The city of Suzhou in China’s eastern Jiangsu province has rolled out a range of new policies in the hope of attracting and retaining more foreign talent. State media the Global Times reports that “amid COVID-19 and tense China-US relations”, Suzhou has pledged to make life easier for foreigners wishing to work in the city.
While the local government of the city, best known for its historic canals and gardens, has been arranging charter flights to allow expats currently stuck outside the country to return to work, they have also put in place a number of policies to help both those already in Suzhou and those looking to come obtain their work and residence permits more efficiently.
In a press conference on Friday, Gu Wanyong, deputy director of Suzhou Bureau of Science and Technology, said the city hopes to attract 2,500 high-level foreign talents by the end of next year. He announced other measures, including a credit system that will allow companies employing foreigners in Suzhou special privileges to help them submit the materials needed to process work permits, and a scrapping of the age limit for high-level foreign talents. The age limit will also be raised from 60 to 70 for other professionals.
In a bid to allow those remaining to renew their visas with more ease, high-level expat talents can now apply for both their work and residence permits at one window in the Suzhou Area of the Jiangsu Pilot Free Trade Zone and will receive their documents in around 15 days. Under the previous system, foreigners had to apply in two government agencies and wait around 25 days for processing. According to one German engineer quoted by the Global Times, it only took him an hour to apply for an extension compared to half a day in previous years.
The bureau reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a drop in the number of foreigners in Suzhou, with only 11,800 with work permits remaining at the end of June. As a result, the local foreign affairs office reports that it has brought more than 370 foreign employees from 95 companies back to Suzhou on special chartered flights since the peak of the pandemic.
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Keywords: Suzhou policies to attract foreign talent
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