amw (amw) wrote,

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Immigration can bite my ass.

When i first saw the requirements for a Chinese work permit, i breathed a sigh of relief. After having to produce literal stacks of documentation to prove my relationship was legit back in 2009 when i was immigrating to Canada, it was refreshing to just have a bullet point list: passport, 2+ years work experience, bachelor degree, non-criminal record, health check. Unfortunately, the reality is that this is as frustrating as ever.

Let me start by explaining the process. The above documents are required for step one: Work Permit Approval. After waiting 15 days for the Work Permit Approval to be granted, you have to apply for a Work Visa. The Work Visa is actually just a single-entry visa that you can only get if you have Work Permit Approval. If your Work Permit Approval is for a position in Guangdong, you cannot go to Hong Kong for your Work Visa, you inexplicably have to fly all the way back to your passport country. After waiting 4 days for the Work Visa, you can fly back to China, where you are able to apply for the actual Work Permit. Which takes 15 more days. And then you can start work. So, good times.

Or, you know, it would be good times if you had all of your documents with you on your person up-front. But of course i don't, because unlike the people who are actually out to scam the system, i am legit in China on holiday and did not carry a stack of authenticated and legalized documents with me in my backpack. And, dear God, obtaining these documents from all over the world is a huge pain in the ass.

I have never in my life been issued a "work certificate". I think i only have one written reference from my first job back in the late 90s/early 00s, and i have no idea where that is. Every employer i have applied at in the west exclusively uses LinkedIn and other social media for reference checking these days, because it is far more reliable than easily-forged letters or hokey phone calls. But China's social credit system is still being built, and right now it is primarily based on domestic e-commerce and mobile payment solutions anyway. So paper it is. Because i haven't stayed at any single employer for 2+ years, i have had to contact several employers for reference letters. I don't even know up-front if the Chinese government will accept them, because they want some kind of official stamp or seal that - once again - companies in other countries do not have. Ugh.

Next up, the useless piece of paper that is my university degree. Further to my previous entry, i found a law firm in Australia who will handle the authentication and legalization on my behalf. Of course it costs a ton of money, but it's cheaper than a flight. I sent that off this weekend, so hopefully i can blissfully forget about Australia again for a while.

Then, oh dear Lord, the fucking police check. When i immigrated to Canada i needed to get an RCMP (Canada) check, an FBI (USA) check and an AFP (Australia) check, because for some reason CIC can't just make a fucking INTERPOL request on their own. At least China doesn't care about every country i visited in the last 10 years and just wants a single RCMP check, since apparently the only thing that matters here is your passport country. But they want that check authenticated and legalized, so i have to book yet another law firm to handle this on my behalf.

And i need to find somewhere to get my fingerprints done.

Following the advice on the Canadian Embassy website, i visited the central police department today, where some bureaucrat pointedly did not speak to me, shooed away the clerk who was supposed to be helping me, called over someone who could allegedly speak English, then told her to tell me that they will not be helping foreigners get fingerprints and that i would have to go to the Canadian Consulate in Guangzhou. The same Canadian Consulate that referred me to this exact police station. I was fuming when i left, but i know better than to make a scene with a cop, especially a Chinese cop, and especially a probably-racist Chinese cop. So tomorrow i am getting up at 6:00am to take the rush hour train(s) to Hong Kong to see if the cops over there will be more friendly. It would be entirely ridiculous if i had to fly to Canada just to get my prints done.

But you know what would be even more ridiculous? If i had to fly to Canada to get a fucking physical that includes a hocus pocus Chinese witch doctor inspection. After some understandable confusion on my behalf, it turns out you need two fucking health checks. One to get the Work Permit Approval - this one requires the aforementioned TCM nonsense as well as X-rays and ECGs and everything else - and then another one to get the Work Permit. The second one includes all the same stuff as the first one, the only difference is that you have to do it inside China. And the first one needs to be performed, authenticated and legalized in your passport country. I mean. WHAT THE FUCK. Why not just do the second one in the first place!? God only knows. So now it appears i have to sign some kind of special release form to waive the first one, even though i am right here in China already and could do both of them right now. Like... seriously, guys.

Now, i should add that i made a stupid mistake over the past month, and that was assuming that the Work Permit Approval was just a letter that my employer could get anytime. I thought i could just collect all the docs in Canada and then waltz into the Toronto Visa Center with everything in-hand. But it turns out that all the documents are required here in China before my employer can even apply for the Work Permit Approval. I now have half my docs in the mail to Canada, and need to have a friend over there forward them back here to China again. This is less awful than it sounds, given that it now looks like sending my fingerprints to Canada and getting the police check back here is going to be the biggest bottleneck.

Long story short, i will be in China for at least another 3 weeks while i wait for all the shit to arrive here from everywhere else in the goddamn world. Assuming all goes well with the Work Permit Approval, i will then have to fly to Canada to get the Work Visa. Then come back to China to start the Work Permit process. Not that i am complaining - the longer i don't have to go back to work the more time i have to learn Chinese and climb mountains. I have enough money in my emergency/bridge fund to pay for that at least. It's just frustrating that so much of this is out of my control.

I think the worst part is the embarrassment. I feel like my future employer now sees me as stupid and disorganized, when in reality i am being fucked by antiquated immigration processes that are very much not designed for people who actually spend their whole lives in migration. Again. As usual. As i probably will be for the rest of my life until i decide to stop moving altogether. At which point i will be old, broke and homeless and freeze to death somewhere in Canada. Actually, the worst part is being reminded most everyone in the world distrusts or resents people like me. Sigh.
Tags: china, immigration

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