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mandarinstudent

"Foreign Expert" requirements

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mandarinstudent

I am currently in China on a tourist visa and trying to get a job as a teacher in a university. One college wanted to hire me, but ran across some problems. When trying to get my "foreign expert" certificate so that I could go to Hong Kong and change my visa, they were told that I could not get it due to the fact that I had recently graduated college. The person at the college told me that he was told that I need to work for 2 years AFTER graduating in order to be declared a foreign expert and that I couldnt teach there unless I had the foreign expert certificate. I have plenty of work experience, but I was working at the same time that I was going to college. Is this true, or is the guy at the college lying or something? Do you really have to work for 2 years after college to teach english at a university in China? At first, the man from the college said that it would be difficult to change the tourist visa to a work visa, but he would try. He also said that if I was in the US, the process would be a snap because there wouldnt have to be any visa conversion. After contacting the people regarding the "expert certificate", he said that even if I was in the US, they could still not hire me because I am a recent college grad and dont have the 2 years working experience AFTER graduation. This doesnt sound right...Anyone know if this is true? Thanks

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roddy

First I've heard of it, and given the number of English teachers in China who are fresh out of college I find it hard to believe this would be feasible to enforce. Could perhaps be some local regulation, but it sounds to me like someone (could be the PSB, local foreign experts bureau, your college?) is trying to put obstacles in your path.

Can you talk to other teachers locally? You might also want to check out the eslcafe.com forums.

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imron

As far as I know, it's a relatively new regulation that's been in force since about the beginning of last semester - at least in Hebei Province where I was working, I can't say about other provinces. It was causing the school I was at all sorts of problems because they couldn't get the teachers that they wanted.

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quanxie

According to the SAFEA guidelines published in 1978 the basic requirements to be issued a “Foreign Expert” certificates are:

1. Who can be considered foreign experts working in China ?

Foreign experts who are invited to work in China can be divided into the following:

1. Foreign educational, scientific, cultural and medical experts.

These refer to those experts who are employed by the Chinese schools and other educational establishments in such fields as publication, medicine, scientific research, culture and art, and sports. They should hold bachelor's degrees and have more than two years of experience.

2. Foreign economic, technical and managerial experts.

These are the foreign professionals who are invited to work on a long-term or short-term basis by the Chinese government agencies, economic and social managerial departments, and by units in the fields of industry, commerce, finance, politics and law. Included are those foreign specialists sent by the foreign corporations to carry out agreements between governments or international organizations and those who come with introduced projects or key construction projects, and those invited directly by the work units to engage in technology and management.

But anyone who has lived here can tell you that a good rule of thumb is " the only thing consistant is inconsistency"

Good luck,

Phil

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mandarinstudent
They should hold bachelor's degrees and have more than two years of experience.

Well, according to this, I only need more than 2 years of experience, which I have. It doesnt say that the experience is required to be AFTER graduating college. I was working and going to school at the same time. The main point in denying me was the fact that I didnt have 2 years of experience after graduating college. Do you guys think that it is worth bringing this point up, or is it pointless to argue?

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roddy

Yeah, regulations are of limited use, and regulations from 1978 . . .

I'd take your cue from the school. If they're holding their hands up and saying 'nothing we can do', then that's probably the case - even if there is a way around it, you're not going to get there without the school's support. If they're giving you alternatives and suggestions - trip to HK, whatever - then you still have options.

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mandarinstudent

The school definitely wants me...They called me a couple of days ago and gave me the details of the whole package: pay, bonuses, vacation time, etc., and asked me to come in and sign the contract Then just an hour later they call me and say that they cant get me the foreign expert certificate to take to HK to change my visa to a work visa. Seems like whatever bureau is in charge of the foreign expert certificates is giving them a hard time and saying that I need my working experience AFTER graduating. Ive looked online and the regulation that quanxie posted from 1978 still looks the same today. My question is whether or not I should present this to the school so that they can argue my case to the "foreign expert bureau" or whatever it is called. If I do this and they do argue for me, is that just going to piss the bureau off and then I will never be allowed to teach? Ive heard that here in China how much ass you kiss matters more than the actual law...

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roddy

Do you need the FE cert to get the working visa in HK? I don't know either way, but in the past I don't think it's been necessary. Sounds like there's not a lot of joined up thinking going on . . .

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imron

You shouldn't need a foreign expert certificate. What you do need is an official letter of invitation issued by SAFEA in your province (which you mentioned in a PM was Hebei).

