In late October I took up a consulting offer from a small US company operating in Shenzhen, China. After a medical checkup, rounds of photographs, lots of paperwork, procuring my original diploma, and visiting various government bureaus in China and their Los Angeles consulate, in early December I successfully secured a Z (work) visa allowing me to enter China for up to 30 days to go through the procedures for obtaining a work and resident permit. I was given a work permit from the central government labor bureau, but was not approved for a resident permit by the local police branch. I could work in China but not live there, and had to leave by the end of January.
The reason the police branch gave for its non-approval was the size of the company’s registered office: too small. This is despite the fact that the office location I was to work in was a lot larger than the company’s address on record, that this detail was not flagged earlier nor had stopped me from obtaining my Z visa or work permit, and if office size was even a consideration at all.
I got word of the outcome via a phone call less than a week before the country receives a week-long holiday for Chinese New Year. In other words, the police were to go back to work the day my Z visa validity expired. I had no recourse.
Is this a case of “the mountains are high and the emperor is far away”; with the central government wanting skilled foreigners, but the local police branch in the run up to Chinese New Year stemming the flow in an attempt to extract bribes?