“Your Chinese visa…”…is expired!

So we have been in the country for 54 days now; our 60 day tourist visa (“L”) will expire next Saturday. We have to leave the country by next Saturday. Although there’s actually a little give on this if you overstay your visa; apparently it’s a $40.00 per day fine, but if it’s just a couple of days, you can usually talk your way out of it when going through immigration. As my father put it, the immigration officer has no real easy way to accept your money, and there are very long lines.

We were originally supposed to have switched to working visas (“Z”) by now already, but somewhere along the processing line, the ball was dropped and we’ll have to start that process over. Once that’s done though, we should be able to stay in the country for a year at a time, maybe even two depending on how we do the renewal. But that will have to wait.

We were going to try to extend our tourist visas. The longest you can stay in the country on one of those is 90 days, and we’ve only been here for 60. I went down to the local visa issuing bureau, another one of those monolithic buildings in architectural praise of the all mighty power of bureaucracy, and, if I gave them a good reason why I wanted to stay, they’d let me, for another 30 days. The problem with extending it though is that it will void my current multiple entry visa. I think something along the lines of you’re only allowed to hold one visa into the country at a time, and the extension will count as a brand new 30 day tourist visa. Now we don’t want to lose our multiple entries, because it’s convenient. Plus, on top of voiding our current visas, we need to have a domestic bank account, in our name, with $3000.00 on deposit, each. Granted we need domestic bank accounts in our name anyways, but there’s just not enough time to process all of this! And I have to wonder, what tourist would have a local bank account, in their name, and that much cash when you can just use any ATM to get money from your US accounts?

The other option was to get an “F” visa, which is for foreigners coming with intent to find a job, which lasts for six months. That’s its own bureaucratic nightmare, needing certified letters of invitation from a company, etc. The grand plan had been to take a 24 hour train down to Hong Kong, which counts as leaving the country for some reason, trying to apply and get an “F” visa while there, and failing that, just come back into the country on our next “L” visa entry.

Then we were thinking of flying down, because we don’t have enough time to devote 48 hours to travel.

Then the “F” visa option was starting to sound stupid and not worth it, and my father assures me he’ll have our “Z” visas squared away as soon as possible.

So now, we’re going to Korea! Woot? I’ve never been there, never had any plans to go there, know nothing about how to get there, what to do when we’re there, etc. But we did get a really good price on the airplane tickets. Unfortunately we were unable to book a flight there and back on the same day (it’s only a two hour flight to Seoul) due to the last minute nature of our booking. So we get two days and two nights in Korea. Again, woot?

To sum up then:
“F” visa: stupid.
“Z” visa: get it ASAP!
“L” visa: multiple entries, good, losing said multiple entries for an extension, bad.

It’s my fault, really. I should have been better on top of what was going on with our working visa process. Ah well. It’s actually a horrible time for me to be leaving the country right now. My restaurant’s renovation is nearing completion, so is my apartment’s, hopefully, I have two concerts to give within the next two weeks, and it’s my birthday. Ah well. It’ll be sorted. At least it’ll be a mini-adventure to Korea!

Edit: apparently Obama’s also visiting Seoul…….??????


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