Getting Legal

I wanted to have a blast in Hangzhou all weekend as I’ve been planning to do for weeks, but somehow it turned out to be largely about getting legal.

See, to work legally in China, you need a work visa. In China, it’s called a Z Visa. (Z for 职业, of course.) If you have a full time job in China, your employer has to do the necessary paperwork to get you the Z Visa.

But there’s more. I also needed an Alien Employment Permit (外国人就业证). In Hangzhou I had a Foreign Experts Certificate (外国专家证). Apparently the transition from “American spoken English teacher at a university” to “trainer/consultant fluent in Chinese at a private company” involved a change from expert to alien as well. Oh well, the pay’s a lot better. I got my Alien Employment Permit last week.

But there’s one more important document. As a foreigner, I also need a Residence Permit (居留证). In Hangzhou my school used to repeatedly renew a Temporary Residence Permit (临时居留证). The temporary permit was a flimsy little piece of paper that you can just tuck inside your passport. The full-on Residence Permit looks like a dark green passport and requires a yearly physical examination. Apparently ZUCC found the physical exam requirement too much of a bother. That was fine with me. But now I need a physical to get my Residence Permit in Shanghai.

To make a long, boring story short, my new work institution was too slow in getting all my paperwork processed, so I had to go to the bureau of something or other on Saturday morning to get my Temporary Residence Permit extended so I don’t get fined 400 rmb (US$50) per day. But they took my passport, so I can’t get my physical today, as scheduled. I will have to make a new appointment.

The other reason I didn’t leave for Hangzhou Friday night was that Melody had its company dinner Friday night. It seems to be a tacit understanding that attendance is mandatory. That turned out to be a lot better time than I expected, though. The food was good, my co-workers were fun, and there was a lot of beer drinking. (Too bad it was all Budweiser.)

I did finally make it to Hangzhou Saturday afternoon. I got to see all my Hangzhou friends and made some new ones. Heather had a great house-warming party.

Returning to ZUCC, I somehow feel like I’m returning to the comfort and security of ma and pa on the farm, back from big city life. Life was simple and pleasant all those days at ZUCC. It still is.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Is there a chinese equivalent of “green card”
    ? u might be able to get one someday since u have been living in China long enough.

  2. Jack,

    Good question. I’ve heard that there may be one offered for foreigners that have been living here for 4 or 5 years. I’m almost there. If anyone knows more about this, I’d like to hear about it.

  3. A friend of mine who has been in Suzhou for ten or more years has been requested to get a green card but has refused. With a green card it is true that you can basically come and go as you please but you are taxed on everything you receive and own in China and abroad. A little steep. I have only heard of people running away from them.

    Anyone know the details on a “D” visa? No, I am not looking to marry but I only first heard of it the other day and am interested.

  4. And also, there are no time requirements. They look at job position, contribution to the community, official title and time stayed and planned in China. Very unclear. Strangely enough.

  5. Da Xiangchang Says: March 2, 2004 at 11:21 am

    I wonder what kind of visa Dashan has . . .

  6. Come on now John. Only six posts in a week. Work must be keeping you really busy.

  7. Big Girl Says: April 8, 2004 at 12:12 am

    I am a Chinese student living in US right now. Come across this site on the internet. Found it interesting.

    After reading this post, I have said no one here knows how many procedures that the US government make us go through? I can definitely tell you no less than what you have gone through. Even more after 911. Citizens from certain country, mostly muslim countries even have to make special arrangement to go through some security screening. Treat you like criminals, yea, right.

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