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Overseas hiring procedures may be streamlined, records centralized
A new visa category has been proposed, in a draft law by the top legislature, to streamline the hiring procedures for international talent and to centralize records of foreigners.
The second draft on regulating arrivals and departures from China, proposed to lawmakers on Tuesday, envisions a new specific visa for international expertise, in addition to the existing tourist, student and business visa.
The move is part of initiatives to attract more talented individuals from overseas, experts said.
Authorities have made efforts to attract more expatriate workers across a wide sector of professions. Foreign employees now number about 600,000, according to the 2010 national census.
The new policy is, however, being challenged as having failed to address the "crux" of the matter.
Cui Aimin, a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, doubted the necessity of such a change in his address delivered to the top legislature after the first reading in December.
Obstacles in recruiting overseas talent were not due to visa applications, he said.
Other factors were involved, he said.
A survey released earlier this month of more than 180,000 expatriates living in China indicated that the environment, education, air pollution and traffic congestion, play a role in shaping opinion, according to a magazine affiliated to the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.
A system centralizing information about foreigners in the country is likely to be introduced in a move expected to tackle illegal employment.
Records under the current system are kept in various places and are difficult to access.
Liu Guofu, an expert on immigration law, said the ambiguous division of responsibilities among government agencies makes it difficult to combat illegal employment and overstaying.
Liu, from the Beijing Institute of Technology, said, for example, that the human resources administration is unlikely to learn if an overseas graduate takes up employment unless the foreigner applies for a working permit or the employer takes the initiative to file the hiring.
China has seen a rocketing number of foreign visitors since opening up in the late 1970s.
There were 260 million arrivals and departures in China from January to September in 2011, the ministries of public security and foreign affairs said. In 1980 the figure was only 12.1 million.
Beijing, second only to Shanghai in terms of the number of foreigners with a residency permit, was home to nearly 120,000 foreigners by the end of 2011.
Under current regulations concerning the arrival and departure of foreigners, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for issuing visas, while public security officers and police are tasked with verifying their documents and carrying out routine examination at entry ports.
Once foreigners have entered China, information about them will be archived according to their purpose of visit.
For instance, records of overseas students are kept with the Ministry of Education, and those of foreign employees are kept with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs or other related agencies.
Zhang Bailin, deputy director of the Law Committee of the National People's Congress, explained the necessity of improved efficiency to legislators during their bimonthly session, which opened on Tuesday.
Kevin, an overseas student from the University of International Business and Economics, who declined to give his full name, admitted he was "unsure" about whether working part-time with a student visa was illegal.
Kevin is currently interning, and being paid, at a Beijing-based public affairs company.
"Investigating overstaying and employment relies on public tip-offs," said Zhao Yu, a professor with the Chinese People's Public Security University.
People do not report overstaying or illegal employment in their neighborhood unless it has infringed upon their rights, he said.
Beijing's Public Security Bureau's arrival and departure department has reported a total of 13,000 cases of illegal entry, overstaying and employment since 2008.
It noted that there are many students in the city staying illegally with a tourist or expired visa.