Over the past two months, I have been working hard to attain the Z-visa — basically, a long-term work permit. Even with an established company on my side providing all necessary paperwork, my application has yet to be submitted. Every time we go to the Labor Bureau, a new rule appears to delay and deny us.
Now back in the states without a visa, I’m going for the F-visa — the basic business visa that allows you a few months’ stay, but can be potentially renewed with a trip to Hong Kong. What was so easy for my friends to get in the past is suddenly mystifying. A call from my visa agent informed me of a new rule: that my authorized invitation letter needs to specifically state my gender and nationality (and other things), even though that is 1. on the application, 2. clear from both my picture and the fact that I’m applying from my home country. Rules are rules, even if they don’t appear on the Chinese consulate’s website.
I’m going to dare say that this is not just my personal issue, resultant of blogging about China for years, as I have yet to submit the actual paperwork. I haven’t even been able to get that far. My friend who works in the admissions department of a well-established American university with a campus in China said that this is the first year their students have run into trouble with visas. “The consulate sent back a ton of visa applications, saying that they didn’t sound like students,” she told me. This is coming from a school that has been established in China for 25 years.
When another friend recently attained his Z-visa within 5 days of submission (Shanghai), I started to wonder if Beijing city (whose labor bureau has our administrative assistant running around town for this and that) is tightening its clamps for reasons of its own, something having to do with a certain political transition this December.
If rock concerts and film fests in Beijing can be canceled and unplugged at will (as they were this summer), seemingly for the sake of “maintaining stability” for the upcoming leadership transition, then it should come as no surprise that foreigners are being barred from establishing themselves — especially in the capital.