By Peregrine

Effective 1 January 2018, new regulations for the “R Visa” for high-level talent allow multiple stays in China of up to 180 days at a time, with a validity of up to ten years, a streamlined online application system and reduced processing times.

Who qualifies?

To obtain an R visa, applicants must qualify as Category A under the classification standards for foreigners working in China. This can be based on either:

  • the qualifications of their Chinese employer; or
  • their own qualifications and experience; or
  • their salary; or
  • a score of at least 85 points under the new scoring system.


  • The R visa allows longer stays (180 days) than the usual M visa for business (90 days), is valid for between five and ten years with multiple entries and has no associated visa processing fees.
  • The same visa privileges will be granted to the qualifying applicant’s spouse and children.
  • Once the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) has issued a Confirmation Letter for High Level Foreign Talents, the R visa may be obtained at a Chinese consulate abroad. Both pre-approval and visa issuance steps are expected to be quicker than for an M (business) or Z (work) visa.
  • R visa holders who wish to work in China can obtain a work permit through a simplified and expedited process, by submitting documents online. A work-related residence permit is required as well.


The 2013 “Administrative Regulation on the Entry and Exit of Foreigners” introduced the R visa, or talent visa, for highly skilled and urgently needed foreign talents. Until now, however, there has been no nationally-consistent implementation of the R visa.

Although applicable nationally, the Implementation Measures for Foreign Talent Visa System are being trialled in nine provinces or cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Action Items

  • Potential applicants are advised to consult an immigration specialist for further details of this new process for highly-qualified talent.