Reply To: Married to Chinese Visa Situation

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A little about my situation:

I have a lot of work coming up over the next few months, combined with about three trips abroad, and I’m concerned there’s not going to be enough time to get my visa issue sorted.

I’m technically in full-time employment right now, although actually I left my job about a month and a half ago, I’m working freelance now. But I have a work permit (which is deposited at my previous employer’s offices) and in my passport I have a residence permit (purpose of residence: 工作) that expires on October 31st.

I am married to a Chinese, and I understand I can get a family residence permit if I am married. However, my wife’s Hukou is in Heilongjiang (Haerbin) and she is not technically employed in Shanghai, nor does she have property, a residence permit, or proof of paying taxes in Shanghai (she runs a small business that doesn’t need a license). I phoned up the entry exit bureau in Shanghai and they said I’d need to go to the place where her Hukou is registered to get a residence permit from her.

I have another option, my friend has a company which he no longer needs because he has just been employed by someone else. He’s suggested giving me his company and then I use that to get a visa. It’s probably the best option for me with regards getting a visa at the moment, however when he registered the company it didn’t have any capital and so I know they have been a bit suspicious of him proving he would be able to pay himself a regular salary as an employee of this company. That would be my main concern with this option, that in the end I would not successfully be able to get a visa.

My biggest headache is that I have so much work and travel coming up over the next few months. I can spare a day or two here and there to go to register for my visa, but then I know that there is a period of time where I will be without my passport. I remember last time I got my visa I was without a passport for 3 weeks. I cannot afford to be without a passport for 3 weeks as I have trips to the UK, Japan and Thailand coming up (each trip both for work and pleasure). It is possible to cancel each and every one of these trips, but I really don’t want to do that as it would cost me a lot of money and I would lose business. Luckily the first two trips happen before October 31st when my visa expires, the second one finishing basically on October 30th allowing me to arrive back in China a day before it expires. Then the third trip is 2 and a half weeks after my visa expires.

One other thing for your reference. I’ve been in China for about 8 years, and have only ever been in full-time employment, so I have a good record of successful visas. This will be the first time I am not on a work-permit. I also speak fluent Chinese, so have no problem conversing with the authorities if needs be.

I’m clueless as to what my best option is at the moment, so here are the main questions I have:

1. Is there a fast way of getting a visa? Could I pay an extra fee and get it a lot faster, like within a day or a week?

2. Family residence permit would involve me travelling to Heilongjiang, whereas work residence permit could be done here in Shanghai through my friend’s company (I’m based in Shanghai). Which is better?

3. Is it possible to very quickly get a short-term visa to see me through the next few months, then once all my travelling has quietened down I replace with a longer visa?

Thanks to anyone who can give me advice. An offer of a free lunch for the person with the most useful advice! Cheers!

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