The State Council has proposed setting up a state immigration administration body and submitted the plan to the national legislative session for deliberation on Tuesday.
According to State Councilor Wang Yong who announced the document, the new administration would integrate exit and entry management as well as border control. The proposed state immigration administration would be under the country’s Ministry of Public Security and responsible for coordinating, formulating and implementing immigration policies.
Expats say China’s immigration policies have been pretty complex, requiring foreigners to coordinate with several different offices as well as having a work permit that needs to be renewed often.
“In the history of me living here, I have had times where every year I had to renew my work permit, I’ve had times where (sic) every three years. What happens is that your passport is taken, and you will not have your passport for three to four weeks or more, which means you cannot travel internationally,” said Tom van Dillen, who has been living in China for 17 years.
Van Dillen also runs Greenkern, a management consulting firm in downtown Beijing. A quarter of his staff is foreign nationals. And Van Dillen said that any efforts to make the immigration process transparent such as setting up a new unified administration would be appreciated.
A research fellow from the Center of China and Globalization (CCG), Harvey Dzodin, said that China now wants to have more skilled foreign professionals and there have been reforms to pave the way.
“One of the things announced recently at the beginning of the year was an online application for visa that is coordinated with three relevant agencies. There is also no application fee. Of course the requirements are high for it because we would like talented individuals who can make contributions to the Chinese society,” said Dzodin.
According to CCG, the number of foreign nationals in China has been increasing, reaching over half a million in 2010. However, a recent UN report shows that the percentage of foreigners in China is still small at less than one tenth of a percent.