Immigration Update: Coming back to China Without PU Letter

For several months, and due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 worldwide, the Chinese government suspended the entry into China of foreign nationals holding visas and resident permits. This measure included those holding a valid one at the time of the announcement in late March.

The First Easing of the Regulations: Obtaining a PU Letter

A relative easing in this measure was later announced. It stated that foreigners who are coming for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological reasons, or are needed for urgent humanitarian assistance could then come in the country.

This opening was still very narrow: those aiming at coming and meeting the requirements, had to apply for an Invitation Letter (also called PU letter) issued the China Foreign Affair Office. The latter would then judge whether or not the applicant were indeed needed in China. Those meeting the criteria usually were senior managers of medium and large companies or were involved in research of key projects.

New Announcement on August 10th 2020: Great News for those Holding a Valid Residence Permit and Who Are Nationals of the Listed Countries

On August 10th 2020 however, a very exciting news has been announced by the Chinese government for those outside the framework of the PU Letter issuance. The Chinese authorities have confirmed that holders of valid resident permits (work, private affairs or family reunion) and who are nationals of certain countries, are now able to apply for a visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate in these countries without a letter of invitation. This process is free of charges.

Those countries include Albania, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Belgium, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom.

It has not been stated yet if this measure will be followed by new ones, broadening the scope of those able to enter the country. In addition, no measures were announced regarding new work visas, and those interested in it still have to go through the PU Letter application process. Yet, it is again a very good news for all those who were awaiting for several months to come back and for the families separated by the closed borders.

It is also important to note that the process might still not be as smooth as it was before the pandemic. Many European citizens eager to come back have indeed noted that the airplane tickets are far more expensive than normally. The fares are nevertheless expected to gradually lower as they did the other way around (China to Europe).

ASI Movers wishes all those returning to China a smooth journey back. Our team is at your disposal to plan and assist you in your upcoming move.

For those who have left China without having the opportunity to repatriate their belongings yet, we also provide dedicated services to assist you in this process.

What Opportunities Can Expats Find in China after Covid-19?

Following the Covid-19 crisis, many expats and “nomads” had to put their international journey on hold, and maybe even rethink the career path they had envisioned. As a matter of fact, some international assignments have been reconsidered, while the job market for foreigners has been shaken due to the extra cost these employees might bring along compared to the local population.

As such, some foreigners used to or considering working abroad are now considering new career options aside from the traditional ones.

A recent report by Startup Genome ranked Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as part of the top cities for those eager to become to entrepreneurs. Among cities such as New York, London, Boston, Seattle or Stockholm; Chinese cities seems to have gained a good reputation amid start-up-savvy people. In anticipation of the post-covid crisis, it is nowadays relevant to have a look at what are the opportunities awaiting those eager to start a project abroad, more specifically in China.

The Situation During the Crisis

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on entrepreneurship in China. As of January 2020, we could already see the pandemic's (at the time only epidemic) outputs:

“When we break down the numbers by region, we see that China saw the biggest drop in funding, followed by the rest of Asia. This is not surprising considering the importance of Chinese capital throughout Asia’s startup ecosystems and the start of the virus in Taiwan and Korea in January” Startup Genome noted. It is worth noticing that this drop was not only due to the Chinese New Year – normally quieter – period. The 3 previous years actually show an equal or higher number of deals in January which highlights even more the effects of the pandemic.

An Economic Recovery to Benefit Entrepreneurs?

Because the pandemic first started and thus ended in China, this is no surprise that the economy will revive there first. The Global Times indeed underlines that after a 6.8% contraction of its GDP (year on year) in the first quarter 2020, the second quarter showed a 3.2% increase.

Even if China leading the economic recovery depends largely on whether or not other countries also restart and thus act as economic partners, Chinese imports and exports both increased in June, showing good signs for the future.

CGTN credits the Hi-Tech startups companies and entrepreneurs for this recovery, highlighting that they created and are creating new business formats which not only answered the Chinese population needs during the lockdown, but also changed the way they think and consume, paving the way for a post-covid business environment.

Experts thus talked of a structural change which favors entrepreneurship, especially the technology-based kind. This is particularly true in China where new technologies have been adopted at a greater rate, and whose use is more widespread.

