Sunday, January 08, 2006

Travel now easier as a teacher in China.

There have been some recent changes in the visa resident permit area that will make things much easier for teachers and the Chinese as well. This is a good sign. It used to be that you needed your z visa, which enabled you to work, and a resident permit that was renewable yearly. The visa was placed in your passport and the resident card was in a green book. The resident card was the most important document. Your z visa actually doesn't have a expiration date on it. So you had to update the resident card yearly. You still have to update that yearly, but now there is no separate book for the resident card. It is also placed inside your passport. So one less document to carry around. Not that I carry mine. The best part about this change includes the ability to go home on a break and then re-enter the country, effectively making it a multiple entry visa. This is a big step for the Chinese and shows someone is thinking to streamline the process. This really simplifies the process of going back home during the spring festival or the summer break. If you are at a university you may want to do this.

A rule of thumb for documents, make copies! You should always have at least a copy of your passport with you. Especially, if you are relinquishing your passport for visas or resident permits. It always makes me a little uncomfortable to give up my passport but this is the process and it usually takes less than 2 weeks. That is one reason it is so important to have a good school to teach at. They have foreign affairs officers to assist you with these matters. You will need your passport for many things, such as opening a bank account, should you desire one. It is a cash and carry society but many people use the ATM machines. If you are going to be needing wire transfers The Bank of China is where you need to do it. It is one of two banks going through a reform process to upgrade and standardize the banking to the excepted international standards. If you get paid cash and won't be converting any into dollars any bank will do or even no bank at all. You may need a phone if you rent an apartment, and you will need to have your passport for that as well. Checking into a hotel? Bingo passport.

One more tip, make sure you start these things early enough so that you don't try and leave with an expired visa. You might end up paying a fine just to leave. Some people come to China on a tourist visa and then get another when they find a job. I recommend that you do your homework, get an official invitation from a school. Most will send you an preliminary contract, you must then send that information with your passport to the nearest consulate and you will likely not be reimbursed for the initial visa. Subsequent visas should be paid for by the school. If you start off right each teaching assignment could lead to a better one. I have doubled my salary, well nearly triple it in three years. I started at Beida, Peking University (Beijing U.) because I knew I could then teach most anywhere I wanted and have a better chance of getting a top salary at any given institution.

Here's a insiders tip. The high paying jobs are usually jobs associated with a western university. If they are administering a program in partnership with the Chinese school there is a good chance the pay will be closer to the western wage. That's the case with me. I teach at a Chinese University for a Canadian College. So you may want to consider looking at home for schools that have joint ventures with Chinese schools.


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