Visa Paperwork……


by Professor Fury

Please note that the following is in no way intended to be anything other than an anecdotal and empirical summary of the whirlwind that will engulf you once you are at your school. All of it is true but your experience may differ slightly – but only slightly. Hopefully.

There are many things that need to be done to transform the teacher cocoon who was just last night wined and dined with the finest Moutai and the best pigs intestines in town and made to feel “one of the gang” into the ESL butterfly in China. Sorry to say this (and please always remember these articles are purely my personal opinions and not Hioffer’s) but even if you remain in China for the next 50 years and speak fluent Putonghua you will never be one of the gang. It is something that continues to mystify me.

In  my country I had Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Croatian, Slovakian, Polish etc friends who I regarded as one of the gang. Maybe that’s just me. But the Chinese in my country were one of two things: they were Anglicised or they were stubbornly Chinese. I liked both but as for going to the pub for a night out I chose the former. I honestly believe that the Chinese find it impossible to integrate fully with a westerner in China and it has to be said, vice-versa. There is a yawning chasm that is the culture divide and if you want to know just how wide it is marry a Chinese national! You marry the entire family. No I haven’t in case you are wondering but there have been occasions I would have, notwithstanding!

Anyway, back on topic.

Probably first there is the medical. Oh yes, you may have paid hundreds of dollars in the USA or like me £20 to your GP in the UK to have tests carried out as per the form you were sent (or in my case just get the GP to tick or write “not indicated” where necessary). It wouldn’t matter if the tests were carried out at Cedars Sinai hospital for $5,000, you will still need to be tested again at a Chinese quarantine hospital. Your assistant, probably female, will walk you through the tests including the one where you take your top off. You may even experience random members of the public simply walking into rooms where you are being examined and they will interrupt the nurse or doctor. This is China.


Hopefully first they will ask for urine, then take three blood samples. ECG then the ultrasound to check for pregnancy or in most foreigners’ case to simply declare you have a “fatty liver”. I have yet to meet a laowei they have not said that about. Chest x-ray and if you are lucky you are done. Pre-existing condition? As long as you don’t have HIV or are in the middle of a myocardial infarction you should be fine. For more than half my life I have been on medication for hypertension and gout and I pass every time. Don’t panic. Medicines or their generic equivalents are available over the counter here.

So medical complete, the next thing is your new permit. I cannot speak with any authority on this as mine has only just been applied for. Everything changed on June 1st so the foreign expert certificate and residence permit were merged  into a new foreigners ID, allegedly with the same rights as Chinese citizens. Time will tell if this is true. If my experience is anything to go by the foreign affairs dept at your school will need all your documents and qualifications so they can complete an online application (this does not negate the need to eventually appear at the police station apparently, which seems rather counter-productive). You will also need to obtain an e-photo which must conform to very strict sizing guidelines which not every computer place can handle. It took me four attempts to find one but it only cost 25 yuan and I did get 4 hard copy printouts as well. Always advisable to have passport photos with you in China, every form needs one!

Once all that is done, forget about the medical but keep a weather eye on when the others expire  and ensure that if you stay for a second year the school starts the renewal process early enough. As of today I am unsure whether my passport needs to go away for the newfangled documents. I see no reason why it should but if it is no different to last year then you could be bereft for a few weeks. That means you can’t fly out of the country. I will update when I know, I am legal until September 7th.

Next on Professor Fury: The students

About the Author 

He is in his early sixties and has been teaching in universities in China for seven years. He has been a ships officer, salesman, manager, company director, engineer and truck driver in the past  and so has a wealth of stories and experience to impart to his students.

He has been to 47 countries so far and visited more than 400 cities around the globe. Antarctica is the only continent he has yet to experience but there is still time!

He has so far volunteered at every school level in China, appeared on television several times (including taking part in a Spring Festival Gala show) and his ambition is to be allowed to retire in China when the time comes. His latest party piece is playing Santa for whoever asks!

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