Shanghai has opened a talent hub in its free trade zone aiming to streamline procedures for attracting and retaining foreign professionals.
At the Shanghai Pudong International Talent Hub, located in the heart of Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in the Pudong New Area, visa applicants can obtain work and residence permits by making a single visit. Also unveiled is a one-stop online service platform, where applicants manage to book physical examinations and apply for both permits by filling in one online form.
Previously, foreign professionals had to make at least three trips to government departments - for foreign experts affairs, human resources and public security - to obtain a work visa.
A professional team will also assist family members with the relevant procedures.
Under the initiative, applications can receive approval in five days, said Xiao Lin, a director in charge of administrative approval systems in the Pudong New Area.
"This is achieved by cutting the number of approval phases by 70 percent, shortening the examination time by 60 percent, and halving the types of materials," Xiao said.
Ulrich Jablonka, a manager at the Shangri-La Group, was among the first group of foreign professionals to benefit from the streamlined policies. He said he was most impressed by the "efficiency and enthusiasm" of the government officials.
Wang Fanglei, a human resources director at Shanghai Suoguang Visual Products Co, also touted the convenience of the new system when she helped a Japanese foreign expert apply for credentials.
"Information such as birth date and nationality are automatically recorded when the scanned version of a passport is uploaded. The system can also adjust the photos to fit corresponding requirements in size and precision, saving time and improving accuracy," she said.
To better serve foreign talent, a number of domestic and international human resources industry leaders have also set up offices in the talent hub, including Manpower, Shanghai Foreign Service Group, CDP Group and Liepin.com.
Shanghai has spared no efforts in simplifying procedures to make itself a magnet for top-notch global talent. For instance, top-talent confirmation letters issued by local administrators can make it easier for foreigners to get an R visa, which is issued to high-level personnel and top professionals.
Since last year, holders of this visa are permitted to stay in China for 180 days at a time and make multiple entries for up to 10 years. The previous limit was five years.
Efforts are also made to serve foreign professionals across East China's Yangtze River Delta Region. A regulation stipulates that foreigners employed by entities in the region but who are based in Shanghai's Hongqiao Central Business District are eligible to apply for and renew work visas in the zone.