Beginning from Friday, migrants were allowed to apply for a Shanghai Residence Card.
The policy change came as a new residence management rule went into effect on a pilot basis on October 1, which lifted restrictions on migrant applicants.
Four areas - including a zone around Jing'an Temple, Zhabei District's Daning Road, Sitang area and Luojing Town in suburban Baoshan District - were selected as pilot areas for migrants to apply for the card.
Card holders are entitled to the same benefits as locals. This includes social security insurance programs and entering children into schools for compulsory education.
Hu Weiguo, a local who came for information for a migrant friend, said the change is big news.
"Migrants are sensitive to news closely connected with their own rights and benefits," Hu said, adding that the equal education opportunity for children was the most appealing benefit for his Gansu Province friend.
Previously, only highly-skilled professional migrants such as engineers and senior managers qualified for a residence card.
According to the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission, the policy could be extended to the entire city by the year end.
Under the new rule, migrants with a steady job or residence in the city were allowed to apply for a residence card. The card costs 25 yuan (US$3.01) and will take about 40 days to be approved.
People on short-term business or study trips and visitors do not need to apply for the card.
The new policy triggered great interest from migrants in the city.
At Jing'an Temple community service center, more than 40 people inquired about the residence card yesterday. Only two qualified as most people have not prepared all the necessary materials. At the Daning Road community service center, only 12 out of hundreds of applicants were successful.
(Shanghai Daily October 9, 2004)