I have a legendary story about how I got my first job in advertising. I wrote a letter seeking advice regarding what to do with foam rubber sumo wrestler. I hoped that my letter–or at least picture of this monstrosity– would lead to an interview.

It didn’t.

The letter lead to a job offer at an agency bigger than wrestler’s behind.

Never again will getting a job be as easy. Not even in China where English is the newest currency. Working here involves a lot or red tape, a roll big enough to wrap around the Great Wall a few times.

A resume, letters of recommendation and peeing in a cup for a medical check-up are the easy part of the visa process. The ball-busters are items that have to be authenticated.

China, the country that bootlegs everything from baking soda to designer fashions, is skeptical of the legitimacy of documents. Your college diploma, background check and other documents have to verified by the government to be real.

The process varies from state to state and is even more difficult when you are eight thousand miles away from your Alma mater. Let’s start with that diploma. It has to be sent to the Office of the Registrar to get notarized. Next, it has to be sent to the Secretary of State to receive a seal or stamp or another piece of nonsense proving that notary stamp was not created by Photoshop. Finally these documents –which are bound together by a wafer thin gold seal– have to make a trip to the Chinese Consulate along with a check for twenty five dollars or your first born son.

Nix that idea: you’d have to get a birth certificate for that child authenticated, too.

Since I was still on the flipside trying to do all of this, this process required one more thing: help from state side friends.

My diploma was a piece of cake compared to my background check.

Since I couldn’t Fed Ex my hand to the Michigan State Police, I had to get fingerprinted in Kunming. You can’t do this anywhere, but have to make an official appointment at the Notary Agency to ensure that an English translator is available, not just to help with phrases such as “Roll your right pinky here”, but to translate the thirteen pages of forms into English then back to Chinese.

I ended up with a dossier that had to be mailed to the State of Michigan Police Department along with a personal check.

As if I had my checkbook in China.

After the background check was completed, it had to receive the Great Seal then continue to the Chinese Consulate. My brother in law played postman, helping mail these time sensitive documents to the correct places. He had to have emergency heart surgery right in the middle of the mess, which I think he orchestrated to get out of the process.

He’s OK and all of my documents are back in China ready to get the VISA process rolling.

This is what an authentication sticker looks like:

This process is a heck of a lot different than a few years back when all that was needed to renew our Visa was valid marriage license–or car title. Let me explain. I grabbed the squiggly bordered document  by mistake from our “important paper folder” and no one seemed to notice. Not even the official who now requires all of the aforementioned.

They sorta look alike…don’t they?  Maybe that’s the reason there’s now an authentication process:

If you need documents authenticated and do not have a car title to use for your marriage license, VisaRite  a good place to look at what is required for each state.



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