July 23, 2024

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China’s Permanent Residence Application for Guangdong: An Explainer

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In this article, we explain China’s permanent residence application process for Guangdong. This is a part of a series of articles on China Briefing explaining Chinese Green Card policies for first-tier cities. You are welcome to read our articles for information on the permanent residence application for Beijing and Shanghai.

Due to the protracted COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing travel bans, to avoid the cumbersome visa application procedures, many expatriates in China have begun to assess the pros and cons of obtaining a Foreigner Permanent Residence Identity Card, also known as the Chinese Green Card.

China Foreigner Permanent Residence ID Card

In theory, foreigners granted permanent residence status enjoy almost the same rights and bear the same obligations as Chinese citizens. The card will facilitate their travel to and from China as well as employment, children’s education, property purchase, healthcare, social security, travel and accommodation, etc. in China (for detailed pros and cons, you can refer to our Shanghai article here).

While the card is hard to obtain, with the country’s opening-up and desire for foreign talents, China has been rolling out policies to lower the threshold for permanent residency application (including the Opinions on Strengthening the Administration of Permanent Residence Service for Foreigners released in 2016 and the Twelve Immigration and Entry-Exit Facilitation Measures released in 2019).

On February 27, 2020, China unveiled a new draft on the Regulations on the Administration of Permanent Residence of Foreigners. The new draft introduced a new set of rules to determine how foreign citizens can be eligible for permanent residency in China.

Unfortunately, the endeavor has been stuck in the ‘draft seeking for public comments’ stage. Hence, foreigners still need to refer to local policies to understand the details of the permanent residency applications, including the eligibility criteria, procedures, timeline, and costs.

In this article, we provide information on the most updated permanent residency policies in the South China province of Guangdong, which has multiple cities that are part of the Greater Bay Area.

Who can apply for permanent residence in Guangdong?

As part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and with an increasing demand for overseas talents, the Guangdong province has relaxed immigration rules to make it easier for foreign nationals to live and work in Guangdong.

As early as 2016, the Guangdong Public Security department released the Sixteen Entry-Exist Policy Measures (“Sixteen Policies”) in an effort to simplify the entry process and encourage the retention of high-level foreign talents and innovators in Guangdong. The Sixteen Policies came into effect on August 1, 2016.

Of the Sixteen Policies, some lowered the threshold for a permanent residency identity card in Guangdong and Guangdong Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and shortened the processing time.

Combined with the relevant relaxed policies, in the following table, we compiled the eligibility criteria for six categories of applicants who can apply for Chinese Green Card in Guangdong – including foreigner workers, high-level talents, investors, foreigners with outstanding contributions, foreign nationals of Chinese origin, and foreigners applying for family reunion reasons.

Foreigner Permanent Residence Identity Application in Guangdong






Eligibility criteria

Can spouse and minor children apply together?












Foreign workers

Workers whose annual salary income and personal income tax payments have reached the prescribed standards ·       Have worked in Guangdong for 4 consecutive years;

·       Have actually lived in China for no less than 6 months each year within the 4 years;

·       With an annual salary (before tax) exceeding RMB 400,000 for 4 consecutive years;

·       Have paid personal income tax of more than RMB 70,000 each year for 4 consecutive years; and

·       Being recommended by the present employer.

Not mentioned
Senior staff, managers, and professors ·       Holding a position of chairman, vice-chairman, general manager, deputy general manager, and above or have titles of associate professor, associate researcher, and above;

·       Have served the same company for 4 consecutive years and has stayed in China for no less than three years cumulatively;

·       Have good tax records; and

·       Have met one of the following conditions for 4 consecutive years:

o   Serving in scientific research institutions under various departments of the State Council, or the People’s Government of Guangdong Province, or public institutions of an administrative nature or function;

o   Serving in key colleges and universities (“211 Project” schools);

o   Serving in an enterprise or institution that implements national key engineering projects or major scientific and technological projects; or

o   Serving in a high-tech enterprise, encouraged foreign-invested enterprise, foreign-invested advanced technology enterprise, or foreign-invested product export enterprise.






Foreign high-end talents

High-level talents who meet identification standards ·       Have met the criteria for identifying high-level foreign talents; and

·       Being recommended by the Guangdong Free Trade Office or the local municipal governments.

High-level talents with a work-type residence permit (marked with “talent”) who have worked in Guangdong for 3 years The Applicant should be one of the following types of talents:

·       High-level talents recognized by the Guangdong Provincial Department of Talents;

·       Highly specialized personnel hired and whose employment is guaranteed by enterprises recognized by the Guangdong Provincial Science and Technology Innovation Department and the Guangdong Free Trade Office; or

·       High-end talents hired by universities and research institutes in Guangdong Province.

And the applicant should meet all of the following conditions:

·       Hold a work-type residence permit with a note of “talent”;

·       Have worked in Guangdong for 3 years before the date of application; and

·       Being recommended by the present employer.