In comparison to the early effects of the pandemic, startups seem to have done fairly well during the international crisis in China. Calvin Jiang (founder of a high-tech consulting firm in Beijing) stated in his interview to CGTN that “Hi-Tech startups and small businesses are robust despite the Covid-19 outbreak”. It is added that “after the 2008 great recession, top universities in the United States have launched various startup incubation to find a way out there to boost the labor market. According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average employment in 2011 at high-tech and information and communications technology firms surpasses those across the private sector as a whole. In turn, China is experiencing a similar kind of stage currently that a new cycle of job creation is yet to come”.

What Does It Mean For Expats?

The Covid-19 crisis has been the occasion for many creative people to work on entrepreneurial projects they had in mind for some time. It has also been a great opportunity for others to acquire new skills through online resources and e-learning, those skills potentially serving their entrepreneurial visions.

Where can these projects develop then? The article from expat.com we previously mentioned, and which is titled “how to succeed as an overseas entrepreneur after the covid-19 crisis”, argued that major cities like New York, London, Boston, Seattle, Stockholm, but also Beijing and Shanghai were interesting options. Guangzhou has also been recognized as an emerging city for entrepreneurs to develop in.

Expats eager to become entrepreneurs might thus find great opportunities in China once the immigration regulations have resumed to their normal state. As we pointed out in a previous article, a Business Startup visa does exist in China. It enables those having it to live in China while launching their innovative business. It also allows them to conduct auxiliary businesses related to their business launch while developing their main activity. Note that this visa is available for foreign students, foreigners planning to invest in Shanghai or to innovate in business, as well as for excellent overseas graduates.

While older and large (and thus traditional) firms are the major source of employment in China, new and young businesses are the ones creating the most new jobs, underlines Donghui Mao in his interview to CGTN. Donghui Mao is the director of X-Lab in Tsinghua University, a non-profit university-based educational platform that aims at nurturing STEM students into social entrepreneurs through international incubation. This acknowledgment shows that new and innovative businesses are the most prone to answer modern customers’ demands, and thus the most effective at grasping opportunities.

The aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis might be a key turning point – either by choice or by necessity – in many creative minds' careers. The general trend as well as the positioning of China on this matter makes it likely that foreign entrepreneurs will find great opportunities in the country to develop their innovative project.

While many in the world are still greatly impacted by the crisis, the progressive reopening of borders enables those eager to do so to envision what their career could be like in a post-covid world.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Covid-19 and Working Abroad: What Is to Be Expected?

The Covid-19 is obviously having and will have huge impact in terms of employment.

Many SMEs’ and even bigger businesses’ activity has suffered from the pandemic and the lockdowns it induced. The OECD predicted that the world will thus register its slowest growth rate since 2019, inducing job losses as well as difficulties finding a job.

The examples of the US and China are quite striking in that sense, as 6 million people have filed jobless in the former and 205 million workers having lost their jobs in the latter, according to the South China Morning Post.

Since the virus is still present worldwide, it is quite difficult to anticipate with exactitude the impact it will have on those eager to or already working abroad. However, some elements indicate a general trend for the so called nomads.

Today we have gathered a relevant summary of what is happening and will happen in a post-Covid-19 world for those who have decided to leave their home country.

The Situation During the Crisis

AIRINC earlier published a report on expat assignments (Pulse Survey: COVID-19 and International Expat Assignments) which provides an interesting analysis on the current impact of the pandemic on the latter.

More specifically, we can see that most expats stayed in their host country and remained on their assignment.

One of the testimonies quoted in the survey stresses that “the greatest challenge has been the relocation and accelerated repatriation of short-term assignees who might otherwise have gotten “stuck” without ability to travel”.

This statement is not only true of the so-called expatriates, but also applies more generally to those working abroad. Since the above survey only tackles expats, it may overlook the larger population of people living abroad, while many have left their host location.

In addition, the challenges do not only apply to those eager to leave their host country, but extends to all those who are unable to leave a place they were only planning on staying at for a short period of time. In a nutshell, global mobility has been put on hold on an international level.

As we touched upon in our previous articles, and this is particularly true of foreigners normally living in China, it created a lot of challenges. Many were unable to come back to their host country, where their job, sometimes family, belongings and overall life remain. Others came home unexpectedly and will not go back to their host country, which means they do not have a place of their own to live in, their children will have to leave the local school they were enrolled in, etc.

