements from the first time applications are still the same.