Tag Archives: New Visa Process

Applying for a #ChinaWorkVisa (#ZVisa) as an American

9 Nov

As many of you know, the rules for the Chinese Work Visa has changed a lot over the last year. This confusing and more complex system had three purposes:

  1. To simplify the process (at least that’s how the government proposed it)
  2. To sift through and minimize the number of fake diplomas, liars, and cheats getting through the system.
  3. To modernize their system in line with International Standards.

As someone currently going through this process, here is what I have learned so far. **Remember that this system is complex and new. The nuts and bolts haven’t been worked out yet. This is NOT a legal “What to Do” article or anything from a legal or professional perspective. I’m not a professional immigration lawyer or professional immigration / visa worker.  This is just an overview of MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE!  My experience may not be your experience. I highly recommend you speak with an agency for help if you need it.

JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES

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Chinese Consulate Juridiction

In the United States, there are five Chinese Consulates (Houston, New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago) and one Chinese Embassy (Washington, DC)

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Each Consulate and Embassy divides up jurisdiction over different states. Each state (except California) belongs to one Consulate or Embassy. California is special because the Northern Counties belong to the Consulate in San Francisco while the Southern belong to the Consulate in L.A.

Do you care? Yes! This is a very important concept for the Visa application process. 

I have actually already written about the whole pre-application process in another post over here.   Including an in-depth explanation of Document Authentication and what is required.

But here is a small overview again with more details under STEP 4 — actually applying for the VISA.

Step 1: Get Certain Documents “Authenticated” by the CORRECT Chinese Embassy in the US.

  • Criminal Background Check — A federal check will not suffice, you need a STATE or LOCAL police check.  I got mine from the Iowa State Criminal Background organziation, but I’m not sure where your’s would need to come from.  It cannot be older than 6 months. It should be from your last US residence — so if you lived in China for 4 years, it should be from your last US home.
  • Highest Degree Diploma

You will need to have both documents “certified” or “authenticated” by the Chinese Embassy that has jurisdiction over the ORIGIN of the document. So if your Diploma comes from the University of Virginia, it should go through the DC embassy.  If your background check comes from Florida, it should go through the Houston consulate.  My understanding is that DC may be able to authenticate ALL the documents since it is the official Embassy.  But you have to have the process done all the way through DC.  

If you have a document bound for DC, I recommend Roca Services. They got mine done within 10 days, although the others were quoting months.   If you are going somewhere else, I might recommend CVSC – I wasn’t thrilled with the Houston customer service and they take a few days to respond, but their Chicago service was pretty good.  

**For more information on how to get things authenticated, go here

Step 2. Collect all your documentation & Email photocopies to the Chinese Organization representing you

  1. Original Passport (with 8 months remaining and at least 2-3 pages empty)
  2. A Photocopy of your Passport.
  3. A Passport-Sized Color Photo of you. No smile. No hats or hair coverings. Stare straight ahead. Try to show your ears (**yes, this is a requirement I’ve run into — just do your best).
  4. Photocopy of Diploma & Certification from the Chinese Embassy
  5. Photocopy of Background Check & Certification from the Chinese Embassy
  6. Health Check from an approved institution.

Email photocopies and then mail or give the hard copies to the Chinese Organization you will be working for.

Step 3: Chinese Workplace will Apply for your Chinese Documents (Alien Work Permit)

You don’t have to do anything here, just wait. The Chinese workplace will do all this paperwork and later mail or email you the document.   The only thing is to make sure that the paperwork does not list the wrong consulate or Embassy as the “application location” and that it does not use the word “Chinese Embassy.”  If the document SAYS “Chinese Embassy” you will be forced to do your stuff in DC where the actual Embassy is.  If you are not from the DC jurisdiction area, they will make you do it all over again in the right jurisdiction with modified paperwork.  It takes about 20 days to get this part done.