Not mentioned
Members in an innovation and entrepreneurship team in Guangdong and technical personnel selected by enterprises ·       Have met certain score-based standards (based on the “evaluation criteria for talent points”); and

·       Have received the relevant points evaluation certificate issued by the Guangdong Free Trade Office or the local Municipal Bureau of Foreign Experts Affairs.

Not mentioned
Foreigners specifically needed Foreigners who make outstanding contributions or are of great value to the country ·       Have made significant and outstanding contributions to the country’s economic development and social progress; or

·       Is a global top talent, talent with special skills, and celebrity who is of great value to the country.

Foreign investors Foreign investors making direct investments as a natural person or through an enterprise in which they are a natural person controlling shareholder ·       Have made a total investment of US$1 million (including a total of US$500,000 in encouraged industries) in Guangdong within 3 years;

·       Have made stable investments for 3 consecutive years; and

·       Have good tax records.

Not mentioned



Foreign investors who made a relatively large direct investment Foreigners who meet any of the following conditions (and their spouses and minor children) may apply for permanent residence in China:

·       Have made direct investment in China and the total registered capital actually delivered is above US$2 million (not lower than this standard for 3 consecutive years);

·       Have made direct investment in Central China and the total registered capital actually delivered is above US$1 million (not lower than this standard for 3 consecutive years);

·       Have made direct investment in Western China or key poverty-stricken counties and the total registered capital actually delivered is above US$500,000 (not lower than this standard for 4 consecutive years); or

·       Have made investment in the industries encouraging foreign investment and the total registered capital actually delivered is above US$500,000 (not lower than the standard for 3 consecutive years).

Foreign citizens of Chinese origin Foreign Chinese holding a Ph.D degree or meeting the length of service requirements ·       Have a doctoral degree or above and work in an enterprise in Guangdong with a work-type residence permit; or

·       Have worked in an enterprise in Guangdong with a work-type residence permit for 4 consecutive years and have actually lived in China for at least 6 months each year.

Not mentioned
For family reunion reasons Foreigners seeking refuge ·       Have no immediate family members abroad and seek refuge with immediate family members in China;

·       Have reached the age of 60;

·       Have stayed in China continuously for 5 years, and not less than 9 months each year; and

·       Have a stable livelihood and shelter.










Not applicable

Minor children ·       One or both of the parents are Chinese citizens or foreigners with permanent residence status in China;

·       Under 18 years old and unmarried; and

·       Have foreign nationality after examination.

Foreign spouses ·       Married to a Chinese citizen (with permanent household registration in Guangdong Province) or a foreigner who has obtained permanent residency in China;

·       The marriage relationship has lasted for 5 years;

·       Have stayed in China continuously for 5 years and not less than 9 months each year; and

·       Have a stable livelihood and shelter.

Sources: Entry-Exist Bureau of Public Security Department of Guangdong Province

Disclaimer: Information in this table is collected from the official WeChat account of the Entry-Exit Administration of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau and translated by China Briefing for general information purpose. No liability is assumed for the accuracy of the content. For advice on your specific business queries, please contact a qualified professional advisor. You are welcome to consult our experts at Dezan Shira & Associates by emailing us at [email protected].

How to apply for permanent residence in Guangdong?

Upon self-assessment of the qualifications based on the above-mentioned categories, the applicant should prepare corresponding application documents and submit to the local exit-entrance administration bureau.

Here are the primary documents needed for the permanent residence application:

  • Complete Application Form for Permanent Residence in China;
  • Valid passports and valid visas (or resident permit);
  • Health certificates issued by a domestic entry-exit inspection authority and issued within the last six months;
  • Non-criminal record abroad;
  • Paper and electronic photos;
  • If the applicant applies for the permanent residence card through employment – company recommendation letters, employment certificate, licenses, relevant qualification documents, pay slips, and tax payment certificates are also required;
  • If applicant is an accompanying family member – proof of relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate, or proof of kinship) and evidence of shelter and table income are also required;
  • If the applicant was once of Chinese nationality – naturalization paper or household registration transcript, overseas permanent resident certificate, and previous China passport are also required;
  • If the applicant is a foreign investor – the certificate and record-filing documents related to foreign invested enterprise, the business license, a capital verification report showing that the company’s registered capital has reached the standard, and personal tax payment certificate for the last three years; and
  • If the applicant is high-end talents – the high-end talents certificate or recommendation issued by Guangdong province or local authorities are required.

Applicants shall submit the primary documents as well as additional materials required by the exit-entry administration of the local public security bureau, and the application will be processed within 90-180 working days (Applications in most of the criteria could be processed within 180 days and time for investigation is excluded if some items need to be investigated by the local public security bureau).

In practice, the whole process could be prolonged considering the time for preparing the documentation and submitting them to the bureau in charge.

Given the burdensome preparation work and the ongoing travel restrictions, it is advisable that applicants reach out to a local specialist to handle the application process.

As a professional business service provider, Dezan Shira & Associates can provide you necessary support in assessing your eligibility and feasibility, as well as processing your application for a Chinese permanent residence ID card. Please contact us without hesitation or email us at [email protected].

About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at [email protected]. Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.

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