Step 8: Apply for Residency Permit

After solving the confusion with the syphilis test, I was told that everything was good to go.  We just needed to wait for the paperwork to all be assembled.  Then I would make some copies and take all of the items to the “Ministry of Public Security’s Bureau of Exit and Entry.”  We had five work days or so before the deadline, and so I relaxed.  But Friday, September 18 at 4:30 was my last chance to get everything in on time.

As the days ticked by without word from HR, I could see where things were heading.  I prepared myself for a last minute sprint on Friday afternoon.  The chances that I would need to rush everything there on my own were really good. 

In case there was ever any doubt, I am now formally considered an expert.  At least by the Chinese government.

In case there was ever any doubt, I am now formally considered an expert. At least by the Chinese government.

As it turned out, I was correct.  I received the paperwork at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, spent 10 minutes making copies of everything, and 10 minutes grilling the HR Director on what I should expect.  My hope was to anticipate every possible thing that could go wrong and prepare for it.  I asked her to verify my plan for taking the subway, asked her what specific exit I should take out of the subway (turns out to be B), how far the walk would be and in which direction.  I even asked her to write down the name of the office in Chinese so I could ask people for directions if necessary.  Finally, I had heard that there were traffic disruptions all over the city due to preparations for national day, and I double checked that the subways were not going to impacted where I was.

So at about 1:20 I headed out.  It took me about one hour to get to the Yong He Gong subway stop.  Once there, it took another 20 minutes to walk to the building.  I must have asked 5 people for directions along the way just to make sure I didn’t miss it or make the mistake of following the wrong path for too long. 

That put me at about 2:40 when I found the right building.  Once inside, I had to find the right office.  I found one that looked about right, but rather than wait in a line that might not be right I did a full circle around the entire place.  It turned out that the actual line I needed was on the other side.  I tried to get in line and was told by a volunteer that I needed to get a ticket and wait.  I did.

This was the waiting area for the foreign residency permit.

This was the waiting area for the foreign residency permit.

About a half hour later (now 3:15), my number was called and I stood in line to see the next available agent.  I was relieved when the woman who greeted me was very nice and helpful.  She told me though that I was missing one copy.  So close to being done, I was bummed by the fact that I needed to run another errand.  But she told me exactly where to go and said she’d save my spot.  I quickly ran to get a copy and came back.  She gave me a receipt and told me to come back in a week.  It was about 3:30 and I had made it with only one hour to spare.  Barely legal.

This was the service area for the foreign residency permit.

This was the service area for the foreign residency permit.

On the way out, I realized that I would have to blog about this experience, so I snapped some pictures.  One of the guards told me to stop.  Not wanting to test my luck with China’s legal system twice in a day, I apologized and moved on quickly.

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