Two female Irish teachers have received detention in a Beijing cell for 10 days, only to be released on Tuesday 15 May, for working two jobs illegally.
The two are from counties Kildare and Offaly, and at the time of the arrest, were working for a registered English language school in Beijing, to which their legal working visas are linked. Both had taken extra jobs on the side at an unlicense private school. Although both teachers hold legal working visas, they claim not to have been aware that it is illegal in China to take on additional work.
On 5 May, the two women were detained along with nine others, whom have yet to be identified, during a police raid of a private school. Although both women say they were treated well during their detainment, they were refused phone calls home, reported the Irish Times.
Police raids in language schools are a common occurrence and foreign teachers can legally be detained during these raids. Schools can be fined upwards of ￥10,000 (£1,160) per illegal foreign worker. Working illegally is the number one reason why foreigners get deported in China.
In March 2018, the State Immigration Administration merged the Exit and Entry Administration department and the China Immigration Inspection department together into one single authority. It is responsible for overseeing visa-related issues for foreigners living and working in China.
According to the South China Morning Post, China has become a lot more strict of late with regards to foreign workers since it formed the State Immigration Administration in March. The new body is managed by the Ministry of Public Security.
Nanjing houses roughly 20,000 foreigners at present, and unless on a student visa, they will most likely be on working or spouse visas. Whether or not the detention of teachers in Beijing was a show of power or that such are becoming commonplace now, it is clear foreign workers dabbling in more than one job still remain at risk.
In line with China, other countries including Singapore and the USA have similar visa laws, whereby foreigners are prohibited from working a second job outside from the one that is stated on their visa. Comparatively, the UK’s current visa law states that tier 2 employees may work a second job, under certain circumstances.
China’s visa law states that it is illegal to work in China beyond the scope of the work specified on the employment licence. The country has increased enforcement of this law and any foreigner who engages in “unauthorised” employment can be imposed a fine of between ￥5,000 to ￥20,000, or as we have seen in Beijing, be subject to detention.