Once again, we needed to go to the immigration office to extend my visa yesterday afternoon. This time, Justin had classes so I had to go with two Chinese women from our school’s administration department. For just a simple tourist extension, I needed to have $3,000 in my own Chinese bank account (Who could possibly need $100 per day to live in China!?) , our marriage certificate, a letter from the school saying that Justin is employed there, application forms, and a registration certificate from our nearest police station.
Whenever a person comes to China, they need to register at their closest police station, and if you are staying at a hotel/ hostel, you need to show your passport in order to check in. Even while we had residency permits, during our first year in China, we could not travel nationally without a passport. There is no denying the obvious Communist ways here ~ The government wants to know where you are at all times!!
My school needs to give me two documents in order to allow me to apply for my work (Z) visa. We are still waiting on one of those papers. In the meantime, my tourist visa is about to expire, so I therefore had to extend by another 30 days (my second extension).
This sure is the most complicated visa process I have ever experienced! Interestingly enough, my first work visa for China, in 2011, was the easiest that I ever had! No complications, and no hiccups. This time we seem to be running into every possible bump in the road.
Once the school has both my necessary documents in hand, I will mail them to Cape Town so that the Chinese Embassy can issue my visa there. When my passport gets back to China, I will have to leave the country, and probably fly to the nearest/ cheapest location ~ Seoul, South Korea. Soon after that I can re-enter China on my work visa. That should be the end of the “ma fan” (trouble), right? Well, no!! We have been told that I may subsequently have issues acquiring a residency permit. AGAIN, I had no issues before, but the school foresees issues this time. Apparently, coming from Africa (yes, the entire continent of Africa) means that I am currently not in Qingdao’s good books. MAYBE the fact that I am married to royalty (ie. an American citizen) will mean that I am slightly less of a threat. *Sarcastic Tone*
I have never needed a criminal record check in China, and neither do any of the other nationalities working here. However, we have been informed that I may need one for my residency permit. I actually do have one right now, but it was issued on December 20th, 2012, and since they are only valid for 6 months, mine will “expire” by the time I need to show it for my residency permit. Again, this was never a requirement before, but for some reason, I need it now! GO FIGURE ~ It expires a few days before they will PERHAPS ask for it, and it will take me another two months to get a new one from South Africa.
We are experiencing a great deal of frustration with regards to language barriers. One of the women in administration keeps calling to say that we MUST have certain documents IMMEDIATELY, or in a couple weeks. In English, “must” implies that without it our application will not be processed. It turns out that to her, “must” means “it may be an added bonus IF you have it”. Needless to say, we have grown tired of the ma fan, and have learnt not to take what she says too seriously. Whether she is exaggerating, or this is merely a language gap, it is not worth the unnecessary stress to take what we hear to heart. We have the documents that we have ~ The visa will either be issued or denied. We have no control over these things.
We should have another visa update in a week of two.
Thanks for the emails checking in on us. We appreciate it!