Getting a work visa (Z visa) for China is a multi-layered process. It's actually somewhat similar to our adoption paper chase, just different steps. So how does it work?
We gathered paperwork for months, you have to get each piece of paper notarized, then certified from the MN Secretary of State, then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. Because we got married in Hawaii, we had to send for our marriage license in Hawaii which had to go through a few different steps, and then had to be authenticated at the Los Angeles consulate. That was all complicated enough, but after I submitted it to the school they sent it to the authorities here in Hangzhou.
After a few weeks, I got a note from the school with a note that authorized us to go for an interview at the Chicago Chinese Consulate. We were quite nervous to have this over with, so we made a quick road trip and the process was painless, though no less nerve wracking! They took our passports and we had a courier overnight them to us with the new visas inside.
Once we had our passports in hand we were able to fly! On day one of arrival into China, we were taken to the government health office for our medical exam.
We learned that EVERY person in China needs to have a medical exam completed before they begin a new job. Most citizens go to their doctor but due to fraud, most companies pay for a specific hospital to complete the exam.
It's a somewhat invasive, humiliating process. There are eight stations you need to complete:
1) Chest X-ray...to be sure you don't have Tuberculosis
2) Blood draw...to be sure you don't have any infectious diseases
3) Ultrasound...to check your internal organs.
4) Urine sample
6) Body check...they want to know if you have had surgeries and why, and also if you have any tattoos, which must still be considered "high risk" in this country.
8) Ear & Eye exam
We realized quickly that not many of the workers were thrilled about their jobs. The woman who did my blood draw jab my arm and got no blood, so she kept the needle in and poked around a bit until she hit the vein. Nice!
The urine sample is also especially challenging. They gave me the tiniest little cup and I was led into a stinky, squatty potty stall to complete my business. I won't paint that picture for you...but let's just say it was complicated!
I also have a huge scar on my left side from a ureter surgery I had at age four. This was all lost in translation and the woman kept asking if I had had kidney stones. I finally just said, "Sure!" But then she was confused about why my scar was so big. Either way, we just agreed to move on and she let me continue.
Overall the process went fairly quick, we left after about an hour. Only to have to wait to be sure we passed the exam. If for some reason you are denied access, you have to leave the country and cannot work in China!
Luckily we got news a few days later that all was well and we passed. Our next step is to go to the local police station and to register with the police. We need to show them all of our paperwork, give them our new address and be ready to show them our paperwork and passports if they ever knock on our door.
At this point, the Chinese government knows all there is to know about us, inside and out!