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Steps I took for a new visa after moving out of province

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Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 46
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:28 pm    Post subject: Steps I took for a new visa after moving out of province Reply with quote

Like many people, I found myself in a situation this year of needing authenticated documents when I moved from Nanjing to Shanghai. Due to the fact that my residence permit was soon expiring and my oh so lovely school is clueless about the new regulations, I had to go to Hong Kong and get a tourist visa temporarily while I waited for my documents (the school paid hehe). Here are the steps I took to get my documents without going home. I'm hoping this will be of some use to others who have some questions. This is for US citizens by they way...


This process took about 3 months for me to complete. The first step is to obtain a notarized copy of your diploma. How is that possible if you aren’t at home and able to go to the notary and a notarization in China won’t work? Well, you can have the school registrar notarize it for you instead. This was the step I had to take. This process took the most time because, in order to get the notarized copy (the school refers to it as an apostille), I had to order a new diploma. It took 6 weeks for that to be delivered to the school. The registrar’s office then had to make a copy of it, put the required statement on the back, and notarize it. With mailing time, the total time was 7 weeks. Your school may be different with mailing times in this regard. In fact, you should contact your school beforehand to see if there is a way to shorten the process because if you have someone bring your diploma in person for you, it is likely they will do it on the spot. After I received it back, I had to send it to the Secretary of State to be apostilled. Certain states may require further authentication with the USDS. Luckily, I didn’t need to take this step because my diploma is from Texas. It took about 2-3 weeks for me to receive my apostilled diploma back from the Secretary of State. Once you receive it back, it can be sent to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate for authentication. For this, I chose CVSC because their prices were good and they answered my questions well and in a timely manner. Their website is I sent it to their office in Houston and they took it to the Chinese Consulate in Houston for processing. It took about one week.

Visarite also has this service, however when I called to ask questions about the process to make sure I was following their steps correctly, the person I spoke to was very rude. He literally told me he was too busy to answer my questions. I was actually going to choose them, but after that conversation, I chose not to. Their website for diplomas is They may not be very personable, but they have laid out the steps for authentication very nicely.

FBI Background Check:

This one was much trickier. In order to get a background in the US, you must have fingerprints. Well, how do you do that when there’s no place in China that takes fingerprints? At least not for a reasonable price anyway… Interestingly, I had already planned a trip to Korea this summer. Knowing that they do fingerprints at any of the major police stations, I bought some of the FBI required FD-258 fingerprint cards on eBay and had my dad mail them to me. You can also find these online and print them onto cardstock and it will work just fine. Now, this was a time sensitive issue, so an additional step I took was to utilize Accurate Biometrics. Their website is They do require 2 sets of fingerprints, however, and each police station in Korea will only do one set for you because it’s free. So, I had to go to 2 different police stations. If anyone has any places in China they could recommend for fingerprints, please share it in the comments as I’m sure not everyone will just happen to have planned to go to Korea like me. This was just luck that I had already planned this trip before needing to do this. I also know that you can get your fingerprints taken at the main police station in Hong Kong. That may help as well.

After I got the fingerprints, I mailed them along with the required forms from Korea to Accurate Biometrics. You can find the forms on their website. The package got there in one week and I had my background check 24 hours after that. They will send you a pdf copy that you can print out yourself or you can elect to have a copy mailed to you as well. Since my dad helps me to mail all of these things, I had one mailed to him to make it easy on him. The total cost including the mailed copy was $55. It took about a week for that to arrive. Once that arrived, I mailed that to CVSC again. However, this time you must send it to the office in D.C. regardless of where you live (for an FBI background check). It is also important to note that the background check must be notarized by the USDS. This process will take 4 days and the authentication process will take 10 business days once the documents are delivered to the embassy. CVSC will do both and the cost of the entire authentication and return overnight mailing was $221. I also found another website that claims to charge $195. They state that you can email them the pdf copy of the background check to save time, which would be nice if you’re in a rush. I chose to stick to CVSC because I thought they were going to be cheaper and things went well with my diploma. I wish I had gone with this other company because it would’ve been faster and cheaper. I’m mentioning it to give you all the option.

So, the entire process for the background check took me 6 weeks from the date I mailed it in Korea. I mailed it on August 14th and I received it back on September 27th. In fact, there was a hiccup with the mailing process that cost me a week of time, so I think it could be even shorter if you use this same process. Hopefully this helps anyone struggling with the new guidelines. It was hard for me to sort through everything, so I wanted to share the knowledge I’ve learned. If anyone has anything to add, especially for other country’s processes and places to get fingerprints done, that would be great!

Also, as an additional note, my school had told me that we could convert the tourist visa to a work visa here in Shanghai without me leaving the country and getting an entirely new visa. Unfortunately, the person handling my visa made a mistake and included a document that said I had been working while I was on the tourist visa (it had my contract dates during the time when I had the tourist visa). So, I had to leave and go to Hong Kong for one day (luckily the school paid again). I left and came back the same day. I had to go downtown to get my visa rather than my local police station, however I was able to do it in country. I didn't have to get a completely new visa and pay any extra fee. This is likely not an option for every city, but if you're in Shanghai it's a consideration.

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Joined: 09 Dec 2016
Posts: 162

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of job are you working at: University, Public School or Private Academy. It is mind boggling that people who you work for were unsure of the new visa process.

Reading the threads on these forums have turned me off of China for now. Maybe in a couple of years when the visa requirements are crystal clear, I will consider going there.

To me, these visa laws sound similar to the ones in South Korea.
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