Tips for Crushing Your Visit to the Chinese Consulate

I made four trips to the Chinese Consulate in Houston when I was preparing to move to China. I would like to impart to you the wisdom I gained through trial and error. Employ it or learn from your own mistakes, like I did.

  • Arrive first thing in the morning. Lines form very quickly. If you get your documents in early, you can plead your case and pay a little extra money for same day processing. Even if visa or courier services and the Chinese Consulate website tell you that your Consulate doesn’t do this… as of January 2017, the Chinese Consulate in Houston did it for me. Tell them you live far and you can’t come to pick up in person.*
  • Forms submitted to the Chinese consulate should be TYPED in ALL CAPS, and printed single sided. Have a copy for them and a copy for you. A digitally saved version is always nice as well.
  • Payment is typically done with a money order. I recommend leaving the payment for section blank because they want specific wording.
  • Visa or courier services can be helpful but they will likely tell you a few things that aren’t accurate. I was quoted much higher prices than the Consulate charged; I was also told that same day processing isn’t possible. I wouldn’t know these things were inaccurate had I not gone in person to handle my own documents.
  • If you are applying for a tourist visa as well as getting your documents certified, you should probably make separate trips to the Chinese Consulate. Actually, you will most definitely have to make more than one trip because the information you’re using to get the tourist visa is not going to be accurate**, and applying for document verification for working in China at the same time as you’re swearing that you’re just visiting will raise some Chinese Consular Official eyebrows.

There. That’s all I’ve got. I hope it’s helps you. I’ll update you if and when I get more information. I promise. Tell me about your Chinese Consular experience in a comment. Your experience may help a peer.

*I gave a friend this same advice when she applied for her L visa to come visit me in June 2017 and she was refused same day service. Just try. Smile a lot and if you’re frustrated and feel your eyes getting extra shiny from extended pathetic eye contact, let the tears fall and crash around you. I didn’t try it but it might work. Their website also says they don’t do mail service, but they mailed my friend’s visa to her.

**note that I would never officially endorse using inaccurate information on a visa application but I’ll tell you how I did it and why.



Chinese Consulate Document Verification

So you’ve found a teaching job in China! Congratulations! Now it’s time to get your documents together AND the best part: get them verified by the Chinese Consulate!

This is… umm… this probably won’t be fun but if you follow my instructions, you’llĀ  save money and time. I didn’t have a post to follow. You lucky dog.

This was the most stressful part of my move to China. I hope the details I have provided below are helpful. Please note that this information is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of January 2017. It is based on my personal experience. Your individual experience may vary. Feel free to let me know how your process worked in a comment or email. The description of your struggle, or lack thereof could help a peer.

If you don’t have the time to deal with all of this… and it DOES take time… and money… I’ll link a site to a company who offers Chinese Embassy legalization in the US. You should still read my post, though. If for no other reason than my comedic sense.

There are two main documents that the Chinese consulate will need to verify as a part of your Z visa application: your university diploma and your criminal background check. For the background check, there are two steps. For the diploma, there are three steps. I’ve also included a short section of anecdotal tips about the Chinese Consulate.

Leave yourself as much time as possible to complete the following to save yourself stress and money.

Background Check:

Don’t get a Federal FBI background check. You don’t need it! Most people get a state or even a local one and it’s just fine. If you do end up getting an FBI background check, it’s ok. I got one. It’s going to be annoying and potentially expensive because you will need it to be certified at BOTH the US Secretary of State in DC* AND the Chinese Embassy in DC. Unless you live in Washington DC, you will probably have to pay a company $100 or more to drop off and pick up your documents.

*I will note here that evidently there is a box you can check on the FBI background check which will automatically get you an apostille from the US Secretary of State. This could save you some money and time.

Step 1: Apostille
If you got an FBI check, you can only get an apostille from the US State Department. If you got a state or local check, an apostille can be obtained from the Secretary of State in your State’s Capital, or anywhere the Secretary of your State has an office that issues apostilles. For Texas, it’s only Austin. Call ahead to made sure they have jurisdiction over your document. If they don’t they’ll be able to tell you who does have jurisdiction. An apostille can be obtained via mail as well if you don’t want to go in person.

Step 2: Chinese Consulate
Take your

  • original document with the apostille,
  • the TYPED and printed form for Chinese Document
  • a printed and digital copy for your records and easy editing if necessary,
  • your passport,
  • copies of your passport and any visas in it,
  • be prepared to get a money order to pay for the authentication process, which you’ll provide when you pickup your documents.

Stand in line and nod appreciatively when it feels appropriate.

Note that I was told different things regarding whether or not I had to get my original diploma folded, marked up, stamped, stapled, and stickered. I happen to accidentally have two original copies of my university diploma, so I was alright with having all of the above done.

Step 1: Notarization
Take your original diploma to your university and have them notarize it, stating that it’s
real and you earned it. You can complete this step by mail as well.

Step 2: Apostille
Take your notarized diploma to the Secretary of your State. See Background Check>
Apostille section for more information.

Step 3: Chinese Consulate
Take the original document with the apostille to the Consulate. See Background Check>
Chinese Consulate section for more information.

Stand in line and nod appreciatively when it feels appropriate.

That’s it!
Only a Kori could complicate that process. I mean.. only a Kori could explain that complicated process.

You’re one step further on your journey. Please check out my other posts for more information about the visa process, finding a job, life in China, why I chose China, learning Chinese, and… other stuff.