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Visa Troubles (What Else?) (Beijing)

Hey, Internations, I've got a bit of an issue and I was hoping y'all could give me some advice.

I've been working part time at a place and we've been in successful negotiations for a full time job (yay!). Just in time, too, since my visa is up at the end of this month. They're telling me that it's going to take some time for my work visa to be prepared (two months-ish according to them), and that I'll need to extend the visa I'm on now (F) to keep working and avoid any issues. No problem, so how should I do that? "Well," they say, looking stumped, "You could apply to a language school, or ask one of your workmates. One of them is going to Hong Kong this weekend to do it…"

I'm sorry what? Is this normal? Is it unreasonable of me to think that since I'll be working full time for someone that they could give me an invitation letter to obtain an M visa until my work visa is prepared? Especially since they courted ME for the job and not the other way around? And if it IS normal, how exactly do I go around getting a visa/getting an extension? The workmate they referred me to basically said he has no idea how this works and he's going to Hong Kong on a wing and a prayer.

In fairness, I'm guessing at least half of the issue is that the people I talked to seemed to have zero idea about the way one gets any visa other than a work visa, preferring to let the employees handle everything in between themselves. Can anyone give me some advice? It'd be much much appreciated.

(Company is a Chinese multi-national, recently bought-out by Americans, not an English school, so I'm assuming it's not a mickey-mouse situation. Assuming…)

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