My visa expires before my work permit is ready!

My work permit/ARC paperwork won’t be ready before my visa expires. My employer called foreign affairs today to ask if they would extend a 60-day-no-extension visa while waiting for the paperwork. They said NO. What gives?

I am also enrolled at a Chinese language school and have signed up for another 3 months. The school staff says I could TRY to extend my visa at foreign affairs but don’t expect anything.

Should I just go to the F.A. police anyway and see what happens? If so, should I try to extend on behalf of my job, or my study? Will extending as a student hurt my chances for a work permit later?

What else should I bring, and how much does it cost?

Give me some more information. What is the expiry date? Where is your ARC application process now?

The application process is something like this.

  1. You and the school get everything together, including your health check which takes a week.
  2. You (or technically your employer) give this to the Ministry of Education (MOE) (if you are a teacher) for them to process your work permit (ie the paper that says you’re allowed to work). They take about 3-4 weeks to do this.
  3. You take the papers from the MOE to MOFA, they take this and your passport to process your visa. I can;t remember but I htink this is 3 days (maybe five).
  4. For the visa to be valid you have to take it to the Foreign Affairs Police to validate and issue your ARC. I can’t remember if this takes 1 day or is on the spot.

If you’re at step 3 and MOFA have your passport, it’s absolutely no worries. It doesn’t matter if your visa expires while it’s in their hands.

If you’re at step 2, most people will say you have to go to HK for a visa run. What most people, including most employers, don’t realise, is that you can take the paper from the MOE that says you’ve lodged the application with them and get a visa extension. You have to take it to a different part of the MOFA (a building behind the one you usually go to) though. This only works if you have a ‘visa’ though, not a ‘landing visa’ (which I think is technically visa exemption). Sorry, but I don’t know the details of EXACTLY how to do this, but I do know that it can be done.

If you’re still at stage one, then it probably means that the school hasn’t got their shit together yet. Maybe they haven’t got their licence or maybe they’re just disorganised. Or possibly they’re in the proces of verifying your degree (which can take a week) or something. If this is the case, then you’re lucky you have a 60 day visa. First bet would be to see if you’ve got enough time to get to stage 2, find out exactly how to extend your visa from there (some calls to MOFA from a very patient Chinese speakeing friend), and convince your school that it is possible. If there’s no time for this, weigh up the costs of a visa run to HK to get a 30 day (if that’s going to be long enough) or enrolling in Chinese classes. If you’re really not confident that time is on your side, Chinese classes are the best option. You’ll have to be ‘not working’ when you enrol in the classes. The Chinese school will tell you how to extend your 60-day non-extendable visa (it’s possible and standard practice). Then when you’re ready to apply to the MOE you have to officially stop being a student again! But the extension will still be valid.

Good luck (you’ll need it)

I forgot to add:

What I said goes for English teachers applying through the MOE. You didn’t say whether or not you’re an English teacher. If it’s another field it will be covered by another ministry. I don’t know for sure, but I assume the process is basically the same.


Thank you so much for the info! Yes, I’m teaching English and was rejected by MOE at “step 2” because the health check I got over a month ago is not valid–the hospital was recently taken off the list of approved hospitals, ARGH!! So I just got another health check yesterday and am waiting the “7 business days” for the results, then to submit all the paperwork to MOE again. My visa expires March 6, so I highly doubt it’s enough time.

I’m considering the student extension route, but am worried that this will prevent me from getting a work permit later. Also, what kind of financial info do they want to see? The Chinese school gave me a list of things FA wants to see to extend a non-extendable visa, and included was $4,000 in traveler’s checks receipts, which I DON’T have. Will a bank statement work?

Nobody at the Chinese school or my employer can seem to give me a decent answer about any of this stuff. It’s very frustrating!

Don’t worry about it … make sure all of your paperwork is together, organized, stamped, etc. and as soon as you get your health check back, make sure your employer sticks it into the mail to the MOE immediately. A few days later, your employer will get an official document back from the MOE saying that they have received your application for a work permit and it is in process. Take this document from the MOE, and ask your boss to go to the Foreign Affairs Police with you. They will give you an extension. I did this about 2 years ago and had no problems. They gave me a 30-day extension to allow for my work permit application to be finished processing. You still have time, just make sure that everything is ready to go as soon as you get your medical exam stuff back. Good luck!

I agree. If you’ve got your health check back now, you should have enough time to file the papers with the MOE, get the receipt and go to MOFA. If for some reason you can’t, then go the student route, especially seeing as you’ve already paid the fees. MOFA should accept a bank statement or other proof of funds. I’ve know peopel to borrow for a few days to get the statement. Then the only small hitch is that you have to stop being a student, so once you’ve got your visa extended long enough for the processing, get your Chinese school to write something saying that you’ve stopped studying (you don’t have to actually stop of course). That’s what I did.


I just tried to get an extension but while my work permit is being processed but they won’t budge. The police referred me to MOFA to try and get my 30 day non extendable changed to an extendable . I only need a couple of more days extension but the b$stards at MOFA won’t change my visa… Everybody says they are sorry but can’t bend (but I know that sometimes they can apply the rules as they see fit). For instance beside me was an ABC with a sheath of papers with company stamps and SARS written all over it and I bet you they gave him an extension. The system is so arbitrary here, the manager of the visa office calls it one way or the other every time I go there.

30 days is often not enough time to switch between ARCs and get the paperwork together…the system is so frustrating.