Renewing my Chinese visa

This morning I went to the visa bureau in Pudong to extend my Z-visa / residence permit. In the past years I never had to go here in person to get an extension, but because of tighter visa rules I now had to appear myself. Not a big deal I thought, because I had heard that this should take maximum one hour.

Wrong. Because of the new visa rules many foreigners were trying their luck to get tourist and F-visa extensions, and there were huge queues. Several people were arguing loudly with the staff, but they could not bend the rules for them, and most of the foreigners had to leave China. To make things worse the staff took a 2-hour (!) lunch break despite a notice saying that the service would not be interrupted during lunch. Technically right, because out of the 14 counters 2 were still manned during the break.

The result was that I had to wait for 3 hours before it was my turn. Luckily I brought my fully charged laptop, so I could do a bit of work (even though the place had no wireless internet). I even found a place where they sold coffee. Not a very good quality, and overpriced at RMB 18 per cup, but better than nothing.

One security guard was overseeing the visa hall, but did not interfere in any of the arguments. Instead he decided to take a nap in the corner. The interesting thing was that when he woke up he decided to wake up the guy sitting behind me who had also decided to take a nap. The guy was spread out over two chairs, which was probably the main reason for the guard to wake him up. The guy got quite angry because of this, but the security guard just smiled (he did not understand what the guy told him, which was probably better – also for the guy).

When it finally was my turn the procedure went quite fast. I had already filled out the forms and had all required documents with me. They asked me 2 questions, took a digital picture and within 2 minutes I was outside again. I will get my passport back in 5 working days and luckily don’t have to go there myself, a courier can pick it up for me.

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