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Changing visa from a fake degree to a real one

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My friend is in a bit of a situation, and I’m looking for someone who knows quite a bit about the intricacies of work visas in China to answer this!


He came to China about 3 years ago, not really knowing anything about legalities, China or visas. He has a degree, but for some reason, didn't have it handy at the time of going to China. Rather than waiting until he had it in his hands (the sensible option), he took the advice of the school (not sensible) and came anyway, without a degree.


When he arrived, he asked his uni to send him his degree to his new address in China. Anyway, for various reasons, before it could eventually make its way to him, the school convinced him to go to the PSB with them, using a fake degree that they made, and he got his work permit and residence permit. I assume money was exchanged or someone was friends with someone... Not quite sure what went on.


Anyway, three years later he is still at the same school, under the same degree. Very happy in China. However, this situation is not exactly ideal as the school (as you can imagine) are pretty rubbish, don't give medical insurance or pay properly. Unfortunately, because if his naivety back then he is kind of stuck. Kind of his own fault, but its also the school’s fault as he didn’t really know what he was doing and trusted them I guess. Anyway, its done now.


My question is: If he were to get his real degree into his hands, could he use it to transfer to a different employer if his school added his real degree to his visa?

Does anyone know what his options might be? 

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My gut reaction is that your friend is in an exceptionally dicey situation. Forging documents is serious business in the eyes of the PSB. He could easily find himself deep in hot water.


In the West, we'd of course usually advise he find a skilled and well-connected lawyer in this field. But China's different. You just can't count on a Chinese lawyer being much help when you're in trouble. And guilty, to boot.


So where does that leave your friend? If he's relatively risk averse and doesn't want to face the possibility of real trouble in his life, then he may have to face instead building the next stage of his career in safety outside China.


(Not sure how all this happened, though. I thought that for years all diplomas have had to be legalised through a Chinese embassy or consulate.)

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Jan Finster
5 hours ago, Ciara said:

When he arrived, he asked his uni to send him his degree to his new address in China. Anyway, for various reasons, before it could eventually make its way to him, the school convinced him to go to the PSB with them, using a fake degree that they made, and he got his work permit and residence permit. I assume money was exchanged or someone was friends with someone... Not quite sure what went on.


I do not know if the company genuinely wanted to help out or if they deliberately used this tactic to make sure your friend can never legally work elsewhere..!?



1) Rather than changing the fake degree to a different (real) one. Is there an option to add the real degree. Why can you not have 2 degrees?

2) Changing jobs using the fake degree as credential (?)

3) Staying with the company for now and leaving China as 889 suggested once it become unbearable. 


The last thing I would ever want is to get into legal trouble in China...


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Take a year out and do a master's degree. 


The degree cert you get legalised and apostilled for a visa application is the highest level one. 

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Thanks for the replies. Yes, 889 it sounds pretty serious to me too, actually I was surprised it happened as I’ve read that things have got stricter in the last couple of years, but seems this kind of thing is still happening! I also thought visa runs to HK weren’t possible but they did that with him too...


Jan, thanks for the option ideas. No. 2 is not possible, already looked into it.


I would like to know if no. 1 is possible though, anyone have any experience of this?

Getting a job transfer on a different degree than their first one (and not leaving China and starting the visa process all over)?

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No experience myself, so just some thoughts: There are (or have been, at least) loads of people who teach in China illegally, usually on a student visa and often enough with no degree or without the right passport. I assume that a decent number of them eventually move on to teaching legally. So how do they do it? Perhaps just go to the new school with their new degree in hand and the new school doesn't ask too many questions?

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Yes, that’s true, a lot of people have done it from what I’ve read... I guess I was hoping to hear from someone here has managed to resolve the same kind of situation!

He actually was offered another job, same city, However, when he told them about this, they said they couldn’t do a visa transfer on his fake degree. Maybe it could be done from scratch (not sure he didn’t ask) but they can’t transfer his visa in this situation.

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It's difficult for any of us to know for sure.


However, my feeling is that he should just try to get a new job with his legitimate certificate. I very much doubt the new and old certificates will ever be compared, and if the situation does arise, he can just say he was not aware of the fake certificate - after all, it was the school that did it, right? I mean, he could just "surmise" that the school must have got impatient waiting for his real certificate and taken the matter into their own hands. It's not like he faked actually having a degree.


Nevertheless, if the authorities find out, they essentially could do whatever they want. Rules don't seem to be applied consistently.

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Yes, this might be a way. However, it sounds like he would have to go back to his country (Uk) though, and start the process from scratch , is this  what you mean? However, this isn’t possible at the moment with covid etc.. If he transferred to a job, he couldn’t just use a new degree, right? They use the same documents as the original job. This is my impression but I might be wrong.

I have transferred between jobs in China and I actually don’t know what they do but it’s a process that goes on between the old and new employer, I have two degrees and I think they still use the one I got my first job with, back in 2014, even though I have done an MA since...I am not sure if the employee has any control over which degree they use in a job transfer, so Im not sure if he could use another degree. Unless, he starts from scratch. 

Does anyone know more about this? Like, if you could use a new degree gained for a job transfer (different to the one you used in the first job).

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I'm going to start this off by saying I'm quite risk averse when it comes to China.


I'd strongly suggest leaving and starting over from scratch because during the job transfer process, there are a lot of steps that rely on the good will of the school. They need to report whether or not the employee was good (a no means no visa), they need to get lots of paper filled out and stamped with their official seal, and they need to time all this in conjunction with your new school. During this process, if they simply "return" the work permit card, then your friend would have to start the process over.


I wouldn't trust a school that is willing to do a fake degree with doing this fully and reliably, even without the complications of the degree. I know of at least one instance of direct blackmail in which the school required the employee to stay or face consequences when the employee tried to leave.


IMPORTANT: All the power is in the hands of the schools. All of the consequences of doing anything wrong is to be faced by the "foreigner." The school won't be worried of anyone finding out about this because, technically, it was the employee's fault and their signature.


If your friend wants to move on from this, the best way is a clean break that allows the school to save face. Excuses involving family that are real would be best and COVID can give great cover for this. Yes, they'd need to start the process over, but at least they wouldn't have the looming fear of legal consequences if they made a mistake.

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I’d probably leave China, have everything cancelled etc 


Then apply and come back on the other degree. 

As mentioned above, it’s doubtful anyone does a comparison. Even more so when it’s a new applicant.


Trouble is right now once you leave you might not be allowed back in. 

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