Foreign students who have completed their postgraduate degrees in Chinese or overseas institutions are now allowed to find a job in mainland China without any previous work experience.
The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, and Human Resources and Social Security co-released a document on January 12 announcing the move to liberalize the domestic job market to attract international talents.
Previously, students had to obtain one of three types of permits to be eligible to work in mainland China. They were a) high-end talent, b) special talents (an applicant with a master’s degree or above and no less than two years working experience) and c) temporary seasonal non-technical jobs.
According to the ministries’ joint document, foreign postgraduates who have finished their studies – a masters degree or above – gained a B grade (or 80 out of 100) and left school within a year are eligible.
Students must be 18 or above and have no criminal record when they apply for both the Alien Employment License and the Alien Employment Permit. Applications are accepted at any local office of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
“It is a major breakthrough,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank close to the State Council. “The policy is ahead of many other countries by including foreign graduates from overseas universities.”
The think tank has been an advocate of easing restrictions on overseas students to work in China, having noted this suggestion in its annual report since 2013.
The move is expected to ease the brain drain from China, where there are more leaving. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Education, 523,700 Chinese students left for overseas education in 2015, while 397,635 overseas students came to study in China.
“For China, international talents with different skill sets are in high demand,” Wang said, “and it is not only STEM [sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics] students, but also managerial talents.”
The document also states that the salary could be no lower than the average for local urban employees. But to better retain international talents, Wang suggested that the social security system could be improved to make it more attractive for students to stay. “The social insurance that they pay cannot be withdrawn when they leave China,” Wang said.
It is also possible to further relax the limits, such as opening the scheme to bachelor’s degree graduates, added Wang.