Step 4: Collect the Documents You Will Need for the Application

For some reason, I was told I absolutely, 100% had to return to America to get my Chinese work visa.  Although the Chinese embassy in Seoul said they could process everything, the local provincial office said that would not be accepted. They demanded that I return home instead. However, I have a close friend who got his done in Thailand without going back to the States. I’m gonna go with “It depends on your province.”  Talk to your company very early on and see if you have to be in the States to do the application process or if you can get it done somewhere else that might be more convenient.  For me, it meant a special one-week mad dash on my holiday. 😦 

Also, once again that JURISDICTIONAL stuff comes in handy.  Because my legal residence is in Iowa, I was required to do the application process in Chicago. I would not be able to go anywhere else–I had to go to my jurisdiction. 

Anyway, you need:

  1. Original Passport
  2. Photocopy of Your Passport
    1. They gave this back to me and took their own copy. But bring one just in case.
  3. Passport Photo (2×2)
    1. Do not actually ATTACH this to the application. Just bring a loose copy. If they want it attached, they’ll glue it on.  
  4. China Visa Application – TYPED!
    1. It absolutely MUST be Typed.  They will not accept a written form.
    2. If you do not have an answer, type N/A instead of leaving it blank.
    3. For 1.9 – ID or Citizen #, you can include your Driver’s Licence #.
    4. For 1.15 – I put down my current employment status WITHOUT the job I was getting in China. For example, I was getting a work visa, but without that job I was UNEMPLOYED 
    5. For 1.17 – I typed “Last Employer” first and then put the Company Name of my last workplace.  Someone said you can leave it empty, but others say don’t. I just put “Last Employer – XXXXXX University”
    6. For 2.1 – I put down “Work” as my Primary Purpose of Visit.
    7. For 2.2 – I put down “One Entry valid for 3 Months from the date of issue.” Even if you requested more, this is all you would get for a Z Visa. So I chose Option 1.
    8. For 2.5 – I put down 365 days because that was the length of my work contract. 
    9. For 2.6 – I put down the address of the university and my contract dates on the first line.  I know that with tourist visas, you have to  do day by day. But for this one, I just put my address down with “XX/XX/XX to YY/YY/YY” 
    10. **For 2.5 and 2.6, I got the opinion that wasn’t terribly important to them. It’s more for tourist visas, so I wouldn’t worry too much. 
    11. For 2.7 – I put “Self-Supported”
    12. For 2.8 – I left it with N/A.  I did not need an inviter since I had the Work Permit. So I marked it N/A.  I was told that if you put the company down as an inviter, you would need to include the letter of invitation. It was not necessary for a Z Visa.  
  5. Your Work Permit from the Chinese workplace
  6. Any other documents you Chinese workplace provided.

Step 5: Apply for the Visa

Go to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate or your jurisdiction. I’ve been to a few in my time, and so far the process was ALWAYS the same (even in other countries).

You want to arrive about 15 minutes before the office opens. They almost all are only open a few hours in a day. They open later in the morning (sometimes 8am, but usually 8:30 or  9am — check the office’s website).  They’ll do the first wave. Then they’ll close for break at lunch and may be closed more than an hour.  They they’ll open for a few hours in the afternoon.  I’m gonna be honest, they aren’t GREAT about timing.  Although I was told to be there at 8:30am, the office “officially” opened at 9am — they just started the line at 8:30am.  And in reality, they started more around 9:10am.  Whatever is going on, it’s best to be as early as possible (definitely be there before the doors open).  It’ll pack out fast and stay full all day.  

You walk in the door and go to a machine to get your number.  If you need a passport photo, now is a good time to go get it.  It Chicago, there is also an office on the same floor who can help you print your application.  But the embassy will direct you to a different building outside, so don’t ask them for directions.  🙂  Sit in a chair and wait  your turn.

They aren’t known for friendliness in these offices. To be honest, I really hate talking to them. They are particularly bad about answering questions–I’ve never met one person there who was nice when I asked a question.  So avoid messing with them as much as possible.  Hand them the number and paperwork.  Wait while they see what needs to happen. Do whatever they tell you to do.  They’ll give you a receipt – KEEP IT!  YOU NEED IT TO GET YOUR PASSPORT BACK AND PROBABLY FOR REIMBURSEMENTS WITH THE COMPANY LATER.  

