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    Shanghai Offers Hassle-Free ‘Hukou’ to City’s Postgraduates

    The new program is part of the city's plan to attract and retain talent.

    Shanghai is using its much sought-after household registration document known as the hukou to convince local graduates to work and stay in the city, as the country’s financial hub seeks to attract more talent for a post-lockdown recovery.

    Fresh postgraduate students from Shanghai’s 30 colleges and universities, as well as all research institutions, with full-time employment contracts from qualified employers will be offered a Shanghai hukou without any conditions, local authorities announced Tuesday. Previously, only those with a master’s degree from elite Chinese universities were able to immediately obtain a hukou in the megacity.

    In China, a hukou is linked to one’s birthplace and grants access to certain social welfare benefits and public services, such as medical care and education, and even property purchases. Obtaining the document in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai is usually tricker, as they’re based on a points system that takes an individual’s education and profession into consideration.

    Last year, 73,128 out-of-towners received a Shanghai hukou through the points-based or talent program, up 132% from 2020, according to data from the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau. However, they accounted for merely 0.7% of the more than 10.3 million Shanghai residents without a local hukou.

    Shanghai has been working on ways to expand its talent pool by lowering the threshold for graduates to secure a hukou since 2020. In 2020, the city allowed fresh undergraduates from four of the city’s top universities — Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Tongji University, and East China Normal University — to directly apply for a hukou.

    Li Maolin, who completed his undergraduate degree at Tongji University in 2021 and joined a top luxury company in Shanghai last March, told Sixth Tone that he spent over half a year preparing documents and applying for a local hukou under the relaxed policy.

    “The process went smoothly,” he said. “I haven’t seen any extra benefits from it yet though. But as there is such a policy, why not apply for it?”

    Tuesday’s announcement also allows fresh undergraduates from 15 local leading universities and colleges who work in some suburban districts — including Jiading, Qingpu, Songjiang, and Fengxian — to directly apply for a hukou. A previous policy announced in late 2021 only included postgraduate students.

    Earlier this month, Shanghai also announced it would grant a hukou immediately to Chinese graduates from the world’s top 50 universities who have full-time jobs in the city after graduation.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: VCG)