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CHINA - Talent Visa Rules and Benefits Clarified

Effective 1 January 2018, new regulations for the "R visa" for high-level talent allow multiple stays in China of up to 180 days at a time, with a validity of up to ten years, a streamlined online application system and reduced processing times.

Who Qualifies?

To obtain an R visa, applicants must qualify as Category A under the classification standards for foreigners working in China. This can be based on either:

  • the qualifications of their Chinese employer; or
  • their own qualifications and experience; or
  • their salary; or
  • a score of at least 85 points under the new scoring system.


  • The R visa allows longer stays (180 days) than the usual M visa for business (90 days), is valid for between five and ten years with multiple entries and has no associated visa processing fees.
  • The same visa privileges will be granted to the qualifying applicant's spouse and children.
  • Once the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) has issued a Confirmation Letter for High Level Foreign Talents, the R visa may be obtained at a Chinese consulate abroad. Both pre-approval and visa issuance steps are expected to be quicker than for an M (business) or Z (work) visa.
  • R visa holders who wish to work in China can obtain a work permit through a simplified and expedited process, by submitting documents online. A work-related residence permit is required as well.


The 2013 "Administrative Regulation on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners" introduced the R visa, or talent visa, for highly skilled and urgently needed foreign talents. Until now, however, there has been no nationally-consistent implementation of the R visa.

Although applicable nationally, the Implementation Measures for Foreign Talent Visa System are being trialled in nine provinces or cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Action Items

  • Potential applicants are advised to consult an immigration specialist for further details of this new process for highly-qualified talent.

This alert was prepared with information provided by Shanghai Foreign Service Group, Asia Pacific Access and Lehman, Lee & Xu.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.