The authentication process is a three-step process required as part of the necessary documents to apply for a Z visa. It has varying degrees of complexity depending on where your documents are issued and where you live. Here is a link outlining the three steps: http://www.china- embassy.org/eng/ywzn/lsyw/gzrz/rzcx/
Here is how we suggest approaching the process:
1. Obtain a local police check from your police station and locate your highest level degree.
2. Call or visit your local Secretary of State office to see what type of notary they require and confirm their process. Note that the document needs to be authenticated by the SOS in the state that they are issued, even if you no longer reside there.
3. Get the original police check and a copy of the degree notarized. In some cases the police station or university can notarize the document directly, but if not the SOS office can tell you where to go.
4. Authenticate the documents at the Secretary of State level. This is fastest if you can go in person but if you don’t live close enough to go in person you can typically mail it to them. Check on their website or call them to be sure.
5. Authenticate the documents at the Consulate level. These also need to be done at the consulate that manages the jurisdiction of the state you are in, even if you are no longer in that state or live closer to another consulate. This is also faster if you can do it in person but if not you can use an agent.
What if I have more than one degree? You only need to authenticate the highest-level degree and if you have two at that level, just choose one.
What if I live in one state but my degree was issued somewhere else? You will need to go through two separate authentication processes. First at each state level and then if the states are under the jurisdictions of more than one consulate you will need to go through two separate consulates.
What documents do I need to authenticate at the state level? All states are different – follow the instructions of each state either posted on line or obtained from calling them.
What documents do I need to authenticate at the consular level? You’ll need an authentication application form, the secretary of state’s authentication, and your passport. Don’t’ forget your passport!
How long does the process take? This will vary a lot depending on where you live and if you have more than one process to go through. Typically it will take between two to six weeks.