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Tightening policies lead some foreigners to marry Chinese citizens [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2018-4-20 09:35:51 |Display all floors

(Global Times) Frank (pseudonym) from Iceland has been dating his Chinese girlfriend for two years. Last month, they finally tied the knot. However, the marriage is not only to celebrate their love; it's also to help Frank to get a Chinese visa and stay in the country.

"I proposed to my wife last year, and we had planned to get married at the end of this year, instead of in March like we did," Frank explained.

He was looking at his visa one day when he realized that his work visa was going to expire in March, so they decided to expedite their marriage process.

"This kind of situation and arrangement is more common than people think," Frank said. He now lives with his wife and works in China on a spousal visa, which is illegal.

According to Frank, the tightening visa policy and the attraction of career development opportunities are the cause of it.

"Everyone wants to go to the country where the economy develops the fastest, presents abundant work opportunities and pays well. Now, that country is China," he said.

"I think China's work visa is already very difficult to get for many foreigners. In that situation, if they happen to have a Chinese partner they love, then it's reasonable to tie the knot to make things easier."

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Post time 2018-4-20 09:36:13 |Display all floors
Love him, let him stay

For Frank to stay in China, he needs to sign a contract with a company that can sponsor a work visa. But he doesn't want to work for companies anymore. Frank has a finance company in Iceland and is hoping to work as a consultant in China and handle financial cases himself. His ultimate goal is to start his own company in the country.

Although their wedding ceremony will be held in Frank's home country in August 2019, they are already married in legal terms.

"My fiancée and I decided to bring forward our schedule to get the marriage certificate so that I could stay in China on a spousal visa and consult," he said.

Frank said he knows it's illegal to work on a spousal visa but that many of his foreign friends do it, and they rarely get caught.

"Our love and marriage are as pure as any other couple's. It's just that life is complicated, especially when you are in a foreign country, so we make adjustments that make sense," Frank said.

Frank's wife Ivy Liu also spoke to Metropolitan.

"To me, he is a very upstanding guy. I love him, and we are a perfect match for each other in many ways. I don't care when I get married to him. As long as it's him, it's fine," Liu said.

"It's just an adjustment we made due to our situation. I don't think he is really after my Chinese passport. But I still make fun of him from time to time, saying that he only married me to stay in China."

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Post time 2018-4-20 09:36:52 |Display all floors
Questionable alternatives

Peter (pseudonym) from Ukraine is in the same situation as Frank.

Peter married his Chinese girlfriend last year, and they just had a baby girl.

"I love my girlfriend very much. I am very committed to this relationship, and she knows it, so we decided to get married earlier," Peter said.

He has been working as an English teacher in Beijing for five years. However, as the requirements for foreign English teachers became more stringent, Peter can no longer get a work visa.

China implemented a new work permit policy for foreigners in September 2016. Under the new system, foreign workers are put into categories A, B or C. Those who are classified as A class are considered top talent while B class is for professionals and C class is for unskilled workers or those working in the service sector, Beijing Evening News reported in 2016.

David Shang, a senior consultant from, a website that connects Chinese employers to foreign workers, found that ever since the new policy came into effect, it has become more difficult for foreigners to get a work visa.

"Many of the foreigners who do not specialize in technology-based services or who lack a good educational background and work experience will either choose to work in other countries or work in China illegally," Shang said.

Under the new policy, foreign English teachers should be native English speakers with a bachelor's degree from their home country and two years of teaching experience. Before this new policy, non-native English speakers could work as an English teacher if they have a bachelor's degree from an English-speaking country.

"In the English teaching industry, the employee composition of the industry is quite a mixed bag. Many of the foreign employees work illegally using travel visas, spousal visas or fake certificates," said Shang.

No longer able to work due to the changes, Peter found himself in a somewhat similar circumstance.

"Based on the situation, I had two choices: to get married to my Chinese girlfriend ahead of schedule to work in China on a spousal visa, or go to another country every three months to get a new travel visa," Peter said.

Mary Jane (pseudonym), an American and a former teacher, explained that it is common for foreigners with a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa or those who have a business visa, to simply exit China and re-enter the country to reset the amount of time they are allowed to stay in the country.

"It is referred to as going on a 'visa run,'" she said. "Each time, the foreigner can stay in China for 60 days or 90 days. The most popular and economical destination for this practice is Mongolia or Hong Kong."

"It's common knowledge for expats in China. Everyone knows it, and many people have done it," Peter said.

For instance, one of his Ukrainian friends would go to places like Mongolia every three months to get a travel visa and return to teach English for an agency in Beijing.

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Post time 2018-4-20 09:37:47 |Display all floors
Choosing a legal path

The high demand for talents in China and the raised bar regarding foreign employees are part of the reason some expats turn to working illegally on a spousal visa or tourist visa, according to Peter.

The situation is especially serious in the teaching industry.

In a previous Global Times report in January 2017, Grant Dou, the owner of Panda Guides, a Beijing-based expat service provider that includes foreign teacher recruiting, estimated that over one million foreign language teachers would be needed to meet the demand in the Chinese market.

Last year SAFEA (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) issued over 250,000 foreign expert certificates. But according to the new policy, less foreigners will meet the requirements and only over 40,000 people will be able to get work permits, said Dou.

"Under the current situation, some schools or recruiting agencies will have to work in the gray area and use illegal teachers," he said.

But foreign English teachers who do so are at risk of deportation.

"There was an inspection last October, and several of my foreign friends who were working illegally at English teaching agencies got fined and deported," Peter said.

Despite the challenges, Peter is still optimistic. He has not given up on getting a work visa.

"Our life is still quite unstable. I am still trying to get a work visa so that I could make sure I will be with my family all the time," he said. "[I want to] be here for my little girl every step of the way."

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Post time 2018-4-22 11:11:50 |Display all floors

Dosh! Another growth "industry" with Chinese characteristics! Maybe there is hope for some leftover Chiense men to get hitched?

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Post time 2018-4-22 11:13:15 |Display all floors
if "Frank" is an Icelander (look at the picture!), then I am a Sandman who emigrated from the Moon to Earth!
Frank looks like an old Chinese man, hardly like a Scandinavian Icelander.

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Post time 2018-4-22 11:18:45 |Display all floors
China just loosened its foreign English teacher requirements anew to accommodate Filipino English teachers and thus do Rodrigo Duterte a massive favour. Peter from Ukraine, however, cannot hope to get his situation legalized. His Chinese partner will have to officially "invite" him every time his residence permit expires.

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