Once you have the letter of invitation you need to go to any Chinese embassy/consulate to apply for your Z Visa - hence the need to visit HK, because there are no Chinese embassies inside of China. You can of course visit other countries to do this, it's just that HK is usually the fastest, cheapest and easiest option.

Then you enter China on your Z Visa and within 30 days of entry the school needs to go through various procedures to get your Foreign Expert Certification and Residence Permit.

Recently (since about a year ago), the Hebei government (and possibly others, but my first-hand experience with this is limited to Hebei) started getting a lot more strict with regards to schools and foreign teachers.

There is now a standard contract issued and printed by SAFEA that all the schools have to use for teachers working on a Z visa. You can't get a FEC unless you've signed one of these contracts, which are official looking booklet type-things printed in both English and Chinese, with watermarks and serial numbers and everything. It covers basic things such as observing the laws of China, respecting China's religious policies etc etc, and also covers things like contract termination. Schools can also add their own appendices to the contract, but have to use the standard one as a base.

Also, the new strictness means that letters of invitation and FECs have to be processed in the capital of Hebei (Shijiazhuang) making it a real pain for many schools to get these documents. Previously schools used to be able to get that stuff sorted out locally.

Finally, since about 1 semester ago they started enforcing the various regulations more strictly, such as the 2 year experience rule.

If you really want to work with the school, you could try getting an F visa instead, the possible downside of that being you then can't get a FEC, which means that you can't easily change large amounts of your salary into foreign currency (which is really all the FEC is used for nowadays). This may or may not be a problem for you. Also, you probably wouldn't be signing the standard SAFEA contract, just something the school would write up, if they made you sign a contract at all. Again, the standard SAFEA contracts is really only something that's required to get the FEC, and even if you were to sign a school written contract it probably wouldn't be worth too much anyway.

Alternatively, you could always massage the truth and say that you do have the experience gained since graduating from college, because probably no-one is going to pay attention to the blurry date on the poor-quality photocopy of your graduation certificate.

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EmFinn

One thing to note is that the two years experience requirement is waived in regions which are officially lacking in foreign experts (Essentially up north and out west, other than Tibet).

There's no benefit in arguing that you worked during college. Most chinese people will not believe you, and if they do will reckon this means you didn't do a serious college course, or didn't put any effort into the course.

The real challenge though, as always, is how good are your potential employers contacts in the police/immigration offices.

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mandarinstudent

Well, to defend myself, I really did work my way through school. No loans, no mommy/daddy money...all me. True, it was "only" a state university, but I still managed to graduate with a 4.0 with references and transcripts to back it up. It meant little sleep and even less time for fun (I took a 2.5 year break in the middle of the 4 years to get all the drinking out of my system), but I got it done. If the Chinese dont want to believe that, they can go to hell :wink:

If you really want to work with the school, you could try getting an F visa instead, the possible downside of that being you then can't get a FEC, which means that you can't easily change large amounts of your salary into foreign currency (which is really all the FEC is used for nowadays). This may or may not be a problem for you. Also, you probably wouldn't be signing the standard SAFEA contract, just something the school would write up, if they made you sign a contract at all. Again, the standard SAFEA contracts is really only something that's required to get the FEC, and even if you were to sign a school written contract it probably wouldn't be worth too much anyway.

Ok, here is a question...How hard is it to change to an F visa? It seems like I have missed the boat on all the universities in this area. They already have all the foreign teachers they need for this year. Right now Im working at a couple of the local language schools (on an L visa, remember) and one of them said that if I really plan on working there for a long time they will help with the visa. Can a language school really do that? Could they get me an F visa that allows me to work in China? Thanks again for the help.

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quanxie

I will again repeat that the only thing consistent here is inconsistency... My current employer/partner has a license to recruit foreign teachers and obtain "proper” working visas. But the paperwork is too time consuming and laborious... Also, most teachers commit to 6 month contracts so; we usually get them 6 month business visas.

To answer your question directly, if I can: "How hard is it to change to an F visa?”Can a language school really do that? "

If your employer has the right connections/relationships with the local police department of entry/exit, then anything is possible... Here we can easily change or extend ANY visa.... Even expired visas can be fixed...The market demands that private language schools must bend the "rules" more than public universities.

Good luck,

P.S. If you want a good university job in Dongguan I can help you get

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pisces4aqua

I'm glad reading quanxie's information regarding the visa processing especially those who wants to get the working visa..Thanks for the clarification.

