Shanghai's Public Security Bureau introduced, in May 2018, a new ''Private Residence Permit (Entrepreneurship)'', most commonly known as ''Business Startup visa'' (创业签证), which enables foreign entrepreneurs to live in China while launching their innovative business in Shanghai.

The initial validity period of the startup visa is one year, but it can be extended for a further one year if the foreign entrepreneur is able to prove that a company has been successfully established throughout this time period. Alternatively, the startup visa can also be converted into a work permit once the company is legally established

The startup visa is a unique visa of its kind in China, and has been piloted only in select districts in Shanghai, such as Changning and Yangpu. The scope of its eligibility criteria is quite expansive as it is open to foreign individuals who have traditionally been denied (or who do not meet the criteria of) other visa categories, including graduates who do not meet the sufficient working experience requirement, or individuals over 60 years old.

The following categories of applicants are eligible to apply for a startup visa:

  • Foreign students who have the willingness to innovate and start a business in Shanghai and graduated from a higher education institution in China;
  • Foreigners planning to invest in Shanghai or innovate in business; and
  • Excellent overseas graduates from top Chinese universities or world-renowned universities who have been graduated for no more than two years but have made outstanding achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship in Shanghai.

The main advantage of such startup visa, as compared with other types of visas, is that it gives foreign entrepreneur, investor or key management staff a high degree of flexibility in starting off an innovative business in Shanghai, by allowing them to conduct a wide range of activities (such as business development, staff recruitment, lease searching, preliminary market research) before a company is legally established.

Among the required documents, the applicant will need to provide an entrepreneurship or investment related certificate from high-tech parks, economic development zones, or incubators specifically approved by the Chinese authorities.

It is believed that this new startup visa is part of Shanghai Government's economic development strategy through innovation and attracting high-skills talents and foreign entrepreneurs. Shanghai also released earlier this year preferential visa and green card policies for top foreign talents, as well as various opening-up measures which aimed at easing market access in key industries for foreign investors. We invite you to also read our latest publication regarding the new proposed measures regarding foreign strategic investments in Chinese listed companies.

Masson de Morfontaine can assist you throughout the application process of an entrepreneur/startup visa in Shanghai.

For more information on services provided through Masson de Morfontaine Ltd, please visit our website or contact Francois Barbotin at