Some interesting developments with China visas this last month.
First the good news. The Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau has launched an English-language website for visa renewals and I checked it out and it is not bad at all (h/t to Shanghaiist).
Now the bad news. I have received three rather troubling visa related calls in the last month or so. Two of them were from people who had been caught working in China without a work visa (Z visa) and both of them were subsequently denied re-entry visas to China. Both of these people should have set up companies in China but had not done so in order to cut costs and avoid paying taxes. The other person was an employee with a state government in the United States, while vacationing in China was reading up on China cyber hacking and is now convinced that the Chinese government took his laptop at some point when he left his hotel room and then followed him while in China.
The first two people wanted us to call the Chinese Embassy and get them visas and the third person wanted us to do the same, but to tell them that he is not really a spy, rather just a low state government employee with an interest in computers. I told all three that a phone call from an American lawyer would likely have zero effect and that they could better spend their money elsewhere. All three really want to return to China (the first two pretty much need to return to China), but in my experience, once China has put you on a no entry list, it is pretty much impossible to get off it. The government employee is rightfully concerned about returning to China at all and my advice was that he consider vacationing elsewhere the next time.
All three of these people talked about the possibility of “just paying someone off” in China but I explained how that was a bad idea because even trying to do so would put them at risk of getting charged criminally in either China or the United States and that there would be a very good chance that the payment would not work in any event.
Anyone else experience or know of something similar?
UPDATE: A number of people have asked what it was that caused these two people to get caught working in China without a work visa. One of the callers told me he was convinced that he had been reported to the authorities by an employee he had fired a few weeks earlier. The other guy did not tell me and I did not ask. In my experience, these things are about 99% of the time due either to an ex-employee who is angry about having been fired and left without a real company to sue or by an existing employee who has decided that the foreigner is no longer needed and that he or she is now ready to take over the company.