Beijing: To attract skilled foreign talent, China has decided to give unified work permit to foreigners. The move will combine China's two current foreigner work permits into one. According to a Chinese government report released in 2015, there were some 848,500 foreign residents in China in 2013. "The unification eliminates the replicated application hurdle and improves communication, aiming to better serve overseas talent coming to work in China," government official Zhang Jianguo was quoted as saying by the Chinese media. Under the current system, foreigners can apply for either of two types of work permits -- an employment license for foreigners issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security or a foreign expert work permit provided by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. Zhang said the reform also aims to attract more highly skilled foreigners and those in demand to help with China's development. "An identification card is an excellent choice and is overdue," said Donald Guadagni, who teaches English at Ningbo City College of Vocational Technology. "The issuance of this type of credential would be welcomed by many foreigners as it could serve as an alternate State-issued ID for the purpose of in-country travel, railways and banking services," he said. "Legally, it is pretty hard to tell which category an applicant belongs to," said Liu Guofu, a professor of immigration law at the Beijing Institute of Technology. "For example, if a foreign specialist from Microsoft applies for a work permit in China, is he an expert or not?" Liu said, adding the current rule can be confusing for foreigners. "The old rule is more likely a product of a planned economy and the new one is market-driven," he said. A trial will get underway in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin municipalities as well as in Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region beginning in October, according to the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, which leads the reform. The reform will be implemented nationwide in April, the administration said.