Quick Takes on Visa Law News

Daniel Bell, Why Anyone Can Be Chinese (Wall St. Journal, July 14, 2017): Daniel Bell is a Canadian by birth who has who has taught political science in China for twenty years, speaks Chinese, and studies Confucian philosophy. In this essay, he writes, “I identify with Chinese culture” but objects that “no one considers me Chinese” because he is white. He wishes that China would “embrace those” like him “who meet the cultural criteria of Chineseness.” He recommends that China institute a “meritocratic immigration policy open to all.” / Bell’s most recent book, The China Model (2015), analyzes the philosophical and practical flaws of democracy, while arguing for the “China Model” in which a society’s leaders are chosen on the basis of meritocracy–through examinations and performance evaluations. Let’s put aside momentarily the question of to what extent China’s party-state really is meritocratic. Let’s also put aside the question of whether embracing “the cultural criteria of Chineseness” equates to merit. Bell’s yearning to belong is understandable because it is a primal, universal urge. But how can his proposed “meritocratic immigration system” overcome racial conceptions of what it means to be Chinese, especially since Bell says that “the obstacles are not legal”?

Eight North Korean Defectors in China at Risk of Deportation: Rights Group (Reuters, Apr. 24):  Human Rights Watch says a group of North Korean defectors were detained in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, after what appears to have been a random traffic stop.

Filipino Maid Granted Residency in Pudong (Global Times Apr. 5): The Exit and Entry Administration in Shanghai’s Pudong district has for the first time granted a residence permit for work to a foreign domestic helper, namely a Filipino maid. The employer is a foreign national who is a senior executive at a biomedical technology company in Shanghai. Recently, however, Pudong authorities implemented new policies to allow foreign talents who have obtained permanent residency or work permits to apply for residency permits for foreign domestic helpers such as maids and nannies.

China’s New Foreigner Work Permit System Goes National on April 1: Have You Checked Your Employment Contract? (China Law Blog, Mar. 31): “Pretty much every [employment] contract we have reviewed has greatly favored the Chinese employer at the expense of the foreign executive and many … contain well-known China-specific loopholes that work against the foreign executive or fail to provide the employee with what [was] promised. Sad to say, but with the onslaught of high level foreign employee hirings has come an onslaught of high level foreign employees who have gone to China believing they would get one package and then finding out months later that they got a far lesser one.”

Dark Shadows of Chinese Exclusion Act in Muslim Ban (Asia Times, Mar. 15): The Chinese Exclusion Act has a dubious distinction: it was the first federal law in the United States to prevent members of a specific ethnic group from entering the country. The law banned the immigration of Chinese laborers and prevented Chinese from becoming naturalized citizens. The law came into being in 1882 and was repealed in 1943, a time when China was an ally in World War II. These details have a chilling echo in President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders banning people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US.

Justice Department Reviews H-1B Spouse Work Case as Tech Worker Visas Scrutinized (NBC News, Mar. 10): The Justice Department is weighing its next moves in a federal lawsuit that challenges a 2015 rule extending work authorization to the H-4 spouses of certain H-1B temporary workers. The case, now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. / H-4 spouses are concerned that the Trump administration is looking for ways to stop granting work authorization under this important 2015 rule. For more on this rule, see Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses: USCIS Publishes Updated Form and FAQs.

China Wants to Attract More Foreigners (of a Certain Kind) (New York Times, Feb. 23): China’s immigration policies are contradictory in that they prioritize attracting foreign talent to increase economic modernization, while reflecting a deep-rooted instinct to keep foreigners at arm’s length.

Who Should Be Called an Expat? (BBC, Jan. 20): The terms “expat” and “migrant” carry many connotations about class, education and privilege. / Words matter. Luckily, U.S. immigration law doesn’t use those loaded terms. it has enough trouble with the terms “immigrant” and “alien.”

Former Wife of Fugitive Chinese Official Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Commit Immigration Fraud Related to EB-5 Investor Visa (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement News Release, Jan. 10): The ex-wife of a former Chinese government official has pleaded guilty to charges that she conspired to fraudulently obtain visas to enter the United States through the immigrant investor program. Zhao Shilan (趙世蘭) admitted to submitting to USCIS false documents making it appear that her investment funds were earned legally and a false marriage certificate making it appear that she was married to her ex-husband so that he could immigrate with her.


Why Birth Tourism from China Persists Even as U.S. Officials Crack Down (LA Times, Dec. 30): Even as middle class incomes in China enjoy explosive growth, and 96% of people in a recent Pew Research poll say their lives are better than their parents’, birth tourists cross oceans each year to have their babies in America. And in America’s Chinese enclaves, they find a cottage industry of Chinese midwives, drivers, “maternity hotels,” and doctors who accept cash.

China’s New Import: a Growing Black Market in Maids (Financial Times, Sept. 30):  Mainland Chinese demand for English-speaking nannies has spawned a black market of almost 200,000 Filipino domestic workers, according to the Philippines consulate-general in Hong Kong. Filipino nannies appear to be a status symbol in Mainland China. They earn about RMB 7,000 a month in Beijing, about 40% more than in Hong Kong. But many are trafficked by unscrupulous agents, who arrange for L (tourist) visas that don’t authorize work in China.  The Philippines government is concerned that these domestic workers may be subject to abuse yet fear seeking legal redress because of their undocumented status. Agents often recommend that employers keep the workers’ passports as a form of leverage over them. The Philippines government is asking Beijing to regularize the immigration status of such domestic workers.