Working Abroad in a Post-Covid World

Both multinational and local companies have taken measures regarding the impact of Covid-19 on their business and their management of foreign assignees, namely pulling expat employees out of high risk areas delaying the start of expat assignments, and suspending new hires.

The traditional dilemma between employing expatriates/foreigners and resorting to the local workforce will be highly reflected in a world post-Covid-19. This especially true given the global recession the IMF is currently anticipating.

Except when one is looking for employing very specialized profiles (science, innovation, AI, most of the time, even though the sectors vary depending on the location), hiring a foreigner comes with sometimes deterrent drawbacks.

As a matter of fact, salary expectations are generally higher compared to employing a local worker. For expats usually benefitting from the full package traditionally coming with their status, the cost rises even higher with companies often endorsing the housing and international school expenses.

As such, the International Labor Organization (ILO) expects the chances for expats to get employed to drop. There is indeed a risk that companies will rely more and more on informal employees which means less chances of getting hired abroad.

However, one should not get too pessimistic regarding the situation.

The company Career Trotter (which specializes in international recruitments) for instance, stresses that “despite the Covid-19 virus, numerous companies are still looking to hire multilingual talents”. In addition, they note that many of the companies they work with are “going remote, so [one doesn’t] have to leave the comfort of [one’s] home for interviews, training and the job itself”.

If one thing, the virus indeed pushed many companies to go online and administrate their business remotely. The now widespread use of Zoom is the perfect embodiment of such a trend.

On one hand, it means that the way one works could be influenced long-term by the habits developed during the pandemics i.e. working remotely. Nomads might thus see their work practicies change toward more online tasking.

On the other hand, it means that, even when the world is still in partial lockdown, it shouldn’t deter those eager to work abroad from searching for adequate opportunities. While waiting for the situation to go back to normal i.e. free international mobility to resume as well as the economic impact of the pandemic to unwind. It is indeed still possible to apply, get a formation, and start working remotely. As we touched upon before, an expat status is maybe not the easiest one to get nowadays, yet one can expect more informal positions to open.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Moving Memories – ASI Movers Relocation Story

MOVING MEMORIES

Some items are simply more precious than they seem.

They carry with them part of your family history, good memories, or simply are familiar objects which make you feel at home.

Whether it's a porcelain set, decoration items, your book collection, this guitar you used to play, or simply some clothes which remind you a certain period of your life, the fact remains they never leave you, no matter where you go.

At ASI Movers, we understand the sentimental value that can be attached to your belongings.

Our 10-year expertise in international relocation from, to and within China taught us that a move needs to be performed with care, for our customers to keep enjoying the things which matter to them.

Our aim?

Making sure that, no matter where you go, the volume, or the nature of the items, you experience an easy and stressfree relocation process, from end, to end.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Returning Home: Why It Doesn’t Quite Feel Like Doing So

With the recent development of the COVID-19, and some foreigners now being prevented from reintering China (following the Chinese Government notice published last week), many of the people living abroad have experienced or will experience what going back home deeply feels like. Some of them might indeed not return to China after the epidemic.

Regardless of the latter, and the peculiar daily life it induces, returning to where you grew up, for a couple of weeks or a longer period, often comes with a weird feeling. Most of the environment you grew up in is similar to what it was when you left, and yet, you do not feel quite the same toward it.

The reason is simple: people living abroad go through very peculiar experiences that change what home means to them, as well as their identity. Understanding why and how these two notions evolve can be challenging, especially when being in the middle of it.

Today, we present you with an overview of why and how “home” becomes a blurrier and blurrier notion for those who have made the choice to leave their original one, and how is one’s identity modeled by one’s chosen location.

 

 

We also take the occasion to tackle a challenge that recently arose for all those who did not re-enter China before last week's announcement.

With China's recent notice stating foreigners cannot enter the country anymore, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, many people have started to to plan repatriating their belongings from China while already outside the country.

As such, if you or your relatives are in such a situation, ASI Movers team expresses you its deep support in these difficult times.

We obviously remain at your disposal to help coordinate this unplanned move the best way possible.

Stay safe and take care everyone!

