Recently I was approached for a job in Beijing. I won’t say who it was from because quite frankly it isn’t worth my time to get into details. At first it looked like a good position. A good salary for Beijing, job description matches everything I want to get experience in and so far no bad English which is usually a good sign. Then one quick search online and I have uncovered a company who deal in shady internships for foreigners and tell them to arrive in China on tourist visas despite the fact they need work visas to legally work in China. The experience brought me back to a job offer in 2015.
For a lot of people who want to teach in China there is a massive amount of jobs which are going to present themselves as being this experience of a lifetime and to experience China through teaching children at amazing institutions. From reading the advertisements and website pages you would honestly think you had found your calling in life.
In June 2015 I was contacted by a company. I was contacted by a woman, her English was atrocious and she could not write in a professional manner. She told me that her company provides jobs for foreigners looking to teach English in Beijing, with most of the schools being kindergartens. What she of course left out was that they were an agency and were not hiring me directly, but simply being an outsourcing company to hire teachers for schools who otherwise cannot find English teachers.
I decided to ask if I could see the business license of the company. This is a very important step to take when dealing with employers in China. Many companies operate without a business license. This is illegal and can see the owner prosecuted. Asking for the business license is a standard question. I got back a swift reply. I did not change anything, it was written exactly like this.
‘we have business license, but we cant send it to the individual cuz we are afraid that people will take it to do something which is not good for our company, hope you can understand. all of the information you can go our website to check it all as long as you are over 22 years , bachelor degree then no problem thanks Yvonne’
This was perhaps the biggest red flag. A company that does not provide a business license upon demand is hiding something from you. At this stage I had already lost interest in working for them. I knew they were a pyramid scheme, but I really wanted to know just how bad they were.
I then saw what they were offering. There were two contracts, one with accommodation and one without. Those with a bachelor’s degree were paid 500 yuan more than those without. What stood out from this was that they were bringing people to China on the wrong visa. As of 2013, to gain a Z Visa/Work Visa, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Without it you will not be able to gain a work visa unless there is some special circumstance. This company were bringing people to China on L Visas/Tourist Visas and making them work.
This is hardly groundbreaking news. A large proportion of English teachers in China are not on Work Visas anyway. The issue is that if you are caught on the wrong visa, at minimum you will be deported and at worst you could see yourself being detained for either a short or long period of time.
As China grows, more people will come to China, on the contrary, the Chinese government is tightening visa policy for foreign labor force, as a result, more companies like this would risk not playing by the rules, facilitate people to work in China illegally.
For most people it can be chalked up to ignorance, is it the company’s obligation to clarify what type of visa people should be on while working? We come to China with curiosity and passionate, leaving our home and friends behind, spreading our culture, bridging two different people together. We ought to be the last ones to be scammed.
At first I would have taken any job that came my way. After going through almost all job scams in China and not falling for them, I can safely say, go to China when you know you have a job that is secure. The second an employer states that you do not need a Work Visa is the second you should break off contact with them. In China, saying you didn’t know you didn’t have the correct visa will not get you out of trouble. I also think jobs from other expats are more reliable. An expats online community website called antaid.com encourages people to introduce jobs to one another, additionally it job posts are open to comment, people who had the same job could give you value opinions.