February 14th, 2008
Since I’ll be working for a university in China, I need to get a working visa, category Z. The people in Beijing sent me scanned copies of my formal invitation letter, and of the ‘Foreign Expert’ document. I also need a medical certificate, but they just said I could get that sorted out when I get there.
So, yesterday I went to the Chinese Embassy. It was the first day that they were open after the Chinese New Year holiday, so it was very crowded. On top of that, the woman who was giving out the queue tickets must have chosen one from the bottom of the pile – I was waiting for a couple of hours, by which time most of the hundreds of other people had gone.
When I got to the window, I was told that I need the original documents, not scanned copies. Plus I have to get the medical examination done here, and I can’t get the visa unless I include a medical certificate with my application.
Off I go to my doctor. What, he asks, is the medical certificate supposed to say? Good question, that. I’d assumed – this being Singapore, with people going to and from China all the time – that he would know, and that it would be a fairly easy procedure. Apparently not, though. Hours of Googling simply inform me that there’s no standard form, and only give me a few ideas of what it’s meant to say. Nobody answers the phone at the embassy when I call to ask them.
I contact Beijing. Oh, they say, the embassy in Singapore must be very strict; most of their foreign teachers, coming from Western countries, don’t have this problem. They all get their medicals done in Beijing.
But, they can’t tell me either exactly what I’m meant to say in this medical certificate. I assume it’s to show no HIV/AIDS, and no TB; that’s what Google suggests. Time is short, though, and I don’t want to turn up next week with an invalid certificate, have more problems at the Embassy, and find myself visaless.
So, it’s back to the Embassy this morning, to queue again (hopefully not for so long today) and clarify this. Then back to the doctor….