Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Repercussions of the Three Illegals

Cartoon courtesy chinabuzz

You've probably heard of the Chinese government campaign to get rid of hooligan foreigners, a campaign named, of course, in the classic style following the Four Olds and the Five Antis. Unfortunately, while the whole "stop letting foreigners illegally overstay their visas" is a great idea, a policy crackdown has also made getting a student visa particularly difficult.

While the visa requirements don't seem to have changed, consulates are no longer permitting photocopies to slide by where originals are technically required. And, more than ever, rubber stamps make any document that much more acceptable.

Unfortunately, host schools are unwilling to send these precious stamped documents out into the international aether, as replacements are expensive, time-consuming and difficult to obtain. When I taught in China, my universities were equally loath to let me keep my own Foreign Expert Certificate, since I might carelessly set it down in a public bathroom, or leave it on the bus, I suppose.

If students lose their original, rubber-stamped invitations and applications, their presence at the Chinese university is in jeopardy, but without the papers, they're stuck thousands of miles away, flushing anxiety down exemplary plumbing, with Chinese consulates apparently denying photocopy-official students right and left.

While American programs often respond with fast document turnarounds, students enrolling directly in Chinese universities may not be so lucky. Thankfully, those universities have notoriously lax attendance requirements, as evidenced by my darling ex-students, and the foreign students will get a great immersion lesson in linguistics, culture, and the calligraphy of their school address. Pretty neat, eh?

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