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Looking for help with visa process


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I am an American citizen living in Arizona and aspiring to teach in China as soon as I can (hopefully in the next 2 months). I am trying to avoid any further delays in the process so any help, insight, tips, or advise would be much appreciated. Sorry if this is a bit lengthier than average but I want to avoid misunderstandings! FWIW I am 30, white, native English speaker born in the USA.


I graduated with my Bachelors (Liberal Arts) a few days ago. I haven't received the diploma yet but I should any day this week. I have an active passport but it only has 18 months validity remaining. I have read that you need 6 months remaining before it expires although now I am reading that you need 6 months remaining after the estimated date of return. Which is the case? I don't currently have any plans to return and hope to enjoy China enough to stay for quite some time. Does this mean I need to renew my passport before getting a visa since by the time I leave I will have less than 18 months? If I have to renew the passport, am I unable to apply for a job? Will the passport number be different in the new book and is that required for them to start the paperwork on their end to get me the invitation letter? The passport does not have any stamps in it.


I am living and working in Arizona now (Arizona drivers license) but I recently (July) moved here from Colorado. Neither state has a consulate and the servicing consulates are in Las Angeles (For Arizona) and Chicago (for Colorado). Am I correct in assuming I need to use the one in LA since that is where I currently live? Their website says that they do not accept visa applications by mail. Am I required to physically go to the LA consulate or am I able to use a 3rd party visa provider? If so, how do they work since I would be mailing my particulars to them. Do they have a special relationship with the consulate? 


One of the visa requirements is an FBI background check although I am reading that they can take up to 4 months to process. A few 3rd party "channelers" claim to be able to provide the same service in as little as 1 business day (for a fee which I don't mind). I've seen a few referenced directly from the FBI's website. Would there be any problems with the visa process if I were to use one? How current does the clearance need to be? I have no record other than a few minor speeding tickets which I doubt would show up on their database. If the consulate does accept FBI background checks through a channeler, is there anything special about them I should know? 


I've read a few mixed requirements about my degree. I've seen it listed that I just need a photocopy of my degree, a 2nd, original copy of my degree, and also a 2nd original copy of my degree that has to be signed by the department of state. What steps should I be taking to prepare my degree for them? The few 3rd party visa processing agencies I have looked at do not mention me needing to send my degree to them. At what point does this come into play?


As far as the invitation letter, does that get mailed to me or the consulate? Are emailed or faxed invitations acceptable or does it have to be snail mailed?


I've also read that the 2 years post baccalaureate experience is waived with a TEFL certificate and that, while online certificates are generally worthless, they will satisfy this requirement. If that is correct, does anyone know of a dirt cheap online program to use?


I appreciate you reading through my wall of text and any insightful comments that are offered =)

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I can only help you a little bit, but will do what I can.


1.  >>"Will the passport number be different in the new book and is that required for them to start the paperwork on their end to get me the invitation letter?"


A new passport will have a new number. I got one last year. They return the old one to you after cancelling it and clearly marking it void. When you travel to China, suggest taking both since some paperwork may have your old number.


2. >>"Am I correct in assuming I need to use the one in LA since that is where I currently live?"


Yes. No flexibility on that issue.


3. >>"Am I required to physically go to the LA consulate or am I able to use a 3rd party visa provider? If so, how do they work since I would be mailing my particulars to them. Do they have a special relationship with the consulate?"


Use a visa service. Send things to them by FedEx or UPS with a tracking number. See their website for details. Do a Google search for several and then read reviews.


Others with experience as teachers in China can help you with other parts of your inquiry. By the way, if you are just getting your Bachelor's degree at age 30, you doubtless have some sort of special circumstances and they might need explaining.

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Baby Charlie

1. Renew your passport as it is a big pain in the ass to do here in China.

2. You seem to be in a big hurry to get here and I am wondering why? Why do you want to teach English in China?

3. TEFL certification, you can do it online for a few hundred dollars at www.tefl.com but be careful as many universities will not take an online certificate, they want you to actually do the 4 week course in residence.

4. Bring a sealed copy of your transcripts to prove that you do have a degree, easy enough!

5. Your employer will mail you the documents; mine were sent by private courier and in Seattle in less than 10 days. I was living and working in Germany, so that I had time for stuff to get to my mothers in Seattle.

6. I used a private visa expediting company and it was delayed due to a snow storm. I missed my original flight to Beijing and had to hang around for another week. The cost for the service was about $400.00 and I had to absorb the cost of the original plane ticket of $1,500.

7. I brought 5 grand with me so that I would not experience cash flow issues and have to stay in a bad situation or make bad decisions due to being broke. You will not get your first paycheck for a month or two or maybe longer, and depending on your job, you may have a place to live, you may have to find one on your own.

8. Be prepared to hit the ground running! I got off the plane at 4 pm on Sunday and at 8 am the next morning was on the Beijing subway trying to figure out where the hell my school was. I did not make it and ended up at Starbucks, and my new coworker had a nuclear meltdown! She last less than 10 days and went home! I quit 2 weeks later due to bait and switch on my contract. I ended up teaching at Berlitz in Beijing as I had already rented an apartment!

9. China is hard, it is such a different culture and the mindset is totally different than anything I have ever experienced.

10. Google your new employer and if there are warnings and scathing reviews, they are probably true!!

11. Be prepared to work 7 days a week, 13 hour days and have new classes thrown at you or schedule changes with no more than 5 minutes notice. If you are flexible and a let it go type of person, you will be fine, but if you are not, bring valium, you will need it!

12. Health, I hope you are healthy as medicine here is dangerous. The doctors are poorly trained and if bad medicine doesn't get you, the lack of infection control will! Also, most medicine is counterfeit so no need to even take it! We have a saying here amongst expats “You don't go to the hospital when you get sick but to the airport", this is so true. It is even harder for me as I was married to a pathologist for 10 years so I know enough about medicine to be dangerous!

13. Contracts signed by non-Chinese citizens have very little if any recourse, so be careful and really think it through before you get on the plane.

14. Your expenses getting here: I had to pay for a full physical and the doctor would not sign the forms unless I got all the vaccinations that the CDC recommends for China. The cost of a plane ticket here and all visa expenses here and in the states. You should get reimbursed when you complete your contract but you will probably not get every penny back.

15. Housing, strongly encourage you to only take a job that provides housing. Signing a housing contract in a foreign language is not advisable plus you will have to set up utilities and internet. Many landlords will want 3-6 months’ rent in advance and that can be a lot of cash to lay out before you have even established goodness of fit on your new job!

Final thought: Be aware that teaching English in China is a billion dollar industry that is ruthless and cut throat. I have been working for 40 years and one of the worst jobs I have ever had was teaching children in Jiamusi, China. The owner of the storefront school was a heartless, greedy, lying bitch. I have never worked so hard for so little! I am now a university instructor and I love my job and my schools students! It is one of the easiest jobs I have ever had! So all the pain and suffering of working for Ivy International School was worth it! Good luck but do not make this decision lightly!


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Halo.. i am a doctor from Pakistan and has come for 6 months in china as visiting scholar on x2 visa. My professor wants me to stay for 1 month benoynd my deadline of visa as there is an important academic activity for which he can help me whatever is legal way. So how to extend my visa without going back to pakistan.

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