As I mentioned in my last post, there were some big changes, and reason for some blog updates. And the cat is out of the bag. I’m moving to China. Well, not permanently, but for six months. It has been a very long process to get here. Let me tell you about it.
It all started 6 months ago in a conversation with my boss. He asked if I’d be interested in helping our engineering center in China in a similar capacity to my job here in the United States. Due to my love of international travel, I was interested. Over the course of several months, we investigated what it would take to do an expat assignment. Several others have done expat assignments in our company but none of us knew anyone that have recently done so. Because of my 50% child custody placement, I wanted to include my daughter in these travels not only to avoid any financial implications of not fulfilling my 50% duty, but also because it would be and immensely great experience for my daughter. Therefore, I had to work within these constraints of bringing my daughter for 50% of the time that I was there. The best trying to do this would be during summer break from school. While this was six months from when we started to talk about this, it turns out that it really wasn’t enough time due to all of the red tape.
My boss started inquiring what it would take to make this happen. It took four months just to work through the financial estimates to the company. This left only two months to work through the company approvals and the work permit and travel visa process. The immigration attorney said that it would take up to four months just to process my application. But we needed to do it in two months.
Your journey begins with MANY steps
The application process was quite long and involved. First we had to submit an application for a “notification letter for work permit application”. This wasn’t an application for a work permit, but a sort of pre-approval for applying for a work permit later. In order to apply for this notification letter, there were a ton of documents to provide to the Chinese government, and an insane amount of data to provide. Even though I’ve been working in this field for 27 years, they wanted to know my university info, my high school info, and even my elementary school info! I had to get a thorough medical exam which needed to include chest x-rays, an ECG (electrocardiogram), immunization history dating back to childhood, and about 8 vials of blood for them to check for a myriad of STDs and other diseases. I’m told that I’ll have to repeat this health examination once I arrive in China. I guess that’s in case I get any new STDs in the last two months. Once all of this information was sent to the China government, they informed my immigration attorney that they now wanted an FBI “non criminal record”. So off to the police station to get four sets of fingerprint cards. The ink kind…no electronic scanning.
After the notification letter is received, I can finally apply for my work visa. The Chinese work visa isn’t a work permit either. The work visa is only permission to enter the country with intent to work, but not permission to work. So with only 7 business days remaining until departure, I have to drive to the China Consulate in Chicago and apply for my travel visa, which takes 4 business days to process. Nothing like cutting it a little close.
But wait, there’s more!
Upon entry in China, there’s several more hoops to jump through. As mentioned, I need to get another medical exam. Within a few days of arrival, I need to surrender my passport to apply for the work permit. This will take up to 3 weeks to process. Technically, I’m not supposed to work while this is being processed. So, I guess I can go into the office and “socialize” with the team. Once my work permit is received, then I can apply for my temporary residence permit. This will take another week, and they need my passport for that as well. I’m forbidden to leave the country during my first month. They’ll give me some other form of identification to carry around, and travel within China. China also requires that if I move (move from temporary hotel housing to an apartment), I need to inform the “public security bureau” (police station) of my new address within 24 hours. Also, if I stay at a friend’s house overnight, technically I’m supposed to register this at the public security bureau. I guess they need to keep very close watch on their foreign guests.