Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Student Visa 

Finally got my passport back today (I hate passport pictures). I had contemplated several options for getting a authorization to be in China until I can get a Z visa for the fall. The most flexible visa other than a Z (work) visa is a multiple-entry tourist visa, because you can do anything but work for the duration of the visa. Usually, you have to leave the country every 60 or 90 days. For retired people, this doesn't seem to be that big a problem. I have a friend, a retired businessman from Singapore, who lives in China with his wife on a tourist visa. He goes to Hong Kong every couple months, but only has to renew his visa once a year. The problem is that, in the current climate, this kind of visa is only available if you return to your home country. If you go to Hong Kong with a Z visa that is getting ready to expire, the best you can get is a 30 day tourist visa. If you want to extend, I am told you must go back to Hong, and pay the fee to renew it. That's a pain. If I were to go to the States, I could get a one year multiple-entry visa. But I really don't want to do that right now. So a student visa seems the way to go in my case. If you are just hanging out, then getting a visa through a language school is not a good deal, because you have to pay your tuition for the duration of the visa in advance. But if you are studying at a language school anyway, and paying tuition every two weeks, then it is a more convenient option than a tourist visa. No need to leave the country every 60 or 90 days.

You can also get an F visa, but I didn't want to do that, because many of the F visas are bogus. You are listed on paper as working for a company that you have never even heard of. I don't know how the system actually works, or who is paying money to whom to get this done, but it seems to be done with at least the tacit approval of the government, because they shut them down for the Olympics, and then opened them up again.

I had similar concerns about getting a student visa through the language school, because the language school I attend is very small, and doesn't actually have its own visa granting authority. I asked them about it, but Jordan's teacher assured me it was legitimate. The paper they gave me actually lists a University I have never heard of, which is probably an umbrella organization that cooperates with smaller language schools. I guess there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe I am overly suspicious, I don't know. I just don't want a visa that was obtained by money under the table.

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