To achieve its ambitions to become a global innovation and technology hub by 2030, Shanghai is going all-out to attract foreign talent to speed up its transformation.
Since June, the city government has introduced several beneficial policies such as providing permanent resident's permits for high-level overseas passport holders and offering subsidies to high-tech professionals.
One policy now means international students who obtain master's degrees at Chinese universities can instantly get work permits if they land a job with a company in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, while bachelor's degree holders who want to start a business can apply for two-year residence permits.
"The enhanced recruitment system has been widely applied to help graduates find jobs and help companies hire overseas professionals with better abilities," said Chen Hao, deputy director of the municipal government's organization department. "People always play the core role in the growth of companies, which eventually contributes to the development of the city."
According to Shanghai Education Commission, more than 53,800 international students were studying in Shanghai in 2013, up 30 percent on 2010.
Albert Saputra, an Indonesian with a master's in marketing from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, was the first to obtain one of the new work permits in August after the policy was introduced.
"China's economy is growing ... and there are great opportunities and jobs available here for foreign graduates to learn and gain experience," said the 27-year-old, who received a three-year work permit after being recruited by the Shanghai office of Nexans, a French cable manufacturer.
The policy has also been good news for employers looking for a wider range of talent.
"It will encourage employers to fill positions with better-fitting talent," said Pete China, managing director of BRecruit China, a recruitment service provider in Asia. However, he added, "International students should provide added value to the Chinese job market. In other words, they should be armed with skill sets that can't be found among the local talent."
Saputra, who has a plan to settle down in Shanghai permanently, said he would consider applying for a green card. According to the rules, he will be eligible after working for three years and with a recommendation from his employer.
"I will apply, as I plan to live and work here long term. Permanent residence will allow me to enroll in the medical system, own an apartment and will benefit my future children," he said.
Shanghai's talent policies have had a positive effect on applications for permanent residency, official data show. Between July and December, 197 expatriates applied for permanent resident's permits, six times more than during the same period in 2014. In addition, 715 people received long-term work permits, up 12 times.
"Attracting overseas talent with beneficial recruitment and visa policies will continue to be our work focus to transform the FTZ, Pudong district and even the city into an innovation and technology center with global influence," said Sun Jiwei, governor of Pudong district.