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Ambiguous Visa Requirements for Expat English Teachers
Published on: 2017-11-06
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041The market demand in China for expat English teachers is commensurate to Chinese parents’ willingness to pay much more for an “authentic” native speaker. Against the potential to capitalize on the increase of the profit margin, recruitment by employment agencies affirms the tendency to engage in illegal employment of foreign English teachers at the risk of breaking the law.

On the one hand, documents issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) on visa requirements state that an applicant should: 1. Hold a bachelor’s degree; 2. Have two years of teaching experience. Yet, inherent contradictions within the state policy obstruct the goal it proclaims to achieve.

051One inconsistency consists in the tightening standards for obtaining a Z VISA, which is necessary for foreigners to procure a legal working status in China. Since April 2017, the variety of required credentials have expanded to divide foreign workers into three classes, testifying to an increased strictness on the level of verification: A (high level talents), Class B (professional personnel), Class C (foreigners who are nontechnical or service workers hired on a temporary/seasonal bases), reported Saporedicina. Yet, linguistic obscurity within the clause gives flexibility of open interpretation to employment agencies incentivized by the low cost of illegal hiring.

044The structural paradox is perpetuated in the contention between foreign teachers sent away before completing their contracts due to failed materialization of documents from respective offices of the bureaucracy, and those instructed by recruiters to lie on their visa application to obtain work visas. In other words, policy no longer dictates.

043The determination of a legal labor relationship between foreign teachers and their assigned companies comes under jurisdiction of the third party. The third party oftentimes carries out inherent contradictions within the policy for private gains. In cases of a non-existent labor relationship, access to arbitration is denied to “the foreign national illegally”, and no recourse is granted for teachers to reclaim credentials and money intercepted by their agencies.

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