Hoping to Work in China? If You’re a Class C Foreigner, It May Be Tough (Didi Kirsten Tatlow for the New York Times, Sept. 21): Another preview of the unified work permit for foreigners.

Unified Work Permit for Foreigners on Way (China Daily, Sept. 9): China plans to combine the existing two tracks to obtain work authorization into a single process. Currently, one track involves applying to the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau for a work permit (就业证), and the other track involves applying to the Foreign Expert Bureau for a foreign expert permit (专家证). The new process will result in issuance of an ID card with a unique ID number for the foreign worker. A pilot program will begin in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, and Ningxia in October.

China Tightens Tourist Visa Rules for S. Koreans amid THAAD Row (Korea Herald, Aug. 12): China tightened its rules on tourist visa issuance for South Koreans, the foreign ministry said, the second revision to its regulations in less than two weeks that comes amid a diplomatic row over Seoul’s decision to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense shield on its soil.

Mimi Zou, Regulating Illegal Work under China’s New Immigration Regime, UN Research Institute for Social Development Working Paper Series Working Paper 2016–7 (30 June 2016): The Exit and Entry Administration Law 2013 (EEAL) in China has been widely considered to be a major step forward in developing a more comprehensive legal regulatory regime for dealing with the rising inflow of foreigners to the country in recent decades. Situated in a policy discourse aimed at combating the so-called “three illegalities” (sanfei) of illegal entry, residence, and work, the EEAL introduces a range of restrictions on the admission of foreign migrants, controls over their employment and residence, as well as enforcement mechanisms that involve employers and members of the general public. This paper examines the ways in which China’s immigration law regime regulates “illegal work” and thereby constructs precarious statuses that shape migrants’ vulnerability to precariousness in their employment relations.

US Media Scrutinize Wave of Chinese Migrants Illegally Crossing From Mexico (VOA, June 28): A “surge” in Chinese migrants seeking a better life in the United States by illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border is capturing the attention of U.S. media.

Sichuan Cracks Down on Illegal Foreign Workers (Sina, June 14): Sichuan Province has launched a 4-month crackdown on foreigners who illegally immigrate, reside or seek employment. The public should report such issues to police, while employers who illegally hire foreigners may be fined.

Xinjiang Residents Must Give DNA, Voice-Print For Passports (Radio Free Asia, June 8): Authorities in northwestern China’s troubled Xinjiang region are now requiring residents of Yili Prefecture to provide DNA samples and other biometric data before they can be issued with travel documents, sparking concerns over the possible ethnic profiling of the country’s mostly Muslim Uyghur group.

China’s Twilight Years (The Atlantic, June 2016): China today boasts roughly five workers for every retiree. By 2040, this highly desirable ratio will have collapsed to about 1.6 to 1. A demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicts that in another decade or two, the social and fiscal pressures created by aging in China will force what many Chinese find inconceivable for the world’s most populous nation: a mounting need to attract immigrants.

China Using Tourism as Economy, Foreign Policy Tool (Voice of America, May 24): China feels it can use outbound tourism as a soft power to influence foreign policy.

Students at Fake University Say They Were Collateral Damage in Sting Operation (N.Y. Times, May 6): The Department of Homeland Security says it set up the University of Northern New Jersey as a sting operation to catch some 22 corrupt brokers who arranged for about 1000 fake students to get real U.S. student visas. But some of the “students,” who now face deportation, claim they thought the school was real and tried to attend classes.

Canada Cites Espionage Risk from Two Huawei Employees, Saying It Plans to Reject Their Immigration Applications (S. China Morning Post, May 4): These Canadian immigration denials emerge amid a swirl of unsubstantiated international spying concerns about the firm.

China is Attracting International Students, But What Are the Policies in Place to Help Them Stick Around?  (Global Times, Apr. 21): International students have few legal internship opportunities and are shut out of the job market by the rule generally requiring 2 years’ postgraduate experience to get a work visa.

Why China Isn’t Hosting Syrian Refugees (Foreign Policy, Feb. 26): Liang Pan summarizes why–for foreign policy, ideological, domestic population policy, domestic ethnic policy, and other reasons–the Chinese government hasn’t taken in Syrian refugees.

Airline Rules for Traveling While Pregnant  (Travel + Leisure, Feb. 8): It turns out some airlines are surprisingly lenient while others are more strict about letting pregnant women fly.

30,000 North Korean Children Living in Limbo in China (Guardian, Feb. 5): Since the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled across the border to China, many in order to survive famine in their homeland. Many of the women refugees have been vulnerable to abuse and sex trafficking. Up to 30,000 children born to North Korean mothers and Chinese fathers are now effectively stateless. Although the Nationality Law recognizes children born in China to one Chinese parent at PRC citizens, these parents rarely register their children because the mother’s identity would have to be revealed – and she would be deported back to North Korea. As a result, the children have no access to schooling or health care.

Weddings from Hell: the Cambodian Brides Trafficked to China (Guardian, Feb. 1): There’s a pattern of Cambodian women lured to China by promises of work but then sold into forced marriages. Even if they manage to flee China and return to Cambodia, reintegration is difficult.

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