Notice there is no longer a ONE DAY SERVICE option offered at the Chicago Consulate. It might exist at others, but I wouldn’t count on it.  I know DC doesn’t have it anymore either, and I was told they do not do “Rush” either.  Chicago was still doing rush, but I found it more economical to do express service instead. Just one day more, but less $$.

On the appointed date (they’ll tell you when to come back), return to the office.  Check their times for “pick-up” — some of those times aren’t the same as the office hours.  Pay the person at the pick-up desk.  Many do not accept cash any more.  Some don’t accept credit cards. Try to read their website and see what they do before you come. If you aren’t sure, ask when you drop off your papers.  Chicago did not take cash, so I used my card. 

GET YOUR VISA & PASSPORT! 

Step 6: Get your Foreign Permit Card

Once you take your visa back to China, within 30 days they will take all your original documents — passports, diplomas, background checks, certifications, etc. and apply for a foreign permit card. Later you will be taken to the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) to apply.  They’ll take your photo and collect your passport again. After about 3 weeks, they return everything with the Foreign Residence Card.  Once you have that, you’re good!  Don’t forget to go to the local Police Station and register your residence! The school should help with that!

 

That’s It!

Document Authentication for the Chinese Work Visa (Z Visa)

28 Jul

As many of you know, the rules for the Chinese Work Visa has changed a lot over the last year. This confusing and more complex system had three purposes:

  1. To simplify the process (at least that’s how the government proposed it)
  2. To sift through and minimize the number of fake diplomas, liars, and cheats getting through the system.
  3. To modernize their system in line with International Standards.

As someone currently going through this process, here is what I have learned so far. **Remember that this system is complex and new. The nuts and bolts haven’t been worked out yet. My experience may not be your experience. I highly recommend you speak with an agency for help if you need it.

JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES

930312d9-d0e3-4657-9ff9-74bfc8a5bf37.png

Chinese Consulate Juridiction

In the United States, there are five Chinese Consulates (Houston, New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago) and one Chinese Embassy (Washington, DC)

download.png

Each Consulate and Embassy divides up jurisdiction over different states. Each state (except California) belongs to one Consulate or Embassy. California is special because the Northern Counties belong to the Consulate in San Francisco while the Southern belong to the Consulate in L.A.

Do you care? Yes! This is a very important concept for the Visa process.

Step 1: Document Authentication

This is the step that is killing everyone in a horrible, confusing, bewildering maze of rules that don’t work and steps that can’t be done.

Here’s what is happening (so far as I can tell):

You must have an ORIGINAL copy of your Highest Degree Diploma and a Police background check from your last state of residence (**If you have been living in China, just go back to the last place of residence before China). A federal background check does not suffice. If you have been living in China, get one from your last US residence. A photocopy of your diploma will not suffice. It must be originals. TIP: You can get the diplomas from your university, but they usually don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell them you want the “Notarized Copy of a Diploma given to people taking Certification and Board Exams.” The copy that the Chinese Government wants is the same thing that people give to all the Medical, Accounting, and professional offices when they take the professional exams. It is an official diploma notarized by the county clerk there. Usual cost is about $10-$15. It takes about 1 week to mail to you.

PROCESS OF AUTHENTICATION: The rules for certification at each jurisdiction can be different. Application forms, the processes — the Chinese embassies and consulates are not always the same on how to get the documents certified. Visit the website of your Chinese office to ask what exactly is required before they will look at it. In general, the process has 3-4 steps:

