"I nominate English World, aka My English World, aka English World Business Liability Co. Ltd., Tongliao, Inner Mongolia, China. In 2005-2006, English World was investigated on 3 different occasions. First by the Tongliao Public Security Bureau due to the fact that teachers were teaching under "F" visas, which is illegal. "F" visas are reserved for those invited to China to conduct business, not to teach. Lian was informed of the investigation beforehand by a friend who works with the PSB and all of the foreign teachers had to be interviewed by the PSB. We were told by Lian to tell the PSB that we did not teach, but rather that we participated in the writing of textbooks and did promotional work. We went through with the interviews, but it was very hard on alot of us because we knew what could happen if we were caught lying. But, it was either that or lose our jobs. The second time we were investigated, Lian left the office and a woman and 2 men from the Department of Education came to investigate...they went through Lian's filing cabinet and rifled through the desks.
They had alot to say about a sign that Lian had on the door to the office that claimed we were a school (it was written in Chinese) and because she didn't have the permit to be able to operate a school, or have foreign teachers, they said that she was breaking the law. These Department of Education people returned again and insisted that we all have medical examinations done, and to make matters worse representatives from the Department of Education were present in the room when we had our examinations, and saw us half-naked and it was quite humiliating to us foreign teachers. So, there were at least 3 occasions while I was there in which there were investigations. Until recently, illegal recruiters could fly "under the radar" so to speak, but now there have been alot of changes to the Chinese visa process which will make things alot harder for people like Lian.
I believe there will be no "F" visas issued between March 2008 and October 2008. Also there is no such thing as a visa extension anymore (Lian used to get a doctor to write a note stating that the foreign teacher was too sick to go to Hong Kong to get a new visa so that they could go there with an expired visa to renew it) Usually it worked, but I believe the authorities began to catch on...ask Nate, an American foreign teacher who worked for her. Lian told him that although his visa was expired she "had it covered"...he went to Hong Kong, was detained and fined for having an expired visa...at his expense of course. I went to Hong Kong with an expired visa and was questioned, but they let me through just because I was lucky.
Before I left for Hong Kong, Lian told me that she made a call and that it would all be fine. When I told the immigration officer upon entering Hong Kong, he laughed in my face and said that there was no such thing as "making a call" in such matters...an expired visa is an expired visa. Luckily, he let me through, but I felt like such a fool. I also read something about there being no visa switches anymore, starting in March 2008...before, you could come to China on a tourist visa and change it to a Z visa (which is what you need to have to teach) but now whatever visa you come in with is what you have to stay with; you can't switch it anymore apparently, and if it's expired, you need to get a new one by leaving China for 5 days (I think it used to be 24hrs, if that.), provide travel receipts and prove that you are affiliated with a government approved agency and so on. (For an "F" visa that is, but good luck getting that in Hong Kong without good solid proof, especially if you're not American or Canadian.)
Anyway,with regard to your question why Lian can have dealings with the school board and so on, while not being legal...it's not that hard to justify. Not many Chinese know about permits to employ foreigners (from the S.A.F.E.A.) or visas or anything like that. They're pretty much going on her word. Then there is the whole aspect of how "money talks" in Chinese society. Things often move a little quicker and a little more quietly when it's greased with a few 100 RMB bills.
Also, the schools are not going to care if the foreigners don't have the proper documentation, only Lian and the foreigner will get into trouble...maybe just the foreigner. Chinese don't know much about policies for foreigners, especially where foreigners living in Tongliao is still a relatively new thing for that city. They don't have alot of experience dealing with such matters. You can actually check with the State Administration of Foreign Employee Affairs (SAFEA...they have a telephone number on their website) and they will tell you if the place you are woking for is permitted to employ foreigners. The last time I checked, Inner Mongolia University for the Nationalities was the only school in all of Tongliao with a permit, and also able to provide "Z" visas. As for the name of the company it has been changed, because she had to have the word, "business" in it in order to get away with having "F" visas which are only allowed for business oriented companies, not for teaching. By the way, after leaving China I did some research...foreign employees living in China for less than a period of 2 years are exempt from paying taxes so, if she's taking taxes off of your pay...it's going into her pocket.
I had Chinese ex-employees of hers tell me that they were apalled at how she used to keep the taxes for herself and the foreigners were not even supposed to pay taxes. Alot of things go on "in Chinese" that the foreigners do not understand...things that would make you sick. Did you know that all of her teachers are different prices to the schools? If a school isn't willing to pay whatever for a white foreigner, then she will say, "well, I can give you a Filipino or a Black for that money, but not a white person". Kinda makes you feel a little bit like a herd of cattle doesn't it? Oh well...the way I look at it, everything always comes out in the wash eventually. No bad deed goes unpunished and people always pay for their dishonesty.
As long as there are people willing to teach for Lian, then she will make money from them. I just couldn't stay around anymore, because I was tired of being treated as less than a deserving human being. There is no need to try to pick falsehoods out of what I say at all...I have no reason to make things up about English World. I know what I'm talking about, because I have been in China for a long time. This is a horrible company to work for...stay far away!"
_________________________________________________________Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain