Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Guide

I just wanted to write a guide to getting a Chinese Work (Z) visa in Bangkok. This is based on my own horrible experiences and might not be completely correct, but at least it'll get your further than the official embassy website: http://www.chinaembassy.or.th/eng/ which doesn't have much information on it at all.

Here's what you'll need (and this is order you should present it to them at the Visa Office):

  • Visa Application Form A (with passport photo on)
  • Visa Application Form B (supplementary form)
  • Photocopy of passport page
  • Photocopy of Thai visa page
  • Photocopy of last Chinese Visa (if any)
  • Employment letter and any other documents your school sends you
  • Bank Statement
  • Flight Booking
  • Hotel Reservation (I didn't submit one as I was staying with a friend – but you'll need to put his/her address in the appropriate section)
  • Photocopy of Medical Form (with the same passport photo as the one on your Application Form)


Process

First, you'll need to get your documents from your school in China. They should advise you as to exactly what they need (it may differ in different parts of China) but generally it should be the following items (which you'll need to scan in and send to them via email):
  • Scan of passport info page
  • Resume/CV
  • Photo of yourself
  • Scan of degree
  • Scan of teaching certificate (if you have one)
  • References (might not necessarily need these – check with your school)

Once they receive these, they'll take them to be processed and then send you the employment letter and any other documents which are needed from their side). This can possibly take a week or two (or maybe longer) so in the mean time get the rest of the documents together.

First, go the Visa Application Centre to pick up the Application Forms (A and B) and the Medical Check Form (unfortunately, these forms are not available online). The Visa Application Centre is not the same as the Chinese Embassy. This link explains how to get there: http://migrationology.com/2011/07/how-to-get-a-china-visa-in-bangkok/ .

Take the Medical Form to the nearest hospital, which is Praram 9 hospital. It's important that you take it to a Thai government hospital and not a clinic. Praram 9 is fine and it's the closest one. It's possible to walk there (takes about 15mins) or you can take one of the motorbike taxis from outside the embassy – they all know the place. Here's a map from A (the visa office) to B (the hospital). 



The hospital will do the full medical check and have the results back to you within a few hours. Make sure they put an official hospital stamp over your picture and at the bottom.

Then take this form with your passport to a copy shop. There are a few near the Visa Office – turn left when you exit the Visa Office and walk a while and you'll come across some. Do all the copies that I mentioned earlier (passport info page, Thai visa, previous Chinese visa and the medical form).

Fill in the application forms (A and B) carefully. You'll need the address of the school and the address of someone you're staying with (alternatively, book a hotel but be sure to take a print out of the booking with you for the visa application). There's also a section on the Form B about the school's Alien Employment number or something like that (I can't remember exactly the terminology). Ask your school for this too.

Print off a recent bank statement. Try to make sure you have at least a bit of money in there otherwise they might reject it on the basis of you not having enough money (note: this is a guess on my part. I don't know for sure, but I heard of one guy who had problems for not having enough money in his account – exactly how much is required is anybody's guess!).

When you get your documents from your school, book a flight and print off the E-ticket. Allow yourself about a week of 'wiggle room' in case there are problems at the Visa Office (I met a few people who missed flights due to unforeseen problems).


By this time you should have all your documents ready. Put them in the order I mentioned earlier and prepare yourself for going to the Visa Application Office. It opens at 9am but I recommend getting there earlier. If you turn up at 9am then they'll be a huge line of people and it'll take you a few hours to be seen. I recommend getting there at around 7.30am – 8am. There a 3 lines outside (although people generally don't know this so it's little chaotic). The far left line is for Visa applications – stand here. The middle and far right lines are for tour groups and people collecting their passports (they'll have these little pink slips which you'll come across later). Generally, they let the tour groups and passport collectors in first. Don't worry – they'll be in different lines once you get up to the office).

Once you get let in at 9am you'll proceed upstairs. When you enter the office, get a ticket from the machine (or if the machine is broken you'll need to line up in front of the windows). The office has glue for you to stick your picture to your form. When your number is called present your documents with your passport and pray that everything is fine. If there's a problem then they should let you know at this stage. Stay calm and try to make sure they tell you exactly what you need to do.

