Opportunities for Innovators Abroad to Apply for the Chinese Start-up Visas

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Entrepreneurship and Innovation is one of the most focused concepts in China as they grow. The Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau in May 2018 had introduced the ‘Start-Up visa’, officially known as the new ‘private affairs’ category of residency permit (entrepreneur). This would allow innovators and entrepreneurs from overseas to live in China during the course of their entrepreneurship.

Whereas a business visa allows the holder to stay in China no longer than six months, the new entrepreneur startup visa is valid for one year with multiple entries and may be extended for up to two years.

To qualify for the Startup visa applicants should:

  • Be an international student who is currently enrolled in one of Shanghai’s institutes of higher learning and made clear their intention to engage in part-time entrepreneurship in “mass entrepreneurship and innovation-accredited” science and technology parks, incubators, and designated areas such as Yangpu District and Changning District.


  • Be a foreign graduate from leading Chinese universities or from world-renowned universities overseas who completed their degree no more than two years before applying. They should also preferably have made “outstanding” achievements in entrepreneurship and innovation.


The benefits of the China Startup visa:

  • Many young individuals will have the opportunity to access innovation and entrepreneurship in China without needing a full-time job to sponsor their residence permit
  • It allows them to engage in the preliminary work related to starting a business (business development, recruitment, finding an office, market research, etc.) for some time before they need to formally establish their company in China.
  • The startup visa, furthermore, provides a path to permanent residence status in China. Current regulations stipulate that individuals who have worked in the country for more than three years and who file documents demonstrating their contribution to the local economy (such as certificates of capital injections, tax slips, and university diplomas) are eligible to apply for permanent residence in the country.


Other major municipalities in China have introduced similar schemes – Chengdu was among the first – and, if the past practices of the Chinese government are anything to go by – once startup visas prove their merit, we expect authorities to extend the programme nationwide.

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