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How to attain and choose the appropriate type of Chinese Visa

There are a few things business professionals should know before navigating the murky waters of Chinese visa options.

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Chinese Visa

Chinese Visa

A cumbersome process

As a world traveler on my second passport in ten years, I’ve had my share of visas, work permits and residency permits in various countries. But no process was more cumbersome than attaining my myriad Chinese visas. Probably, because of all the countries I’ve been to, these visas are the ones I applied for myself. Seeing the inner workings of the Chinese government gave me new insight to the entire process.  As a business woman, I’ve learned some very eye-opening things about the nuances and slight differences between the visas that are suitable for conducting business abroad.

For starters, China is one of the few countries where you MUST have a visa to enter, even if you are just passing through. Of the eight types of visa offerings, most business people will only be concerned with two: Business Visa (F Visa) and Work Visa (Z Visa). While the consulate websites offer detailed information on how to apply for each visa type, the government websites leave out experiential information that elucidate many of the hard-to-answer questions.

What I discovered

Here’s what the Houston Chinese Consulate says about each of the business related visas:

  • Business Visa (F Visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is invited to China for a visit, research, lecture, business, exchanges in the fields of science, technology or culture, advanced study, or internship for a period of no more than 6 months.
  • Work Visa (Z Visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for the purpose of commercial performances or academic exchanges, and to his/her accompanying spouse and minor children.*

But there’s more that determines eligibility and likelihood of attaining each of these visas.

1. Education Matters
In order to qualify for the Z Visa, one must have at least a bachelors degree and 2 years work experience.  In times when a candidate lacks either one of these, an F Visa is given. In these cases, contract terms should be explicitly outlined to protect the foreign employee from any legal issues surrounding payment terms.

2. Desired Outcomes Matter
If the primary goal is gainful employment and a salary, then by law, a Z Visa is needed. As an international lawyer friend pointed out, one can “earn” money on an F Visa, but it must be outlined as a one time fee, commission or other payment structure.

3. Relationships Matter
A strong relationship to a company is beneficial in obtaining a business visa as a letter of invitation is required. On the other hand, one must secure a work permit from a Chinese employer in order to apply for a Z Visa.

How you can be prepared

I’m preparing for another trip to China later this year and had a chance to chat with a foreign business owner in Shanghai. As we traded success and horror stories of getting our visas, we agreed that preparing with enough lead in time was crucial. 

In addition, I urge business travelers to reach out to other international road warriors for tips, tricks and advice. While the visa process is designed to be uniform, not every application is the same. There are various forums and companies that offer support, answers and visa preparation services. Lastly, determine and outline the specifics of your trip. From the delineations above, it’s beneficial to know the purpose and desired outcome of you trip overseas. This will help you narrow down the type of visa you need.

*For more information on Chinese visas, visit the consulate online or in person in your city.

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.

Business News

Bose is closing their retail stores, but we haven’t heard the last of them

(BUSINESS NEWS) Over the last 30 years Bose has become so well understood by consumers that they don’t even need retail stores anymore. We hear them just fine.

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bose closing retail stores

Over the next few months, Bose plans to close all of their retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company made the announcement last week. With 119 stores closing, presumably hundreds of Bose employees will be laid off, but the company has not revealed exact numbers.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the maker of audio equipment is struggling to stay afloat. Rather, the move marks a major change in how consumers purchase tech gear.

When the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company opened its first U.S. retail store in 1993, it was making home entertainment systems for watching DVDs and listening to CDs. According to Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, these first brick-and-mortar locations “gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us” about Bose products. “At the time, it was a radical idea,” she says, “but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now.”

When a lot of this equipment was new, consumers may have had more questions and a need to see the products in action before purchasing. Nowadays, we all know what noise-canceling headphones are; we all know what a Bluetooth speaker is. We’re happy to read about the details online before adding products to our virtual shopping cart. The ability for Bose to close its retail stores is probably also an indicator that Bose has earned strong brand recognition and a reputation as a reliable maker of audio equipment.

In other words, consumers are less and less inclined to need to check out equipment in person before they buy it. For those who do, Bose products can still be purchased at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Apple. But overall, Bose can’t ignore the fact that their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce,” such as on Amazon or directly from their website.

In a statement, Bose also said that it has become a “larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for the country or region.” While Bose is shutting down its retail stores in several continents, it will continue to operate stores in China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

Burke said the decision to close so many retail stores was “difficult” because it “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day.” Bose is offering “outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off.”

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Business News

Finally the American workforce is now mostly women!

(BUSINESS NEWS) Women officially make up more than half the workforce, but that doesn’t mean total equality. So what does this tipping of the scale mean?

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women workforce

Equality for women has finally been achieved: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up more than half of the workforce! That’s it, that’s the article.

Kidding. Just because women are currently in the majority doesn’t mean all their problems are solved.

First, it’s worth noting that although women currently make up more than half of employees on payroll, that number is slight (50.04% to be exact). Not to mention, women are very likely to fall back in the minority once construction – a male dominated profession – picks back up in the spring.

Still, the number of women in the workforce has been growing over the last decade. While jobs in manufacturing – another male dominated field – are dwindling, jobs in education and healthcare are growing. When it comes to K-12 teaching, for example, women are more likely to fill teaching roles. Women also dominate in nursing.

Not to mention, women are earning more degrees than men!

That said, despite this progress, women as a whole are still getting paid less than men. Part of the reason lies in the types of careers that women end up in. Those female-dominated fields we mentioned earlier? They don’t typically pay well. Plus, there’s that pesky glass ceiling that still exists in some fields. Remember, there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

It’s also worth noting that the information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics only covered people on a payroll. That means the growing number of freelancers aren’t being accounted for in the report. Freelancing has become a great way for individuals, often women, to stay home and care for their family while also earning money. It would be interesting to know how freelancers shift the balance, both in employment and income.

Finally, there’s the invisible labor that women often contribute to society. According to the UN, women account for 75% of all unpaid labor – which includes things like childcare, meal prep and cleaning. This is vital labor that is not accounted for by studies like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sheds light into another reason why women might still have lower pay than men, on average.

So, yes, the fact that women make up over half the workforce is something to be celebrated! That said, we’ve still got work to do on the equality front.

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Business News

Interview escape plan 101: Because you definitely need one

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but it seems more people are asked about their personal life. How do you escape this problem?

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Recently, Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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