If all is well then you'll get a pink slip which will tell you when to collect your passport. You can choose from 1 day, 2-3 days, 4 days processing (with various different prices for each). I recommend the 1-day processing (since the school should pay you back anyway) just in case there are any further problems. I've seen people trying to collect their passports only to find out that there's been a problem with the processing (you still get your passport back but you'll need to apply again). If you do do the 1-day processing then there's a big shopping centre just around the corner from the Visa Office. You can kill time there, get some lunch, coffee and generally mope around until you pick up your passport.

When it comes to collecting your passport, again make sure to get to the Visa Office early to ensure you won't be waiting too long. I picked mine up on the same day and got there 1 hour before the 3pm pick up time. It was lucky I did since there was a long line of people behind me by 3pm.

When collecting your passport you first go the last window on the left (number 14) and pay the cashier. You give them your pink slip, they scan it and tell you how much to pay. They then give you a white receipt which you take to window 12 and use these two to pick up your passport. Hopefully, everything will be fine and you'll be on your way to China! If there has been a problem with the processing then they won't let you pay and they'll make you wait at a different window where someone should come and explain the problem.

***

As I said before, this is all based on my extremely stressful experience. I spent 4 days in a row going to the Visa Office trying to get my visa sorted. Almost everyone else I met had similar problems and issues – all down to a lack of available information on the application process. I hope that this guide can go some way to helping others. If there are any mistakes or things which need updating/editing then please let me know and I'll do my best to keep it up-to-date.

Good luck, and remember to stay calm – it can be a very frustrating experience.

13 comments:

  1. Kirk, let me say first that I used your wisdom and guidance from the very beginning and was comforted by the thought that I had all the necessary paperwork for a smooth visa experience.

    I was wrong. As an American (I'm guessing you're not) both Form A and Form B must have 2 ORIGINAL copies to present (both originals of Form A with photo pasted).

    Another necessary document that goes unmentioned is an Employment Letter from the company you are currently working for in Thailand. This isn't mentioned on the Chinese embassy website, either, but regardless it was a bone of *serious* contention between myself and the woman on the other side of the glass. I just couldn't understand what she was on about, a letter from my employer in Thailand? What the hell for, when they had the original and photocopy of my work permit? I don't for the life of me know, but it was clear my lack of understanding in no way, shape, or form impacted the necessity of this document. And again, NOT mentioned on the Chinese embassy website.

    Finally, the ticket into China must be (a) from Thailand, and (b) *return*. I have trouble figuring this out because if I'm going to work in China then what do they care when I'm travelling out again? Still, it is what it is.

    The Chinese government makes this process unnecessarily complicated and brutal but in the end, it's their sandbox and they get to make all the silly rules. I want to thank you for putting together what you did - did I read that correctly, **4 tries**?? - and I found your advice about when to get there and what to do very helpful, so many thanks for that. I just thought I'd update the situation in case anyone else is looking to make the application go correctly the first time (which I would consider a bloody miracle).

    Brian

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  2. Form A and B are available here:

    http://www.chinaembassy.or.th/chn/lsfw/bgxz/P020110826451842236266.pdf

    http://www.chinaembassy.or.th/chn/lsfw/bgxz/P020110826452062304185.pdf

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  3. I would like to second what Brian said. American citizens definitely MUST have 2 copies of each of the application forms. Both forms MUST have an original photo (identical to the one on your medical form).

    They accepted my application this time without a return flight or a letter from my employer in Thailand, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be an issue when I go to pick it up tomorrow. If it is, I may very well be missing my flight. Maybe it just depends on who you get looking at the application.

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  4. Sorry, I can't remember off the top of my head. Maybe Google it or check the embassy website.

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  5. Brian, thanks for your information.

    Sorry for the late reply - China has a problem with Blogging websites so it's not easy for me to access this page.

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  6. This is very good advice to have!

    My school in China sent my work permit to me via DHL today. I'm expecting it to arrive in Bangkok in a couple of days. What they said to me was 'just go to the embassy with this and your passport.' I'm glad that I know better now.

    One question that I have, is that I know that the visa regulations have been updated since this article was written. All of the documents that you say are necessary, I have already had to send to my university in China, who have then submitted them to the local PSB for approval. Each has been accepted and approved. Do I therefore still have to take them to the Bangkok embassy with me? Or can I do as my school says, and just take the work permit and passport? Did you guys have to submit these documents to China prior to going to the embassy?

    I'll update on how it goes and what documents I need once I've been there.

