After staying in China for eight years, Mark Levine may find his luck has improved when applying for a Chinese green card, as the country is considering lowering the application and approval threshold.
Authorities have drafted regulations on permanent residence for foreigners and will consider more flexible and pragmatic application standards, the Organizational Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China said on Monday.
Launched in 2004, China's green card policy provides permanent residency for high-end foreign experts, people with large investments or outstanding contributions to the country. "I started to prepare for the yearlong application, but I'm still not sure that I can get the card," said Levine, a professor of English in Beijing.
One of his friends gave up in the middle of the application process due to difficulties in getting the various needed documents.
"I want to continue to teach, and tell other foreigners about China, which is not considered a large contribution," Levine said.
It took Noyan Rona five years to become an honorary citizen of Shanghai as well as get a green card in 2010. The native of Turkey works for Turkish Garanti Bank in Shanghai.
In addition to loosening the threshold for green cards, he said there should be an improvement in China for foreigners who do get the cards.
"I have a green card, but I cannot enjoy the services as smoothly as Chinese residents," he said, for example when he wants to open a bank account.
"They did not recognise the green card, insisting on a passport," he said, adding that he encountered similar problems in hospitals or at other service agencies.
More than 4,700 foreigners managed to get green cards by 2011, a small number compared to the 600,000 foreign inhabitants then.
"The preference for hiring experts who have been recommended by provincial governments and local institutions facilitates the attraction of foreign talent, and it's a good move for the non-core area to get talent," said Wang Zhenyao, director of Center for China and Globalization.
However, that is far from enough to satisfy the demand for foreign talent, so he suggested that the green card cover a larger group of foreigners who have good education and stable jobs as the skills they possess are needed in China.
"Also, the government should use the green card to attract overseas Chinese back," he said.
China is facing a deficit in the flow of people as more experts are leaving than entering, prompting the relaxation of the policy.
Liu Guofu, a professor of immigration at Beijing Institute of Technology's Law School, agreed with Wang about attracting overseas Chinese with an easier green card policy, saying that it's necessary amid the competition for talent.