China Releases New Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card

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China introduced permanent residency permits in 2004, but the initial batch of permits was notably challenging to obtain. According to the Ministry of Public Security, just over 7,300 of these permits were issued in the decade following their introduction. In a recent development, the National Immigration Administration of China (NIA) held a press conference in Beijing on September 15. During this event, they revealed that a new edition of the Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card for the People’s Republic of China is set to be officially launched and put into effect starting from December 1, 2023.

But do not worry,  the existing version remains valid until its expiration date. Holders have the option to apply for a new ID card if it aligns with their individual preferences and requirements.

As the National Immigration Administration (NIA), the introduction of the new Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card is a specific measure aimed at supporting the country’s commitment to high-level openness and enhancing the utilization of information technology in managing and assisting foreign individuals. This initiative is intended to elevate the quality of immigration administration and services, offering improved support for overseas talents engaged in work, research, and residence in China. It is aligned with the strategy of bolstering the nation through human resource development. Collaborating with relevant departments, the NIA is expediting the integration with information systems and infrastructure in various sectors, expanding the card’s applications, and prioritizing user satisfaction.

permanent resident

Why a new permanent resident ID card?

The purpose of the new Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card in China is to provide a legal identity document for foreign individuals who have been granted permanent residency in the People’s Republic of China. This card serves as official proof of their status as permanent residents, granting them various rights and privileges, such as the ability to reside and work in China without the need for a visa, access to certain social services, and more.

According to government authorities, the primary aim of introducing the new identity card is to simplify the lives of foreign residents in China and foster a greater sense of belonging within their new community. The enhanced functionality of the card is also intended to provide more convenience to its holders.

What are the main enhancements of this new permanent resident ID card?

So, wondering how this new ID card will be even more convenient.

Basically, the new card design and technological upgrades primarily concentrate on three key aspects:

  1. First of all, the new ID card incorporates chip storage technology that’s been fine-tuned to make storing card information even better. This not only boosts personal data protection but also ramps up security using advanced anti-counterfeiting tech.
  2. In China, the card number has been extended from 15 to 18 digits. This extended number format incorporates foreigner identification codes, nationality codes, and issuance area codes, providing each individual with an exclusive and lifelong identifier.
  3. They’ve enhanced the design by incorporating a new pattern inspired by the Great Wall and including elements symbolizing the country’s five stars. This redesign serves as a powerful means to effectively convey China’s distinctive image and underlying ideology to the world, reflecting the nation’s rich heritage and values.

Apart from these three main aspects, maybe the most important change is that the introduction of the new card brings a significant convenience factor to foreign workers in China.  What are these convenience factors? Unlike visas, the new cards eliminate the time restrictions associated with entering and leaving the country. Moreover, these cards serve as valid forms of identification, expanding their utility beyond the previous limitations. 

Foreign workers can now utilize these cards for various financial, legal, and practical transactions that were not possible before.  This means with this ID card, foreigners will not have to show their passports to accommodation registration, pay for train, ship, or airline tickets, and other occasions that require personal identification. This expanded functionality greatly simplifies the daily lives of foreigners, making it easier for them to manage their tasks and activities with enhanced ease and efficiency, marking a notable improvement from the previous status. 

What Does the New Design Offer?

While retaining the fundamental design elements of the existing version, the new card introduces captivating five-star motifs, which symbolize the national logo, seamlessly integrating them into the overall aesthetics. Additionally, the card’s layout has been thoughtfully optimized to ensure a visually pleasing and coherent appearance.

Moreover, the new ID card incorporates state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting technology, providing an extra layer of security and authenticity verification. These enhancements have been made to the information storage capacity, facilitating the card’s utility for various applications. The upgraded access to application management services enhances the overall user experience, making the card even more versatile and user-friendly. These improvements collectively signify a significant leap in card design and functionality. 

Implementation in Shanghai

Shanghai is indeed an international city. It is one of China’s most cosmopolitan and globally connected cities. Shanghai’s international status is characterized by its role as a major economic and financial hub, its openness to foreign investments, its diverse population, and its rich cultural exchanges with the rest of the world. 

Shanghai took the lead in China by introducing innovative measures associated with the new identity cards. These policies have set a precedent that several other cities across the country have followed, aligning with the changes initiated in Shanghai. The implementation of these measures commenced in 2015 and has yielded notable success in drawing foreign workers to the region. Notably, there was a remarkable surge in permanent resident applications, witnessing a six-fold increase from 2015 to 2016.

With the new identity card in hand, individuals can directly request a Shanghai Overseas Talent Residence Permit. This permit opens up several opportunities, including the ability to secure residential permits, establish businesses, seek employment with administrative bodies, enroll children in public education, and obtain a local driver’s license within the region.

Eligibility Criteria for Shanghai Permanent Residency

Shanghai has introduced a significant alteration by widening the criteria for eligibility. Presently, foreigners can meet the requirements for permanent residency in Shanghai if they:

1. To qualify, you need to be a highly skilled foreign expert.

2. You should have made significant contributions to China.

3. You must have invested a substantial amount of at least USD $500,000 directly in China.

4. If you’re married to a Chinese citizen or someone who’s lived in China for five years and been married for five years, you’re eligible.

5. If you’re over 60, have family in China, have no close family in other countries, and have lived in China for five years, you meet the requirements.

6. If you’re a highly skilled foreign worker who’s been in Shanghai for three years and got the government’s approval, you’re eligible.

7. If you’ve worked for a qualified employer for four years in a specific field, you qualify.

8. If you’ve worked in Shanghai for four years, earn an annual income of 600,000 RMB, and pay over 120,000 RMB in income tax each year, you’re eligible.

residence permit

Key Takeaways

One of the most significant advantages of the new foreign permanent resident ID card is the removal of time restrictions on entering and leaving China, making it a more flexible and versatile option compared to traditional visas. Moreover, it serves as a valid form of identification for various transactions, eliminating the need to carry a passport in many situations. 

Shanghai, a prominent international city in China, played a pioneering role in implementing these changes. These new measures in Shanghai have broadened eligibility criteria, making it easier for foreign individuals to qualify for permanent residency. To be eligible, one can be a highly skilled foreign expert, a contributor to China, an investor, a spouse of a Chinese citizen or long-term resident, an individual over 60 with family in China, a foreign talent endorsed by the government, a skilled foreign worker, or an employee of a qualified employer meeting specific criteria.

In summary, China’s new foreign permanent ID Card signifies a significant leap in providing foreign residents with convenience, security, and a greater sense of belonging. Its introduction aligns with China’s commitment to openness and human resource development, with Shanghai leading the way in implementing these transformative changes.

Good news! When the new version of the permanent resident card arrives, you won’t need to bid farewell to the old one right away. The current card will still be your trusted companion, working its magic within its validity period. And the best part? You can easily upgrade to the new version whenever your residence card expires!