Love is never planned nor forecasted, it just happens. There is no limitation to location or race. It transcends all boundaries and refuses to be bound by rules, laws and personal opinions. Why then does it seem there is a strain placed on love in mainland China? Why is there set rules and limitations to falling in love between foreigners and local Chinese?
Why are couples torn between being identified as a family or being seen just as a foreigner married to a Chinese local? Is this the way it is all over the world? Is this how it will be in China in the far future? Is this some strategic move of the authorities to lessen interracial marriages in the mainland? The price you pay for falling in love with a local Chinese.
On the14th January 2019 between 19:30 – 21:00 hours, Kyle Hadfield, a Canadian foreigner of 13 years in China, hosted a very intimate talk with both Chinese and other foreigners alike concerning the price he has to pay for falling in love with his local Chinese wife of three and half years from the Hunan province. This talk zoomed in on the experiences he has had while being married in China, the prejudice he has witnessed when trying to share those experiences in hope for change and key differences between China and other foreign countries, specifically Canada, his birth country.
The main highlight, however, of this talk echoed the Chinese Spousal visa and the limitations it currently has for foreigners wanted to remain in the country while making their contributions and balancing family life.
According to Visa in China, a reputable visa processing agency of 10 years, the Q visa is what is issued to foreigners married to a Chinese spouse. The Q visa is then further subdivided into 2 main visa categories, the Q1 visa and the Q2 visa. The Q1 visa is issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence with an intended duration of stay in China that exceeds 180 days. The Q2 visa, on the other hand, is issued to those who intend to visit their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with a permanent residence with an intended duration of stay in China of no more than 180 days.
“Family members” refers to spouses, parents, sons, daughters, spouses of sons or daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters and parents-in-law. Kyle currently holds a Q2 visa, which forces him to leave the country and his family every 90 days. In addition to the recurring cost of traveling fees that adds up overtime, and the humiliation of still being seen as ‘just another exit and entry foreigner’ even while now having family ties in the county, on the spousal visa, one is not permitted to work.
Sure, you can do a couple freelance jobs here or there, you can even create a company and allow your Chinese spouse to be the face of the business; which is often times the case, but this is not condoned by the Chinese authorities and may result in serious penalties for visa misuse. How then can a man feed his family if he is not permitted to work? How then can he remain in the country to care for his own if he is asked kindly to leave every 90 days by an authoritative piece of paper within his passport? How can he prove his contributions?
Some may say “Why not just get off the spousal visa and get a work visa?” some suggested this at the conference he hosted. Many times, these suggestions are often given by ones disconnected from the main issue at hand, who themselves are not married to a Chinese spouse and therefore seem not to understand that the spousal visa issue in China is never clear cut and coded black and white.
It cannot be ignored that the spousal visa needs work. To aid in this process, Kyle continues to address the issue as he also represents numerous foreigners in the same boat. What needs to change? Firstly, foreigners married to a local Chinese need to be recognized as such, realistically a spouse should not be given a set time period to spend with his or her family each year. Secondly, there should be a clear path set, enabling a foreigner married to a Chinese national to work while on such a visa, why on earth can’t a foreigner work while being a spouse, doesn’t it make sense that the two go hand in hand?
No one is suggesting that China mimics, in exact proportion, other countries and their methods of dealing with immigration, for how then can China remain authentically the China we all love? What is asked, however, is that the visa policies currently in action be reassessed and further provisions made for the uniqueness of each visa case.
In conclusion, there needs to be consistency throughout the provinces with a hint of flexibility as each visa case will appear to be different, especially when it involves interracial marriages in the mainland. Kyle continues to rally for this cause in hope that the voice of each foreign spouse is finally heard but until then he continues to pay the price of falling in love with a local Chinese, but the question is, should love even have such a price?