The F VISA and All of the Headaches That Come with It

One day in Hong Kong, I’d been waiting to pick up my passport in the office of a VISA agency. As I waited, I listened, and in the three hours I’d been there, I’d heard 4 different people scream, cry, and ultimately walk away fucked over… All because they’d had an F VISA. The F VISA is a business VISA, intended for factory visits and business meetings, and essentially the poor man’s work VISA. Not only do you have to do a VISA run to leave and re-enter China every 30 to 90 days, but it’s also still illegal to hold a domestic income, and if somebody tells you differently, they’re either lying or have been lied to. Another problem with the F VISAs is that it doesn’t change laterally, meaning that you can only extend one or apply for a tourist VISA, and if you’re planning to change one into an X or a Z VISA, then you’re looking at an expensive flight back to your home country to process it there! There’s a rare exception that allows some nationalities to process it in a country that isn’t directly adjacent to China, such as Thailand or Malaysia, but they 100% aren’t American or British. Worst of all, having had a lot of F VISAs will give you a dirty passport, and this is a massive red flag at the Chinese Embassy. When you’ve been consistently living in China on business or tourist VISAs, staying the absolute longest you could on each, and then immediately reapplying for a new one without ever taking break from your ‘business meetings’ or ‘tourism,’ it’s incredibly obvious to even the most naive of embassy workers that you’ve been doing something shady and probably shouldn’t be in China anymore. A dirty passport will cause any future tourist or F VISA to be heavily scrutinized, more likely rejected, and almost always shorter. Eventually you’ll be denied altogether, forced to find a more legitimate way to live in China. It’s fully understandable why so many people had either broken down or flipped their shit that day, having had no clue about how this VISA worked until it was too late. 99% of the jobs that suggest you work on an F VISA do it for one of these two reasons; they’re either too cheap to pay for the expensive Z VISA process, or too unqualified to legally sponsor you for it. A school that insists on an F VISA is generally one that you should avoid, often an indication that they either don’t value you and won’t treat you well, that they have absolutely no clue what they’re doing, or that they’re operating illegally. If you absolutely feel the need to accept one of these jobs, skip the headaches and complications of the F VISA and enroll in an HSK school instead, where you’ll the X, or student, VISA and a residency permit. Working under either of these VISAs is illegal, but at least as a student you’ll receive a residency permit and Mandarin classes, and since you’ll never need to do a VISA run on the X VISA or risk denial and a flight back home, you’ll definitely be saving money in the long run even after tuition. Take my advice and avoid the Fuck you VISA at all costs.

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