AYC Stage 3: Getting the Z-Visa.

After filling out a lot of applications, notarizing, authenticating, waiting, and practicing patience, I am excited to say that I finally have finished all the prep work to be able to live and teach in China!

The main parts of the Pre-Departure/Placement Stage include:

  1. Getting placed at a school and signing their work contract
  2. Notarizing and authenticating your background check and diploma
  3. Applying for your z-visa
  4. Booking your flight to Shanghai

When Aegean warned me that the Placement Stage would be the longest, she wasn’t kidding! For the past 4 months I kept track of everything I did in order get the very important Z-VISA!!!!

April 5th, 2017: I am almost finished with authenticating my documents, which has been a very lengthy process, but I’ll get to that later. I left us off in my last AYC blog post in late March, where I had just been placed at JEPS. After getting acquainted with Jenny, an English teacher at JEPS and also the one who will be working with me to get all the documents in order to apply for my work visa, she sent me the JEPS Work Contract. I  signed and dated on the dotted line and then emailed it back to Jenny. Thankfully, all the documents that have needed to be sent to China have been able to be sent by PDF through email! I can’t imagine how long this would take if everything had to be mailed (which apparently is what had to be done last year with all the EAs)!!!

1. Getting placed at a school and signing their work contract CHECK

April-June, 2017: Way back in February, I was told that my diploma and background check would need to be notarized, and possibly authenticated, depending on where I would be teaching in China. I had no clue how to do either. Aegean and friends were very helpful though, and I learned that for notarizing your documents, you just have to Google where to find a public notary in your city. After getting both documents notarized, I prayed that this was all I had to do to prove that my documents were not phony! …unfortunately, this was not the case. I was informed a few weeks after I got the documents notarized that they would have to pass through two more parties:

  • Authentication by The Secretary of State (located in Lincoln, NE for me)
  • Authentication by The Chinese Consulate (located in Washington, D.C.)

ON TOP of that, I also had to get the documents authenticated by the U.S. Department of State (located in Washington, D.C.) just because I live in good ol’ Nebraska. All I can say is that China clearly takes education and criminals very, very seriously.

May 30th, 2017: Anyhow, authentication at The Secretary of State was a quick step for me, because I live in Lincoln, which is where Secretary of State Office is located! I just had to bring my documents and $20 to the office, and they did cool things on the computer, printed off the official authenticated papers, signed and stapled them, and I was sent on my way.

Authentication by The Secretary of State CHECK

June 13th-26th, 2017: Next stop: U.S. Department of State. I was given careful instructions to not rip staples from papers or take off bindings, to preserve the authentication as much as possible. I took my documents to UPS, paid for express shipping and sent the documents off!

June 28th, 2017: I received my authenticated documents back from D.C. today!

Authentication by U.S. Department of State CHECK

After letting Kelly (the Marketing and Recruiting Coordinator for Ameson at the Washington, D.C. office) know, she then sent me the list of everything she needed me to mail to her for the final authentication step at the Chinese Consulate.

July 5th, 2017
I received a lot of emails today.

  • Kelly sent me an email letting me know that my documents have been successfully authenticated by the Chinese Consulate and would be mailed back to me by July 12th!

Authentication by The Chinese Consulate CHECK

  • Jenny emailed me my Notification Letter of Work Permit today, which means I can now apply for my Z-Visa! Kelly will represent me again in D.C. to help me apply for the visa.
  • Sheila sent out a short email letting me know that orientation week will be held in Shanghai, from August 14th-21st!! I finally have a date I will be leaving!!!!!! Hurray! She specifically explained though, not to buy a plane ticket until I have my actual work visa in hand.

2. Notarizing and authenticating your background check and diploma CHECK

July 12th, 2017
I received my z-visa in the mail today, and purchased my plane ticket to Shanghai! I will be headed out into the great unknown in the wee hours on the morning of August 13th! With a huge amount of relief and satisfaction, I then emailed Sheila my flight information, ending the long and stressful phase of Placement!

3. Applying for your work visa CHECK

4. Booking your flight to Shanghai CHECK

Well there you have it folks, my pre-departure process to China is complete!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I don’t think any amount of exclamation points will give this feeling of elation justice!)

Next Stop: Shanghai!

Until next time,
Heather Mei

 

P. S. Recently, I was scrolling through my old photos on Instagram and came across this post…

13923353_1066623570039491_7920256769890025055_o
Caption: Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with High Distinction in 3 years! Can’t wait to see what this next chapter of life brings me!! #UNL #ClassOf2016! 8.13.16.

There I am with the hugest of smiles, surrounded by my friends. Date posted? August 13th, 2016. I don’t remember exactly what was racing through my mind in this photo. THough, I do know that I was really proud of my accomplishment and felt very loved by my friends. However, I am certain that I was not considering packing my bags to live and teach abroad in China…and now look what has happened. 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 12.47.59 AM

It’s pretty crazy how life works out. One day I am graduating from college, and exactly one year later, I am on a flight to teach English in China.

Key:
A Year in China (AYC): “A program offering opportunities for college graduates to spend a year teaching, learning, and making a difference at public schools across China,” through the company, Ameson. Check them out at: http://www.goayc.org
Educational Ambassador (EA): That’s me! The Americans that go to China to teach English and share American culture
Jiangshan Experimental Primary School (JEPS): My own, unofficial, acronym for the school I will be teaching at.
Jenny: A teacher working at JEPS, whom is helping me get all my documents in order to teach in the fall.
Regional Placement Liaison (RPL): That’s Sheila. The person working at Ameson’s office in Shanghai, who is responsible for placement, processing of documents, and facilitating communication between the EA and their host school. There are many RPLs, representing many different regions of China. Essentially, the RPL is the EA’s life line between the USA and China, prior to arrival, and then the life line between the EA and their school, once in China.

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