China visa woes.
June 18, 2012 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I am traveling to China on July 17th to teach English to academics, having been invited by a college there. I'm applying for a Business F visa. Co-travelers have successfully received their visas through consulate X. Consulate Y is telling our agency that we need two letters, but the requirements for an "F" visa clearly state that one will suffice. It gets worse.

Incidentally, I am leaving from the U.S.

My colleague, who submitted their application at the same time, just spoke with them.

When he asked if they submitted the application as a "business trip" the agency said no because it "would not have worked." The agency also said the rules changed a month ago requiring two letters.

However, when the agency faxed a document showing the supposed changes in the rules, it was just a requirement that the invitation letter require a stamp, which ours did.

When my colleague told them the applications at another consulate went through with no problem, they yelled at him that they do this every day and it would not have worked - and if they try to submit it one more time marked improperly, it will be rejected and we would be "put on a list".

I have a friend who lives by the other consulate--should I Fedex everything and try again? Am I going to get banned from China for multiple visa attempts? Is there a reliable online processor of Chinese visas?

Is there an online forum filled with experts in Chinese Visa applications?

Thanks, and apologies for the panicked nature of this note.
posted by mecran01 to Travel & Transportation around China (13 answers total)
Response by poster: Update: they submitted our applications as tourist visas, and, under duress, are resubmitting them as "Business F."
posted by mecran01 at 4:22 PM on June 18, 2012

By agency, do you mean the university that invited you to work?

I spent some time studying in China awhile back. I discovered that Chinese people are better at managing the Chinese gov't. I think the university needs to help you. Is the university the agency that is being unhelpful?
posted by Flood at 4:25 PM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: By "agency" I mean the business that is charging me $250 to fedex my application to the Chinese consulate. I have someone who can hand-deliver my application to the consulate if the current attempt falls apart. Our group leader agrees that intervention from the sponsoring institution may prove helpful.
posted by mecran01 at 4:48 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: The best thing is to arrive with an F-visa (or a temporary visa that can be transformed into a residence permit).

If the university is accredited, they would normally be chummy enough with the PSB to be able to ram through an F visa after you arrive.

However, these days everything is being clamped down ahead of the leadership transition, and the government is currently actively cracking down on foreigners working with non-F visas.
posted by flippant at 4:51 PM on June 18, 2012

The only people I know who regularly assist people traveling to China are agencies that coordinate adoptions. My friends who have adopted children from orphanages in different parts of that country said that each experience of dealing with the government was somewhat fraught. Whatever they were told and had experienced before sometimes changed once they were in China and they faced additional travel, official processing, etc. Their experience was that even the best preparations could meet with changes in the rules at the last minute. The adoptions were never in question, just the requirements of the government for travelers and the extra paperwork for the child to travel could include new rules requiring another stamp, etc. Having a local advisor was important and the agency provided this. You might find helpful discussion about some of this on the Chinese adoption forums.
posted by Anitanola at 4:51 PM on June 18, 2012

Forgot to close a tag there, but the links should work.
posted by flippant at 4:52 PM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Note: I will only be there for 30 days, and then returning to the U.S.
posted by mecran01 at 4:54 PM on June 18, 2012

In that case, you should be able to get a multiple entry F-visa with 30 days per stay (and a duration of 6 months to a year).

If your school is feckless in handling this, expect more bureaucratic headaches in the time to come. Speaking from experience.
posted by flippant at 4:57 PM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: I'm not actually sponsored by the school where I work, but by the school in China, if that makes a difference. Hopefully the resubmission will stick.
posted by mecran01 at 5:00 PM on June 18, 2012

I'd try to go through another company.
posted by melizabeth at 4:03 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My tourist visa was easily done by walking into the local Chicago consulate and handing off our documentation and passports to them for a few days. It sounds like the agency trying to help you is not actually being helpful.
posted by garlic at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2012

Response by poster: Everyone I've talked to who has worked with Chicago has had a positive experience.

The problem now (it has been returned a second time) is that the consulate wants a second letter in addition to the letter of invitation from the U.S. business. But I am going as a freelancer who has been invited by the college in China.
posted by mecran01 at 4:59 PM on June 21, 2012

Response by poster: I scrounged up a letter from my dean and the application went through the second time around.
posted by mecran01 at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2012

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