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Getting Z-visa hard task for young foreigners in China

(China Daily)

10:38, May 28, 2012

When John got his work visa, he felt very lucky: The days when he had to leave the Chinese mainland every three months for a new visa had finally ended.

With the Z-visa, he can now legally work in Beijing as a music teacher, and his next visa renewal is a year away, said John, who declined to give his full name.

But not everyone is so lucky.

Lured by opportunities in China, young foreigners who cannot get a work visa have to travel abroad to get a new visa every few months. Some even work illegally in the country.

According to the Rules for the Administration of Employment of Foreigners in China, only foreigners with Z-visas are legally allowed to work in China.

Those with tourist visas have to leave the Chinese mainland regularly to apply for new visas.

But it is extremely difficult to get a Z-visa, which requires applicants to prove that they have been hired by Chinese institutions and have at least two years of work experience in the relevant industry.

Unfortunately, most young foreigners like John cannot be hired by Chinese companies or other institutions, having had no such experience before they came to China.

Although he had no work visa, John still found a job as a music teacher for Chinese children.

"This is very common in artistic circles, among freelancers or English teachers", he told China Daily, adding that those industries need only part-time workers.

"China offers more chances for young people", said Oliver, a Frenchman working in Beijing as a consultant for Chinese students who want to study abroad. He also declined to give his full name.

"If you are good at Chinese, there are more opportunities," he added.

"There are a lot of foreign models who work in China, although they can only get tourist visas," said Jack Shen, a model agent in Beijing.

"This situation is quite common in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in China. But China so far has no clear, relevant regulations or policies."

Shine An, another model agent, said that they only need foreign models during fashion show seasons, and these models work with three-month tourist visas.

Models usually hold tourist visas, and they cannot admit that they have jobs in China. Most of them tell border officers that they have come to China to meet their Chinese boyfriends.

Some model agencies suggest that they dress like young students, said the Wall Street Journal.

The situation for English training agencies is similar, because they only need foreign teachers during the winter and summer vocations, said John.

John first arrived in China in 2006 and studied Chinese folk music. Having finished his studies, he decided to stay in China. At that point, his "visa tours" began.

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