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  7. I'm not sure to be honest. The safest thing to do is to take everything and anything that you might need (and maybe a photocopy of them too). Ultimately, it's the embassy in Bangkok who will decide what documents you need. Sometimes your nationality can affect who documents they need from you. Best thing to do is go there with everything and try to find out. Hopefully, it'll be alright.

    I seem to remember submitting the documents, but they were mainly photocopies and scanned in.

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  8. Just to add a few things about my experience:

    It was actually completely different to what other people on here have said. Having read this blog and others, I went to the embassy with 65 different pages of documents, that included bank statements, references, medical tests etc., and they had no interest in any of it.

    I arrived at the embassy at 7:40 and was ninth in line. Not many other people joined the queue until about 8:15, which was when it started to get really long and pretty much went around the corner. So I'd suggest getting here before 8:15am. And for how much quicker you get seen when you get inside, it's worth arriving there early. There were four counters processing visas, and I was seen at about 9:10am.

    When I got up there though, she had absolutely no interest in bank statements, flights, accommodation, anything like that. The only thing that she cared about was photocopies of my passport and visas. Everything else she ignored. Which was lucky because I hadn't booked a return flight. But there was no questioning, no request for extra documents, anything like that. I was only at the window for about two minutes, and was out of the embassy again by about 9:15am.

    It's worth noting that they weren't currently doing a one-day service. I had to come back the next day to collect my passport. There is also now only one application form; they've combined the A and B forms together.

    Anyway, the next day (today) I went back. I arrived at 8:45am this time, and was sixth in-line of the people here for collection. And once the embassy opened, it was very quick paying, and then collecting my passport, complete with Z-visa. I was out of the embassy today by 9:10am.

    Perhaps they've changed their requirements, I'm not sure, but I found the whole process to be smooth and easy. There was no questioning, there was no requirement of flights or hotels or bank statements or anything like that, and I spent a total of less than 25 minutes inside the embassy to apply for and collect the visa.

    Maybe I just caught them on a good day, I'm not sure, but I found the process really, really easy.

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  9. Just wanted to add my own experience since my Husband and I have had this page bookmarked for a while.

    Simarly to Jrosworld the actual trip to the consulate went very smoothly, we had actually had lots of problems and delays getting the original documents from China so we were apprehensive about applying.

    We decided to do a recce including timing how long it would take to get to the embassy walking from our hotel and then using the MRT from Sukhumvit (20mins) and when we reached the embassy we collected our forms (UK so only one form required each) and asked to speak to someone so that we could confirm exactly what we would need given our situation. BTW, I highly recommend doing this just because then you can explain any nuances about your own situation that may change the requirements for your application - for example we explained we would be working so did we still need a return flight and hotel booking, we were told no, but we did have to write a letter explaining this and also another letter from our school explaining that they would be helping us look for an apartment after we arrived. As such we also only needed to write the address of our first night hotel in Pinyin in the itinerary with the date we would be flying in as we essentially don't have an itinerary due to work.

    We arrived at the embassy with all of the documents listed in this guide along with these 2 additional letters each. We also took everything from our degrees to TEFL references just in case as we couldn't afford any delays.

    We arrived on Wednesday at 8am and we were 19th in line. We were allowed to move upstairs after 8:30 and grab a ticket and wait until 9. Once we were called the lady basically handed back most of our documents including our medical, flight, bank statement and asked us to quickly go copy the Chinese Work Permit as we hadn't done this - but there's a copy machine in the room and we didn't need to re-queue. The woman then handed us our pink slip at which point we could of kissed her, and told us that we could collect the next morning at 9am (this is using the express option) which would cost 1900b each (UK)

    Today (Thurs) we arrived at the embassy a bit later at 8:25 and were 11th in line. We paid at the cashier then moved to the next window and collected our new Z visas. Easy as pie.

    Both days after 9am the counters were averaging 1 person per minute so we were 19th in line and were seen around 9:19am etc so the queue moved very quickly but I'd definitely recommend going early as the queue was enormous around 8:45am possibly not helped by the double holiday this weekend.

    As with Jrosworld our lady had no interest in our flights, medical and bank statements but when we did our recce we were told they were a definite requirement... perhaps it's a thing where they want to see it but don't actually need it for processing? Either way it's a safe bet to have these items.

    Overall, despite the nail biting it was a very easy process after having confirmed ahead of time what was required.

    ReplyDelete
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