Visa Guide: China

How to Get a Work Visa for China

Getting your Z Visa to work in China is a fairly simple, streamlined process that can honestly be completed in just a few week’s time. To get started, you’ll first need to secure a job in China as the visa process is first initiated by your future employer. Once you’ve found a job, you’ll send them a copy of your passport, degrees, resume, and passport photos. Since none of these need to be originals you can simply e-mail them scans or photos. They will then use these documents to apply for your work permit and draft your invitation letter. They can usually obtain these in about a week’s time, at which point they will mail you a packet of documents you’ll need.

Once your paperwork has arrived in your home country, you’re ready to gather the documents needed by your nearest embassy or consulate:

These documents will be sent, along with your visa fee, to the consulate that has jurisdiction for your residence. It is important to note that while US citizens can mail their documents, UK citizens are required to drop theirs off in person (although you can always hire a visa service to do this for you, at a price). The turn-around can be as quick as 5 days in many cases, though you should be prepared to wait at least 2 weeks if necessary.

Embassy & Consulate Information:

USA: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/

Ireland: http://ie.chineseembassy.org/eng/

UK: http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/visa/

South Africa: http://www.chinese-embassy.org.za/eng/lqfw/guidelines/visa/

Australia: http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/ls/

-Ashley

Visa Guide: Korea

Getting Your Work Visa in Korea

South Korea has one of the most complex and time-consuming Visa processes of all the countries I’ve been to. The amount of paperwork involved is intense and unlike most countries, you really need to begin the process of collecting documents long before you’ve actually secured a job. Further, while most countries process these applications at their foreign consulates, your documents will actually need to be sent to Korea before you can proceed. Let’s start with the basics—here’s what you’ll need to collect:

  • Three sealed copies of your University transcripts
  • Notarized copies of your degrees
  • Two copies of an FBI Criminal Background Check—depending on where you live, this can be quite a hassle. In order to obtain the correct check, you need to supply them with fingerprint cards. Getting your fingerprints taken in the past meant walking into any police station, but these days finding one that still does it (or even better—does it for free) can be hard to do. For the process on ordering or to print out fingerprint cards, go to https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks/identity-history-summary-checks . This one has to be timed correctly as well—these checks often take up to 3 months to get back to you and they need to be less than 6 months old to be valid.
  • Signed Health Statement—this will likely be provided by your school or recruiter.
  • Resume with at least 2 letters of recommendation
  • Copy of your Passport Information page
  • 5 Passport-sized Photos
  • A signed copy of your new school contract.

So far this seems pretty standard, right? Well, here’s where it gets complicated. You’ll now need to take your notarized degree copies & FBI Check and have them apostilled. For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with this process, welcome to the club. It’s a needlessly complicated and expensive way to basically notarize the notary—double-confirm that the document is real. In the US, each state has a designated office that can issue apostilles, each with their own fee ranging from $0 – $35 per document. You’ll need to send your degrees to the office of the state they were notarized in. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to send them to the state they were issued in instead—make sure you clarify this with your recruiter or school before sending your documents.

Your background check will need to be apostilled at the federal level, so you’ll need this form (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/183033.pdf ) and will send your documents to the Department of State.

For those not in the US, apostilles may be obtained from:

Okay, so now you’ve spent a few hundred bucks and wasted hours waiting for the mail to arrive, but you’ve finally collected all your papers. Now, you’ll need to send them to your school or recruiter in Korea. They’ll then file for your visa issuance number and send the required documents back to you. Now, you’ll need to collect the documents you’ll need at the consulate:

  • Passport
  • E2 Visa Application form (obtainable from the consulate or online)
  • Consulate’s Checklist (obtainable from the consulate or online)
  • Passport Photo
  • One set of sealed university transcripts
  • Visa Issuance Number

The final step in the process, after your documents have been reviewed, is an interview with the consulate which can be scheduled via telephone, although most require you to appear in person for the actual appointment. They’ll mostly just ask about your employment, your housing, your long-term plan, and your medical record/vaccinations—all pretty basic.

