Special Incentives for Overseas Talents in Shanghai

According to the latest reports, Shanghai is so far the most popular and most attractive city for foreigners. In 2018, it has recorded over 170,00 population of registered foreigners from all over the world, which are mostly workers. Considering this, the Chinese government continues to provide tax incentives and subsidies that will benefit overseas talents living in Shanghai.

Have a look at our previous article on Foreign Talents in South China Enjoy Tax Incentives

The development of the Shanghai Lingang Special Area has also given more reason for foreigners to work and live in one of the most modern cities in China. Find out various policies targeting overseas students and talents in Shanghai.

Special tax and housing incentives for foreign talents

Tax incentives

The newly expanded new Lingang area will grant tax subsidies to offset the difference between the higher income tax rates in Shanghai and the lower rate in Hong Kong. It will also lower corporate income tax rates for manufacturing companies in the fenced customs area of this zone.

The local governments in the Greater Bay Area in South China have already implemented the procedures for such special incentives. Thus, Shanghai may follow through with similar procedures where high-end foreign talents can apply for a financial subsidy.

Check out Financial Subsidy Application Procedures for Foreign Talents for details of the application.

Housing subsidies

The Lingang free trade zone also presents fixed-price housing for overseas talents. Living spaces may be converted to flats for foreign talents with special expertise and highly valuable skills. Eligible high-level talents hired by employers and do not own a house can rent talent apartments in that area.

Read more: Preferential Tax for Lingang New Area Enterprises

To further promote settlement, the Shanghai government also offers permanent residency for those who have resided in Shanghai for five years. To note, top talents only need three years to get a PR. Furthermore, foreign talents who have paid their individual income taxes (IIT) and social security for three years will have the privilege of buying and owning a house in the said area.

A brief insight into the Lingang New Area

Lingang Special Area Shanghai special incentives

Source: Shanghai officially launches new FTZ, Lingang Special Area, CGTN News

The Lingang New Area is an added zone to Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone or FTZ. Its purpose is to enable economy, trade, and foreign-related activities to allure foreign talents or investors. It is divided into three parts including the southern part of the Lingang Area and Pudong International Airport, and the lesser Yangshan Island.

China envisions these areas to function as an economic zone for the global market. Thus, the local government is giving away preferential taxes and fast-tracking the recruitment of overseas talents.

Special business and work incentives for overseas students and professionals

Overseas students working permits

Foreign students in Shanghai can also conduct part-time entrepreneurial activities in the Lingang New Area. This is applicable given the recommendation of their respective universities and the Lingang Special Area Administration. In this case, the local government will grant them work permits directly on top of their study residence permits. Meanwhile, those who wish to work in the new zone will receive the Shanghai Overseas Talent Residence Permit (Card B), instead of applying for a work permit. Moreover, foreign talents can extend the validity of the SOTRC for ten years.

The Lingang Special Area Overseas Students Pioneer Park

Students and talents abroad are welcome to start businesses in the Overseas Students Pioneer Park at the Lingang Special Area. The said talent zone aims to attract students who have the following qualifications to start a business:

  • Have obtained a master’s degree or above from overseas;
  • Excellent foreign graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above from a world-class university.

Those who wish to avail themselves and are eligible will be automatically granted the work permit. Furthermore, the local administration can regard their work experience abroad at the same level as domestic work experience. Eligible projects can also obtain special support from the Lingang local administration as listed below.

  • Start-up funds
  • Office subsidies
  • Loan interest discounts
  • Listing subsidies

Overseas talents’ qualification for Chinese professional licenses

Shanghai allows overseas talents to take China’s examinations for registered qualification certificates for professionals like real estate appraisers and registered urban and rural planners. Eligible registered professionals with foreign licenses in Finance, Architecture, Planning, Design, and other fields can provide professional services in Lingang Special Area. Besides, their work experience abroad may be regarded as domestic work experience.

Recruitment of overseas students and experts

Overseas Chinese

Outstanding foreign graduates can work directly in the Lingang Special Area and apply for work and residence permits. They can also benefit from the “escalator” system intended for projects under the Shanghai Pujiang Talent Program. The system will allow applicants to go directly to the second round of review and get a better chance of being included in the said program. This program targets Chinese fresh graduates and entrepreneurs who have returned to China from overseas and want to start a business. Accordingly, foreign experts can come to Shanghai and conduct a research project for at least 9 months per year for 3 consecutive years under the Shanghai Municipal 1,000 Talents Plan.

Returning overseas students who have acquired a foreign nationality can get support for improved working and living conditions. They can directly apply for a ten-year residence permit (Type B) for overseas talents without needing a work permit.

Foreign talents and experts

Science and technology companies in the Lingang area continue to relax restrictions on the qualifications of foreign talents. This means that foreign talents can get hired more easily regardless of their age, educational background, and working experience. At the same time, they can obtain a two-year or longer Foreigner’s Work Permit if they are qualified.

Also, read our previous article on Residence Permit Made Easier for Foreigners in China


In a power move to entice foreign talent to move to Shanghai, the government has also opened up opportunities for individuals as well as businesses to access the booming market of this thriving city. Overseas talents, students, workers, and companies who wish to avail of this have several options to consider. With the right frame of mind and expert services to help you out, every move will be one step in the right direction.

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