June 9th, 2020

mom walk

meanwhile... visas and banks

This week my offboarding process got kicked off, and the one thing i was most interested to find out was how they were going to manage the visa situation.

I've mentioned before that a lot of companies in China are quite lax with the offboarding of foreigners. Although technically they are supposed to cancel your work permit, which provides you with a certificate that you then need to give to your next employer if you want to re-up, it's not entirely clear if they also have a responsibility to cancel your residence permit. Every foreigner i've known in China who quit their job did not get their residence permit canceled, which means they got a free ride where they were allowed to stay in China till the residence permit ran out. This is a great way to wangle the opportunity to travel in China for longer than the standard 30 day tourist visa.

My company is not going to let my residence permit run out. They are explicitly canceling it, because "it's the government regulations". I mean, whatever. The "good" news is that according to "the government regulations", they can't just cancel my residence permit and leave me in the shit, they have to transfer it back over to a temporary stay visa, which is good for 30 days. The bad news is that it takes 7 business days to process the visa transfer and they will do it in advance of my final day, so by the time it is my final day, i might only have 2 weeks left on that 30 day visa. Somehow that doesn't seem very regulations-y, but eh.

What tickled me silly is finding out there's a twist! For the past few months, the government has been auto-extending all the 30 day visas for 30 days at a time, since land borders are closed (including to Hong Kong) and there are very few flights out of the country right now.

What that means is worst case scenario i will have 2 weeks in the country after my last day of work. Middle case scenario i will have a month. Best case scenario, i might get a bonus 30 days, depending on if the government continues the auto-extension program. Nobody knows what will happen, even moreso because it's not just corona shit going on, it's Xi vs Trump in a dick-measuring contest over who can ban each other's airlines harder, so flights are on, flights are off, who the fuck knows?

I have a backup plan. The Canadian Consulate in Guangzhou, who have been absolutely excellent throughout these corona times, has a list of all the direct flights from China to Canada. As much as Xi hates Trudeau right now because of the Huawei arrest, there are also a shit-ton of extremely rich Chinese in Vancouver who'd riot if they couldn't get back and forth. So there are several flights a week leaving from various cities around the country - potentially a good excuse to do some "essential travel" touristing along the way!

One mildly annoying thing is that i won't get a tax certificate for my final pay until August, which means i cannot get my final paycheck out of the country. At this point it looks like i might end up with about us$8000 still in China across two accounts, which is not a terrible thing to have if i ever come back. It's also a "small" enough total i could probably gradually pull it out over the course of a few months, especially if i am in Vancouver or another city where there are ATMs that accept Unionpay (China's debit card network).

Anyway, isn't this a boring update? You know it. Let's double down.

On the weekend, after a post from from susandennis that made me realize my current Canadian bank is screwing me on interest, i checked out the options for high interest savings accounts, and sure enough there are several internet banks where i could earn 1-2% interest, instead of the 0.0001% or whatever laughably small amount my current bank gives me. Normally it wouldn't make much difference, but now that i have entered the brave new world of The People With Six Figures In The Bank, that actually would be real money year on year.

Unfortunately, because Fucking Canada, you need to send them a blank check to link the account. A blank check, the fuck? Who uses checks? Who even uses the post office? I thought this was an internet bank! I forgot how far behind the times Canada is in banking. Outside of the wonderful world of mobile payments, China is pretty painful too. Actually, so was Germany. How is it i keep living in countries that suck so fucking hard at banking? I tell you what, Australia had better banking 10+ years ago than any of these places, and the Netherlands had better banking 20+ years ago. My friends in the UK tell me that over there you can open a new bank account faster than a Netflix. Damn right! You got my tax number, you don't need anything else! It's 2020, i expect my banking to be all pew pew pew like, this is our world now... The world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud, motherfucker.

Ahem.

So ends my very dry update. I hope y'all are reading this in Asia timezone because if you're in America and just woke up, i just put you back to sleep. Oop.