You then need to wait for your passport to arrive with your newly minted Korean Work Visa, and once it arrives you’ll be on your way!

-Ashley

That Time I Think I Snuck Into Cambodia

That Time I Think I Snuck Into Cambodia

When traveling through South East Asia you’ll quickly find that there is a more or less established backpacker’s route—while you and your fellow travelers may be hitting the same spots, it’s likely you’ll be going in various directions and orders. Usually this makes it fairly simple to learn how to get from place to place—wherever you’re going next, chances are someone in your hostel just came from there. This is why I was so surprised to find it insanely difficult to get information on the best way to get into Cambodia from Laos by land.

Basically the only piece of advice I could get was “Take the best deal you can,” which was always inevitably followed by some horror story of scams, theft, and abandonment. Nevertheless, I figured if they survived I could certainly do better…right?

After having spent a good deal of time in Laos, I’d decided that Angkor Wat was next on my list, so early one morning my traveling buddies and I headed to the bus station in Vientiane to book tickets to Siem Reap, a journey that takes roughly 24 hours if all goes smoothly. Getting the right tickets was simple enough, but information on the visa process was both scarce and confusing. Luckily, a friendly stranger at a picnic table said he could get us through process cheaply and painlessly. All we had to do was drop our passports in his duffel bag, give him $22, and fill out the visa application which he had run out of. Not to worry, my new pal assured us, he’d have more soon. He then left us, saying he’d meet up with us again at the border.

Yeah, I know, handing over your documents to a sketchy stranger who is clearly conning you probably isn’t the best decision, but we’d definitely all heard worse beginnings that ended alright, so I figured there’s a chance it would be worth the risk.

As we boarded our bus, the driver exchanged our tickets for those we’d need at the next stop. While we knew we needed to switch buses at the border, we were told our next set of tickets weren’t actually for Siem Reap, but for a town I’d never heard of with a train to Siem Reap. At any rate I knew that if it turned out to be a lie, at least I’d be stranded with an entire bus worth of people and not alone.

Thirteen uncomfortable hours later, the driver ordered us off the bus and told us to walk across the border, and when we got to the border patrol & customs check not to stop at the window, just walk around them and take the ladder or ramp up a wall. Leery about leaving my luggage behind but seeing no other option, I followed the small crowd into no-man’s land when everyone suddenly stopped dead. An officer had come out yelling “HEALTH CHECK” in English, while about 30 feet ahead of us stood a man roughly 3 feet tall with a hump and a googly eye, waiting.

Seeing as how my friends were clearly a bit freaked out (and rightfully so) I figured I may as well go first and see what they’d actually do—turns out the little dude just takes your temperature and sends you along. At least I was first to use the public thermometer.

After passing through we easily spotted the wall we’d been told about and over we climbed to find a handful of stalls with people hocking bus and van tickets of their own. It was here were learned that—big surprise—the train station we were headed for didn’t exist and our tickets were worthless from that point on.

So here’s the rundown: We’re stranded on the side of the road in the blistering heat of Cambodia with no luggage, no passports, and no transport.

Pooling what little cash we had (and paying in multiple currencies) we were able to secure van tickets to Siem Reap, with the promise that they’d be air-conditioned and wifi-capable.

After standing around for another lifetime, a motorbike eventually showed up and the driver dropped off a plastic shopping bag full of passports, which other passengers and I began reading out names from and passing around. We did indeed find new visa stickers inside, with our information hand-written on top, not looking anything close to legit, and signed by “Jeff”.

Eventually, a caravan of passenger vans showed up, some carrying our luggage and others waiting to take us to our next destination. Turns out “air conditioning & wifi” is often code for “overcrowded and full of live chickens”.

At my next hostel I met a guy who had done the visa process by the book on his own, and while he saved $2 on his visa, the trip also took him 12 hours longer.

I would be no means recommend taking the route I took, and I’m sure there are plenty of options out there. I’ve heard that while the visa prices have increased in recent years, so have transport options and the border itself has become more streamlined and less corrupt.

My advice?

Take the best deal you can.

– Ashley