How to do the Health Exam inexpensively and Air Tickets (further below)
Please be aware that a health examination is usually required for working papers in China. It must be submitted BEFORE your visa paperwork can be processed on the China side. The health exam is often the #1 thing that delays issuance of your visa. Please read the details about the exam and follow the directions in detail.
After you have signed your contract, the next step is the medical exam and then things get easier as we go though the visa process.
There will still be some little bureaucratic things that we will have to do that may try your patience from time to time, but generally nothing difficult or too time consuming and I can usually tell you some short cuts to getting it done.
Download TWO health examination forms – the one you need to do and one example. I include because particularly for Americans – as the medical system is all out of whack – the exam can be expensive if not approached the right way. These forms will open in a new window.
Do your exam at a college clinic, free clinic, social welfare clinic or similar where the costs will be sane and where the physicians will not see the need to conduct all the possible tests on the form.
Print out and review the example form and NOTE that the physician in this case has written on things like the EKG and Chest x-ray – “no indications” which can mean – there was no indication that such a test was needed. Many physicians can just ask you if you have had this or that, or if you have any symptoms of this or that. What is important is that there be something written in EACH box. Bureaucrats (to whom these forms are going) HATE blank spaces, so it is good to double check your form before you leave the clinic.
Important: If possible ask the clinic to use a stamp with their name and address on or near the signature line for the physician. Chinese bureaucrats like stamps and stamps are sometimes viewed as MORE important than even a signature (cultural differences!). If you don’t get the form stamped, it is possible that you will be asked to return to the clinic and have it stamped and rescanned and resent to China. Fair warning!
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: If you have ANY health concerns at all – EXPRESS them SPECIFICALLY to your physician before departing for China. You are submitting the Medical Examination for VISA purposes – it is NOT truly for a health review though you may certainly request additional tests and examinations.
As always – we will need this form as soon as you get it done. For university, college and international school positions, major holidays are scheduled around the starting time of both the spring and fall semesters, so it is important to get the process moving so you don’t have to arrive late for your position.
A couple other things . . . start researching your plane tickets. China Eastern and China Air tend to be the cheapest but sometimes there are good specials to the region – then you can get the small cheap regional carriers the rest of the way. Some carriers that can – at times – have very cheap flights to the region are Korea Airlines – Asiana (also to Korea), Cathay Pacific (to Hong Kong), Evergreen to Taipei, Malaysia Air also to Taipei. So – there are LOTS of options – best bet is to look in a BIG Sunday newspaper for the super cheap specials on offer.
Plan to arrive at your school close but prior to the beginning of the semester or a few days before your contract is scheduled to begin. Schools are often closed immediately prior to a new term or semester but they will still have someone pick you up at the airport and get you situated in your apartment. If you need to arrive a bit earlier to get a better deal on your plane tickets – personally, I would do that.
Finalization of your visa details can sometimes take longer than expected (maybe 10-15% of the time), so if you need to tie down a date for a good price, be aware that you may need to change it at the last minute to make sure you have your visa before you go. If your start date is a couple months away, try to get the visa process done ASAP and then you can purchase your tickets without last minute anxiety.
No one enjoys visa paperwork and it often seems like things can drag on forever (and sometimes do!), but usually if you follow the steps as we give them to you, things get sorted out. It is not unusual though for your visa to get done just a week before you leave, so keep that in the back of your mind. If you are – like me – someone who likes to wrap things up well in advance, know that you will need to get your paperwork moving as soon as possible. The health exam is often the biggest hang up time wise – scheduling it, getting the exam, getting the results and the needed form filled out, scanned and sent to China – all that can consume more time than you might expect. So, start working on that today!