  1. Notarized by a State Notary. I find the easiest way to do this is simply to tell the school or state that you need a “notarized” document when you ordered the originals. For both my diploma and state police search, I requested a “notarized” version and they sent me that. If you get one that is NOT notarized yet, you should go to a bank and ask them to notarize it for you. It must be notarized in the state where it came from! Not just any state notary will do!
  2. The Secretary of State must Authenticate the Original Document. For some, this means a stamp – for others they will staple an extra stamped / signed paper on the back of your document. DO NOT remove any staples or anything once the State has handled the document. Just leave it alone. To find out how to get your state to authenticate the documents, click here. In some states, they will give you an Apostille (similar but only used for certain countries). In others, they are giving you a “Certificate of Authentication” which is slightly different. Follow their rules to see which one you need from them. It must be authenticated in the state where it came from!
  3. If your document came from Delaware, District of Colombia, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming you get to have an extra step! Yay! These documents have to also pass inspection with the Department of Authentication in Washington, DC. The link to their instructions is here. You can either mail your document in (what they recommend) or set up a walk-in appointment (only for emergency cases). You should probably call ahead and make sure you qualify as an emergency case. Otherwise, you”ll waste your trip (like a friend of mine did). Many DC agencies who process Chinese visas will also help you do this step for a fee 🙂
  4. Certified by the Correct Chinese Embassy or Consulate. This process varies from place to place. Please visit the website of the proper location for their specific instructions. **Remember this is according to where the document originated, not where you live! For example, I have a University Diploma from a college in Virginia. Even though I am an Iowa resident, this document came from a Virginia school and was notarized in Virginia. So it MUST go through the Washington DC embassy. On the other hand, my Iowa background check has to be certified at the Chicago consulate. Confusing and requires a lot of travel and mailing plans. Also costly.
    1. Washington DC.
    2. Chicago
    3. Houston
    4. LA
    5. New York
    6. San Francisco

When you get your certification, DO NOT MESS WITH IT AT ALL!  Do not unstaple it, do not fiddle with it.  Put it immediately as in into a folder and give it to the company for their process.

 

**Twice I was told that this process could be simplified if I just asked the US Embassy or Consulate in China to sign the papers. I was repeatedly told by the Chinese officials that this could be done. So I made a trip to Beijing — It was not true. 😦 According to the US official at the embassy “This is because China doesn’t understand America. They think the embassy can do everything. We don’t.” The US embassy & consulates in China will only sign or authenticate foreign documents being used in the USA. Not American documents used abroad. Hard & Expensive lesson learned.

Step 2. Collect all your documentation & Email photocopies to the Chinese Organization representing you

  1. Original Passport (with 8 months remaining and at least 2-3 pages empty)
  2. A Photocopy of your Passport.
  3. A Passport-Sized Color Photo of you. No smile. No hats or hair coverings. Stare straight ahead. Try to show your ears (**yes, this is a requirement I’ve run into — just do your best).
  4. Photocopy of Diploma & Certification from the Chinese Embassy
  5. Photocopy of Background Check & Certification from the Chinese Embassy
  6. Health Check — A health check done within the last 6 months at an approved institution.  If you do it in the States, the office should provide you with a form they want filled out to make sure you get checked for everything.  I did it in China and had to get it from the Provincial approved Zhengzhou Foreign Hospital, on the list of approved sites. Ask your company where you should have yours done.

The Chinese University / Workplace will have to do a bunch of work online to set everything up first. That’s why they need photocopies right now, not the originals.

Step 3: Chinese Workplace will Apply for your Chinese Documents (Alien Work Permit)

You don’t have to do anything here, just wait. The Chinese workplace will do all this paperwork and later mail or email you the document.

Step 4: Apply for your Visa

So, according to my university — the foreign expert bureau requires you to actually EXIT America on this visa. So you can apply for the visa through an Agency but you still have to get it in America and fly to China directly with it. No third countries in the middle allowed. I’m not sure this is true for everyone (I don’t really get the point of it), but that is what I’m told. For example, I’m in China but apparently have to leave the country, go to the US for a week while they do the visa application process, get it, then fly back to China directly.

***I haven’t actually done this step yet – I’ll let you know what was required as soon as I do. But I have asked about it, and this is based on what I was told.

Anyway, you need:

  1. Original Passport
  2. Photocopy of Your Passport
  3. Passport Photo (2×2)
  4. China Visa Application – TYPED!
  5. Your Work Permit from the Chinese workplace
  6. Any other documents you Chinese workplace provided.

Go to the Chinese embassy, drop off your papers, wait. Pay and pick it up when it’s ready!

Step 5: Get your Foreign Permit Card

Once you take your visa back to China, within 30 days they will take all your original documents — passports, diplomas, background checks, certifications, etc. and apply for a foreign permit card. Once you have that, you can go back to traveling within China.

Step 6: Get your Foreign Residence Card

The school will apply for this for you. It takes about 20 days to receive.

That’s It!

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