Why Does Living Abroad Affect your Definition of Home

You arrive in this new place, whom customs, traditions, and maybe language you are not familiar with. The concept of culture shock is a useful tool to understand how the sense of home is built when relocating.

In The Art of Coming Home, Craig Sorti breaks it up in 4 steps: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and adaptation. It’s also useful to note that, if we consider going to another country after, or back home, the process follows a W shape.

What makes us able to overcome the crisis state, and eventually adapt to the new place we live in, is our emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the psychological ability to adapt to the challenges coming to you by developing psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow you to remain calm during crisis, moving on from the past incident (in that case relocating to a foreign environment) without long-term negative consequences. Depending on the person, this process can take more or less time and effort. For most global nomads, this ability indeed increases, becoming a habit. It's aslo a useful concept to understand our reactions toward the epidemic the world is currently living.

When completed, it nevertheless has changed you as you have indeed faced an identity dilemma. You have accepted and overcome the discrepancies between your past and present lives and environments. It requires you to determine what your core values and beliefs are, which will remain constant throughout your life, which ones will be ditched, and integrate aspects of the local identity into your own. The "nomadic lifestyle" can thus be summed up in a search for congruence in our sense of who we are, no matter where we are.
This integration can also be very trivial and as simple as changing your consumption habits, the way you behave in the street or address people. In that sense, you are changed by your new environment, which now becomes home to you.

Why Going Back Home Often Doesn't Quite Feel Like Doing So

When returning back home, you would at first expect to completely fit in, as you have just got back to a familiar environment and set of known cultural references. However, it’s often not the case, for three main reasons:

  • You have adapted to your life abroad: as stated, following the U-curve previously described, you have adapted to your life abroad, picking up the local habits, the codes, and the way of thinking. You thus now have to go through the second part of the curve i.e. readapting to home. Your whole lifestyle has been affected and might not be congruent at all with your original one.
  • You have changed because of your experiences abroad and what you have learned being far from your home country. What you know about the world, and thus your opinions, have enriched and might not totally fit with the lifestyle you used to have.
  • Home has changed and/or is not similar to the image you kept in mind. Living abroad also means life continues back home without you being completely involved, the environment you were used to (economic, political, cultural, and even physical) has evolved, and even your friends have changed with time. You might also have kept in mind an idealized or, on the contrary, a negative image of home, and comparing it with the reality when returning is can be disorientating.

Consequently, home, more often than not, feels foreign. Not only has it changed while you were away, but you also see it differently, as if you had put new lenses on. In some cases, you can even feel marginalized, become critical toward your home town/country which can eventually lead to exhaustion and depression.

Home for Global Individuals: A Complex Notion

As such, the notion of home has a very peculiar sense for global individuals. This is due to the fact that it is tightly linked to their identity, and the latter is in their case more prone to acculturation (the assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one). Remember that your identity is obviously also shaped by your social groups, your role in a given society, your "group memberships", etc.

One can then easily understand how the place we live in affects our identity and thus where we feel at home: a different place means different social roles, different interpersonal interaction, different believes, etc. As such, one is continuously building his or her identity along the way, far from were he or she grew up. Coming back might then not feel quite aligned with who we are now. One is entitled to social roles and practices he or she has grown away from.

Yet, because the global lifestyle means having experienced sometimes multiple places of residence, one has often the feeling of belonging to all of them and none of them at the same time. The identity and sense of belonging to somewhere or something has grown apart from a specific location or culture, and is more linked to the nuclear family one has been moving with, a set of familiar objects, or even just the feeling of being in a foreign environment. In that respect, the sense of home is complex because it is intangible and its construction differs from one global individual to another, depending on his or her own journey and emotional resilience mechanisms.

In normal times, preparing your return, reviewing your expectations as to know which ones might not be met, defining a routine you feel comfortable following prior to coming back, enrolling in projects and activities that stimulate you and are in adequation with who you now are and taking time to reconnect to those who stayed are useful tools to make the best of your journey back.

 

In times like these, one might be in search for a feeling of safety which one’s home country can provide if the process is handled with enough preparation and care. It is indeed the perfect time to reconnect and share your experience!

For those undertaking this journey, we wish all the best, and good health on the way!

Take time for yourself, your loved ones, and the projects you care about!