Will an Rx for antidepressants in China cause future visa probs?
August 19, 2014 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I live and work in China, and for the past few years have been struggling with some personal issues. So far I've been soldiering through, but I'm just about ready to go talk to a doctor/psychiatrist about whether or not I should try a course of antidepressants.

My concern now is that I believe mental health issues are a factor in visa decisions in China, but I don't know if this would extend to a limited term course of antidepressants or if it's only for more serious conditions. Does anyone know if a record of antidepressant prescriptions could affect future visa renewals -- either my current annual work visa/residence permit renewals or make it more difficult some years down the road if I switch employers or leave China and come back and need a new work visa?

If I were doing this outside of China the only medical information the consulate would see would be provided by me or by the health checkup people so this wouldn't be an issue. In this case though I'll be seeing a doctor in China and the prescription will be filled here so this will be in my local medical record. I'm not sure if antidepressant prescriptions get reported back to the government or not.

Does anyone have any insight or experience with this?
posted by duoshao to Travel & Transportation around China (1 answer total)
Best answer: My understanding of the visa rules is that minor depression isn't disqualifying, but a bipolar diagnosis would be. However, no one knows how the rules may change in the future, or how a particular officer may interpret the rules on any particular day.

My experience may be out of date -- I lived in China from 2002 through 2012 -- but it seemed like every year the Entry-Exit Bureau became more and more "connected." Obviously they communicate with the police, but in recent years they apparently acquired access to bank records, and often contact employers and landlords to confirm visa application details. I wouldn't be surprised if they have access to medical records as well.

I know when you check in at a state hospital you have to present a valid ID, but I don't know what kind of reporting private clinics are required to do. You could call Parkway or a private clinic in your area to ask about confidentiality. In my experience, most pharmacies don't ask for ID if you have a prescription, so there wouldn't be any record of you actually buying medication.

I know it's a significant expense, but if you're really worried about it, would it be possible to fly to HK one weekend a month to see a psychiatrist there? There are also direct flights to Taipei from Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, etc.
posted by bradf at 9:55 AM on August 20, 2014

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