‘Startup visa’ lures ex­pats to Shang­hai

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By XING YI in Shang­hai xingyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Marc Olivier, a 39-year-old French man, had worked in an ad­ver­tis­ing agency in Shang­hai for a decade be­fore de­cid­ing to start his own business ear­lier this year.

But then came the ques­tion many ex­pats might have en­coun­tered: How would he ob­tain le­gal sta­tus — a visa al­low­ing him to stay in China while self-em­ployed — af­ter quit­ting his job?

Af­ter con­sult­ing with an in­cu­ba­tor based in Shang­hai’s Hongqiao area, Olivier found the an­swer to the ques­tion — an “en­trepreneur­ship visa”, which he soon ap­plied for and ob­tained in Au­gust.

The in­cu­ba­tor, K-Tech Hongqiao In­ter­na­tional In­cu­ba­tion Cen­ter in Shang­hai, pro­vides work­ing space, fi­nance op­tions, com­pany regis­tra­tion and, more im­por­tant for Olivier, visa ser­vice.

Zhu Peiyi, the manag­ing part­ner of the cen­ter, said that af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the Shang­hai Exit-En­try Ad­min­is­tra­tion Bureau, the cen­ter’s staff helped Olivier ap­ply for the spe­cial res­i­dence per­mit for en­trepreneurs.

“That’s what peo­ple now call the ‘en­trepreneur­ship visa’ or ‘business startup visa’, ” Zhu said, adding that there are 20 startup com­pa­nies work­ing in the cen­ter, and one-third of them are for­eign teams.

“Many for­eign busi­ness­men just didn’t know that they were qual­i­fied for it, and af­ter the news is out, many con­sulates have con­tacted us for more de­tails,” she added.

Since 2015, Shang­hai has launched 25 pi­lot visa poli­cies to stream­line and sim­plify the for­eigner visa ap­pli­ca­tion process and to di­ver­sify the visa types to bet­ter fit the de­mand, said Cai Baodi, chief of the for­eigner visa man­age­ment di­vi­sion at the Exit-En­try Ad­min­is­tra­tion Bureau.

Among the 25 pi­lot visa poli­cies, four are di­rectly linked to for­eign­ers open­ing busi­nesses in the city. These in­clude is­su­ing visas that al­low cur­rent in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in Chi­nese colleges to start busi­nesses in the Shang­hai Free Trade Zone and the Zhangjiang Na­tional In­no­va­tion Demon­stra­tion Zone, and al­low for­eign tech­no­log­i­cal spe­cial­ists or col­lege pro­fes­sors to com­mer­cial­ize their re­search in those ar­eas.

Chi­nese-Amer­i­can Zhang Zheng is a pro­fes­sor of com­puter science at New York Univer­sity Shang­hai. Be­fore join­ing the univer­sity’s Shang­hai cam­pus, he was the founder of the Sys­tem Re­search Group of Mi­crosoft Re­search Asia, where he served as prin­ci­pal re­searcher and re­search area manager.

Since his ex­per­tise was needed by Ama­zon’s Shang­hai branch, Zhang was ap­proached by the com­pany to put the re­search into fu­ture prod­ucts.

“Be­fore, our visa pol­icy didn’t al­low for­eign­ers to hold two jobs, but ... Shang­hai launched a tal­ent visa pro­gram in May that made it pos­si­ble,” said Cai, from the Shang­hai Exit-En­try Ad­min­is­tra­tion Bureau.

Zhang got his new work per­mit on Sept 4, which al­lows him to work at both NYU Shang­hai and Ama­zon.

Be­sides cur­rent stu­dents and pro­fes­sors, grad­u­ates with a de­gree from the world’s top 300 universities ranked by the Cen­ter for World-Class Universities at Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity can get the “en­trepreneur­ship visa” within two years of grad­u­a­tion to live and work in Shang­hai.

For­eign en­trepreneurs with a business plan and doc­u­ments prov­ing their in­vest­ment and source of in­come can also ap­ply.

Cai said his depart­ment has is­sued 95 such en­trepreneur­ship visas in the past three years.

“We hope this kind of res­i­dence per­mit will en­cour­age tal­ent and en­trepreneurs to come to the city with their in­no­va­tive ideas and plans,” Cai said.

Com­pared with a business visa, which al­lows the holder to stay in China no longer than six months, the per­mit for en­trepreneurs is valid for one year with mul­ti­ple en­tries and can be ex­tended to a max­i­mum of two years.

“We will soon open a cen­ter for en­try-exit and im­mi­gra­tion af­fairs in Zhangjiang, pro­vid­ing one-stop ser­vices, from lan­guage train­ing and job hunt­ing to le­gal con­sul­ta­tion,” Cai said. “It’s go­ing to be the first of its kind in the coun­try.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.