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Q&A on Permanent Residency

Updated: Nov 7, 2017 safea.gov.cn Print

What is the difference between permanent residence and settlement?

The original Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of the Entry and Exit of Foreigners clarifiy the concepts of settlement and permanent residence.

Previously, China mainly offered residency - settlement - to people who wished to be reunited with their families.

Permanent residence mainly concerned foreign high-level talents and those who had made a unique contribution to the Chinese people.

However, as a legal concept, there is not much difference between permanent residence and settlement and, in practice, those who were granted settlement and permanent residence enjoyed the same rights.

Therefore, the authorities decided there was no need to make a distinction between settlement and permanent residence - and China thus now only uses the concept of “permanent residence in China,” and issues only Permanent Residence Permits.

How many categories are there concerning the length of residence of foreigners in China?

According to Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of the Entry and Exit of Foreigners, foreigners staying in China can be classified according to three categories - those in the country for a short stay, those here for a long stay, and permanent residents.

A short stay concerns foreigners who come to China to travel, visit relatives or conduct business in the country. Foreigners staying in China for a short stay usually get a visa for less than one year.

A long stay mainly refers to foreigners who study, work or invest in China. These foreigners are granted a 1-5 year multiple entry visa and residence document.

What rights and obligations are involved in permanent residency for foreigners?

Regulations on Examination and Approval of Permanent Residence of Foreigners in China stipulate that foreigners who receive permanent residency in China can live in the country permanently. They thus do not have to apply for a visa to enter or leave the territory. The rights they enjoy and obligations they have in China are determined by the country's relevant laws, and under the laws and regulations, they have the rights as well as obligations that they should have.

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