Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park has received approval from the Ministry of Public Security for a visa pilot program to take effect March 1. The policy is meant to lure foreign talent to help to continue to develop Zhonguancun as a national center for science and technology innovation. Zhongguancun covers 488 square kilometers and has more than 20,000 companies.
Highlights of the policy reportedly include:
1. The public security bureau (PSB) exit and entry authorities will set up a service desk in Zhongguancun.
2. Foreign students at higher-education institutions in Beijing will be allowed to have part-time jobs and start their own businesses in Zhongguancun. In particular, foreign students at Beijing universities may, with the university’s agreement and recommendation letter, apply to the PSB exit and entry authorities to add to their residence permits for study an “innovation” annotation to concurrently carry out innovative activities.
3. Students from overseas universities will be allowed to have short-term internships in Zhongguancun. In particular, Zhongguancun companies that invite foreign higher education students to participate in practical training may file with Beijing public security bureau exit and entry authorities to enable such students to apply with port visa authorities for short-term private affairs visas (annotated “practical training”) in order to enter the country to carry out practical training activities.
4. The public security bureau will streamline the process for foreigners employed by startup companies in Zhongguancun to get visas issued by ports of entry and long-term residence permits.
5. The Ministry of Pubic Security will provide easier access to permanent residency for foreigners with doctoral degrees. Overseas Chinese with a foreign doctoral degree will be eligible for permanent residence. Foreigners who have worked for companies in Zhongguancun for four years, with at least a six-month stay each year, will also be eligible.
6. Beijing will apply to the State Council for authorization for visitors from certain countries to be allowed 144-hour, visa-free stays in Beijing.
This pilot program comes on the heels of a Shanghai Technology Innovation Center pilot program approved in July 2015.
Our law firm will continue to monitor and report on these developments.