The near-mythic Chinese permanent resident (“green”) card remains a source of fascination. Do they really exist? Who gets one? How does one obtain this elusive document?
Look no further for insight, but be warned: your chances of being the proud owner of a Chinese green card are slim to none. While there have been efforts to streamline the green card process in recent years, by 2016 only 10,000 foreigners had received such a document following its introduction in 2004. Green cards are primarily meant to encourage long term residence from highly skilled applicants who are already Chinese residents and taxpayers (a notable example being basketball star Stephon Marbury for his work with the Beijing Ducks).
There are six key categories of applicants eligible for a Chinese green card, including:
- Investors: Those who have invested in business in China, have operated uninterrupted and paid taxes for three successive years.
- Professionals: Any person with a senior professional title (including professor, manager, director, etc.) for at least four years, who has lived in China for three cumulative years and has paid taxes during that period.
- Outstanding individuals: those who have made a significant and needed contribution
- Spouses: A spouse of either a Chinese citizen or a foreigner with a green card. Spouses must be married and have resided in China for at least five years, with at least nine months of residence in China. In addition to relational and residency requirements, spouses must have a stable income and address.
- Dependents: Those under the age of 18 with a parent or parents with a green card.
- Seniors: Those aged 60 or above who have resided in China for at least five successive years (with at least nine months of residence in China per year) and have a stable income and address.
Should you qualify for any of the above categories, step two requires preparing the appropriate documents. When submitting an application, the following documents are required:
- A copy of your passport
- Health certificate
- Criminal record check, verifying you haven’t been convicted of any crimes in China
- Four color passport photos with a white background
- Additional materials (for the family reunion green card)
The family green card requires additional documentation and is provided to spouses, minors, and dependents. For this group, applicants must submit their spouse, parent, or relative’s permanent residence certificate along with proof of relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate, or proof of kindship as the case may be), as well as evidence of stable housing and income when relevant.
If you are one of the lucky few to successfully receive a green card, you aren’t out of the woods yet. The government can cancel a green card at any time if the holder has overstayed their visa for less than three months in one year or less than a year in a five-year period. Threatening national security, harming public good, or criminal charges are all additional grounds for revoking a green card and may carry the additional penalty of deportation.
It may not be the easiest thing to get, but if you’re intent in staying in China for the long haul, applying for the Chinese Green Card may be the best option for you. As with all administration tasks, cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and keep your fingers crossed.