Monday, August 22, 2016

Fortune Cookie #11 - Chinese Beauracracy

Sometimes it feels like our move to China is never going to happen. I know we will get there, but the process has been much more frustrating than I had anticipated. This was the first thing I thought of when I saw this fortune.

You will conquer obstacles to achieve success

The obstacles we have encountered mostly involve the mountains of paperwork required to petition the Chinese government to grant us permission to work in their country.

I am in no way an expert on international travel and employment, but I do know that the requirements vary greatly from country to country. In most countries, a foreigner will need a work visa in order to work there. You simply apply for a work visa instead of a tourist visa and you are good to go. However, China is harder to get into than the Playboy mansion. You must have an invitation.

We've had our fingerprints run for criminal background checks. We've sent our resumes to have them translated into Mandarin. They needed our marriage license, our original college degrees, copies of our passports, some new passport-type photos, letters of reference from the places we have worked to ensure the accuracy of our resumes and a health physical.

They have received everything they need from us except for two pieces of paperwork. My TESOL certification and the paperwork from our physicals. These papers have proven to be more troublesome than Ryan Lochte's account from his night out in Rio.

I don't actually have a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate and there is a reason for this. I shouldn't need one.

I spent two years going to graduate school to get my Master's degree in TESOL. This means I have a Master's degree. That is supposed to be an impressive document. The TESOL certificate can be obtained by attending some weekend classes for a month. It is a much, much, MUCH smaller undertaking. Having a Master's degree trumps having a certificate. No one would ask a doctor to see proof that he has taken a CPR course because he is a doctor.

Now, this may be frustrating, but I understand. Sort of. Things work differently in different countries. Paperwork and regulations vary from place to place and carry different weight. Add a language and cultural barrier into the mix and it can get quite complicated. Since their paperwork says I have to produce a TESOL certificate, if I can't do that, then I have not met their requirements. No amount of explaining (or tears) will change that.

Luckily, I went to the fantastic school Lincoln Christian University. I called them and explained my dilemma. Since I had more than met the requirements of what it takes to get a certificate from them in getting my Master's, they agreed to issue me a certificate. I love my school. I should get it on August 31.

The second obstacle has yet to be conquered. We are required to get a health physical. Anyone coming to work in China needs to be of reasonably good health and not be bringing particular communicable diseases into their country. This makes sense. However, getting this physical is not easy. It must be performed at a Chinese Embassy-approved facility and we must bring the proper forms to have filled out by the doctor.

These forms are nowhere to be found on the internet and even our employer in China has no idea where to find them. We also have had no luck in finding out where these embassy-approved facilities are. It's like a real-life Where's Waldo book. After literally hundreds of phone calls to the embassy in Chicago for the last six weeks, we are no closer to the answer than when we started. Plus, once I get all excited about getting naked in front of someone, it just has to happen before I can get a good night sleep.

I know these roadblocks will eventually be overcome and we will end up in China in the end. It has just been a very frustrating process. I'm sticking it out for the endless supply of fried wontons.


  1. I'm ready to be done with this rollercoaster. Everyone swears it's worth it in the end!

  2. I can't even begin to imagine the challenges involved with emigrating to China. When we moved to New Zealand, there was a ton of paperwork, background checks, medical tests etc. and it was all down to the wire whether it would be done on time. I imagine the Chinese process would be a million times worse.


Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.