BEIJING (AFP) - China is considering its first immigration law following a surge in the number of foreigners seeking to take advantage of the booming economy in the worlds most populous nation, state press said Saturday. Preparations are underway for a first draft of the law which would likely divide potential immigrants into categories such as skilled or unskilled workers and job and investor immigration, Xinhua news agency said. Judging from the history of Western developed countries, inward migration flows often reveal the appeal of a nation, the report quoted Zhang Jijiao, of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the China Academy of Social Sciences, as saying. But to have a stronger appeal and competitiveness in the global arena, a nation must properly resolve social and economic issues arising from immigration. No timetable for the law was given. According to the Ministry of Public Security, about 2.85 million people, or more than 10 percent of the 26 million foreigners who entered China in 2007, came for employment, the report said. That year, of the nearly 539,000 foreigners who lived in China for more than six months, more than half were workers at joint ventures and solely foreign-owned companies or were family members of such employees, it said. Although overall figures have yet to be updated, local statistics have projected a trend of more foreigners staying in China for longer periods. In December, Chinas largest city Shanghai announced a foreign population of 152,000 people, a 14 percent increase year-on-year. In Beijing, the number was 110,000 in 2008, while in southern Guangdong, where an African community is emerging, the foreign population was nearly 58,000 people in the first half of 2009, it said. In Chinas upcoming population census, to begin in November, foreign residents will be surveyed for the first time in an effort to give experts and policy-makers more data on immigration trends, the report said.