I'm currently offered a teaching job in Henan province and the school sent me the official 2 sets of contract issued by SAFEA and the school appendix both written in Chinese and English. I signed those documents and sent it back to them together with the Letter of Good Health from the local hospital, the Physical Medical record for Foreigner and some copies of my Certificates, for the paperwork process for my formal invitation and permit in getting the Z visa here in my country before entering and working in China. I inquired from the Chinese Embassy here in our country that the visa they will issue to me is Z visa allowing me to work there but its not a multiple entry visa.

How can we change a single entry Z visa to a multiple entry visa? I think it's better to have a multiple entry visa rather than a single one? Is there any possibility for this?

Please give me additional information for this. Thanks!

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imron

You Z visa is what allows you to enter China, but it is not what allows you to stay. Within 30 days of entry, you will need to convert it to a residence permit (this is really just a formality, and involves the school taking all the relevant documentation to the local PSB, and then waiting for a week or so).

Once you've got that, resident permits are all multi-entry, and you can come and go as much as you like.

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pisces4aqua

Thanks for your reply, imron....it gives me idea on what to do next when I'll be there. I've hear this from my principal that they will process my resident permit when Im already there. Its really good to have a multiple entry visa. Again, thanks!

How legal is the contract issued by the SAFEA? What if the school won't follow what were written on this contract and the appendix?

By the way, a friend of mine was working as an ESL teacher in one of the cities in Guangdong province. The school invited her to come to there school using an F visa, then later on changed to Z visa with temporary resident permit and issued with Foreigners' working permit. Is this legal, too, like the Foreign Experts Certificate? But she didn't have a contract issued by the SAFEA like mine. Only a contract like an appendix signed by her and the School's Director.

Hope to hear an answer for this. Thanks!

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imron

The main purpose of a SAFEA issued contract is that it allows you to get a foreign expert certificate (I believe that nowadays, you cannot get a FEC without one). As far as contracts go, it's probably about as legal as you're likely to get.

The only real use of the FEC is that it allows you to exchange a certain percentage of your salary into foreign currency. It's quite common that if a school is only going to employ a teacher for 1 semester, then they will only get an F visa for them. This reduces the amount of paperwork and hassle on the school's end. I would guess (but IANACL) a contract issued by the school is still legal, but the thing to realise is that in China, contracts aren't quite as concrete and enforceable as a contract is in the West. Sometimes they're not really worth the paper they're written on if you want to try and enforce some particular clause, and are written more to give the foreign teacher peace of mind, than because they are actually a useful legal document.

Anyway, if your school doesn't follow the SAFEA contract, then according to its terms, you have the right to terminate the contract and be awarded a breach penalty - I've never heard of anyone actually being able to get the breach penalty however, so probably the best you'll be able to do is leave the school without having to pay any breach penalty yourself. Whether or not you can be reimbursed for airfares, paid your last months salary etc, is also another grey area if you have a falling out with the school and want to leave.

All that being said, a school that can get you a Z visa is likely to be more reliable (and legally able to employ foreigners) than a school that can't, and personally I'd recommend anyone coming to teach in China for the first time to make sure their school can get them a Z visa.

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pisces4aqua

Im glad for the gratifying information...Thank you imron!

Since, I'll be entering China using working visa, do I need to have single plane ticket or I'll have return ticket as well?

Do I need to bring along with me all the time my resident permit and other documents? My school where I'll be teaching has 3 locations and I have to teach in one location about 6 km away from the 2 school locations.

How's the cost of living in Luoyang City, Henan province compared to other cities? How about the peace and order of that place? Is there anybody knew about this city?

Please let me know if you know something on these. Thanks!

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liuzhou

My goodness! What are you going to teach in China?

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wushijiao
How's the cost of living in Luoyang City, Henan province compared to other cities? How about the peace and order of that place? Is there anybody knew about this city?

Luoyang is fairly cheap compared to most cities. You can eat a great meal for 20RMB or so. The cheapest food might be just 2-5RMB. Most people live on 500-1000RMB per month. I'm sure you'll be making more than that.

Luoyang is as safe as most cities in Europe, roughly speaking.

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imron

All you need is a one-way ticket, however at some airports they might question you about this and not want to let you on the plane. In this case, it will be useful to have documention showing that you will be living in China for a significant period of time (copies of your contract, invitation letter etc), if the check-in staff still don't believe you, then keep asking to speak to someone higher up, and eventually you'll get someone who understands the regulations for China.

As for carrying documents on you once you've arrived, if you're travelling around China, you'll need to carry your passport and residence permit (your residence permit is a one-page sticker that is placed in your passport), otherwise you won't be able to check-in to a hotel. If you're just moving about the town/city where you live, there's no need to carry such documents on you, and in fact it's probably best to leave them in a safe place in your apartment, so you don't accidentally lose them.

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