Expats in China undecided about Chinese green card

Expats in China undecided about Chinese green card

Expats in China undecided about Chinese green card

Almost a year ago, the Chinese authorities implemented their version of the USA’s Green Card, aimed at recruiting more overseas talent.

Over the past few years, China’s popularity as an expat hub has soared, with entrepreneurs and expats looking to garner funds for start-ups flocking to the country’s massive cities. Seeing a chance to grab and encourage foreign talent, the Chinese government launched a ‘green card’ permanent residence permit in the hope it would make expats’ lives more convenient as well as more productive. Those who’ve made it to China and are now hoping to make it in China are eager to fit in both culturally and informally, but a good few are having second thoughts about the green card.

American expat Charlotte Edwards has been in China for 12 years and is now married to a Chinese national and living in Cangzhou. The couple have two children, and Charlotte is now eligible for a green card, should she so wish., but has decided to pass because she wants to have more children. The infamous Chinese law restricting families to two children doesn’t apply to her as an expat, but would apply should she take up permanent residency via the green card.

British expat Eric (a pseudonym) is a soon-to-be retired professor at a Chinese university and once won an ‘outstanding foreign expert’ award from the Chinese government. He’s one of the few high-level experts China is desperate to keep hold of, but he’s not rushing to get his green card. He told the media he’s already holding a 10-year multiple entry work visa, covering the same period as would the green card, and is looking to retire in the future thus making the green card irrelevant. He says he’s gained recognition for his colleagues, honour from the government and smiles from children, adding that’s all he needs.

However, expats looking for a permanent place to call home are more than happy with the green card scheme. Many have married Chinese women, had children and don’t want to ever leave. For them, it’s the chance of a lifetime, and unexpected given China’s reputation as a closed, communist state. Expats with the card can enjoy most rights available to Chinese nationals such as changing jobs without visa worries, opening bank accounts, buying property, using China’s medical services and enrolling their children in Chinese public schools. Some expats even see the card as deepening the emotional bond they feel with China and as a recognition of their worth to the country.

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