Z Visa or
Work Permit Processing (September 2010)
|We have just received news that
some Chinese employers are failing to process the Z
visa application paperwork within 30-days.
Please ensure you have a current and valid visa at all
times, regardless of Z visa processing!
This loophole came to our attention on 20th September
2010, when a friend of ours was stopped in Guangzhou
for a routine visa check by Police. Guangzhou has a
serious problem with illegal immigrants, so do not expect
this elsewhere in China.
Our friend, let's call him John Wayne, was hired for
the academic year 2010/2011 by a leading Guangdong University.
He started his Z visa application in the USA, and arrived
in China with an interim Z visa, equivalent to a 30-day
tourist visa, which is a special temporary travel document
allowing him to enter China. The 30-day limit is regarded
as being enough time to process the application paperwork
to completion. He entered China 1-week early to settle
his affairs and move into university provided accommodation.
He had already lived in China and worked for a different
University previously, so already had one Z visa in
his passport. His contract details were suitably honoured,
and he began teaching at the start of September.
He attended the Entry and Exit department office and
handed over his paperwork, which was all in order. The
issue of a z visa is quite complicated for those involved,
as many government departments have checks and input.
The employer also has to be licensed to employ foreigners,
and this is one of the numerous checks.
From the applicants point of view the work visa application
process is carried out on their behalf as seemingly
one smooth paperwork exercise. One aspect of this is
the issuance of the 'Foreign Experts Certificate', which
is required to qualify for the work permit. Another
aspect is the submission of a recent and official Chinese
medical check. However,
to John Wayne this was all being handled by the University
once his paperwork was processed and accepted - basically
it all just needed checking, certificates issued, and
he was done.
This was being overseen by the Foreign Affairs Department,
who were not going to take any action until there was
a problem. Note; future tense. Knowing that there was
going to be a problem was not sufficient incentive for
the person concerned to start taking action before the
problem became a reality!
Everything was moving smoothly, so what can go wrong?
Stop and Check
John had a lot of new things to deal with, teaching
schedules, new university, Chinese girlfriend, moving
into his new digs, etc .Therefore one day whilst he
was out in Guangzhou with his Chinese girlfriend, he
was not bothered when stopped by the local Police and
asked to show his passport - it was a routine visa check.
Well, he only had a copy of his passport and visa, because
the real article was back at his home. A teacher from
Zhuhai had told him this would be fine. Apparently it
was not fine with Guangzhou Police!
Neither had he registered with the local police for
a Certificate of Temporary Residency (CRT), as this
is not required as a separate item when processing/obtaining
a Z visa - it is all a part of the whole package. Our
information is that the original CTR Form is the only
acceptable alternative to carrying your passport with
you at all time - but we may be proved wrong?
Guangzhou PSB detained him on the street for 30 minutes
for further investigation, as to them he did not have
the proper documents on him, or any appropriate receipts.
The Police action is quite justified in this case, and
they acted properly throughout their investigation -
which John Wayne concurs with. They were just doing
their job, and rightly so.
When Things Go Wrong
Now our story takes an unexpected twist, because when
the administrators concerned are contacted by PSB to
confirm John's credentials, they have no record of John's
Z visa application!
The main Foreign Affairs liaison is then contacted,
who confirms that John is bona fide visitor
to China, and that his paperwork is duly in process.
Unfortunately, it appears that the junior administrator
processing his paperwork - simply lost his file!
This in turn means that his Z visa application has to
be re-started from scratch. Consequently, John finds
himself as a guest of Guangzhou Police, 5-days over
his 30-day temporary visa stay allowance, and liable
for immediate incarceration, hefty fine, or deportation
However, the PSB do not have a heavy hand, but do stick
to their rules. It became apparent that John's 'Foreign
Experts Certificate' would be issued the next day, and
this would allow him to stay (Probably via local PSB
visa extension). But this was not the next day, so the
situation required a different solution.
Mr Wayne was given an official warning only, fined Y50
on the spot (For not carrying his passport with him),
and required to get a tourist visa - which was immediately
actioned by the PSB. This would be backdated to the
expiry of his old visa. During the process he was reunited
with his passport (His girlfriend went and got it),
and arrangements were made for a temporary L or tourist
visa to be ready for collection in Guangzhou 5 (working)
days time = 26th September. He has no idea what conditions
will be attached to this visa = length of stay, number
of entries, etc.
However, they cannot restart the Z visa application
process in Guangzhou, so John will then have to travel
to Hong Kong to apply for a new and temporary Z visa,
so as to re-initiate proceeding. This time he will be
asking for copies of all forms and receipts!
1. A warning for visa overstay does count as an official
overstay - but there were many extenuating circumstances
in this stupid litany.
2. It remains your personal responsibility to check
whether you have a valid Chinese visa, and take appropriate
action before the visa expires. This is your call!
3. Get an official receipt whenever you officially hand
over your passport, or initiate visa processing within
4. Do not presume that your visa application will not
5. It is Chinese law that you must carry a valid ID
on you at all times.
This was a minor thing, and Guangzhou PSB did their
job well. Remember Guangzhou is hosting a world-wide
event this month (The Asia Games), so security is being
tightened ahead of it, and rightly so. Also note that
most of the venues are actually within Foshan City,
so expect similar checks there also.
We will of course update you on John Wayne's story as
soon as we know the final outcome - hopefully the proper
processing of his Z visa.
Meanwhile rest assured that your home country's Embassy
or Consulate will have absolutely no interest in your
predicament - they can't even be bothered to offer you
appropriate visa advice, so why bother to interrupt
their inner-circle club of tax-funded gratuities and
what amounts to an extended Chinese holiday.
We leave this with John Wayne to sum this up the fiasco
in his own words:
" I was blamed, by the government, for this problem....
The school remained quiet about it. The fine I had to
pay (50 RMB) was for carrying a photocopy of my passport
and visa, and not the actual passport. The overstay
is a different matter.
I am confused about this process. I am hoping there
will be clarity once I get through this.... "
You may wish to note that John was penalised for overstaying
his visa, by being given an official warning only. Normally
this is a Y5K fine. He was fined for not carrying his
passport (or valid ID).
You have 30 days grace when working as a teacher before
you have to have a Z visa or other work permit. We conclude
that John was still within this time-frame, and that
having a Z visa in due process will not leave you liable
to later prosecution for tax evasion or working illegally?
However, we do not know.
|We are also very interested
to hear from others who apply for this new visa.
|Please bear in mind, that keeping all your legal documentation up to date should be a priority wherever you plan to travel outside the country. No one wants their dream trip to Disneyland in California to end with a call to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer or immigration attorney to resolve a legal problem.
information is as supplied by China Expats and friends
as dated 20th September 2010. Please check this information
yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst
we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not
hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended
as a simple guide only
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