Preparing for China
I’ve been offered a job – what next?
Many congratulations on your successful interview and being offered a position to teach English in China! There are now a few administrative tasks that need to be completed before you embark on your exciting adventure.
Once you’ve decided to accept a job, the educational establishment will email you a contract. The contract should be a thorough document noting the conditions of your salary, working hours, teaching hours per week, students per class, accommodation provision (if relevant), visa provision, medical insurance (if relevant), flight reimbursement (if relevant), conditions regarding overtime, and terms of the employer release letter.
Review the contract very carefully when you receive it; if you feel that anything is missing or incorrect then you should raise this before signing it. Many contracts impose various fines should you break its clauses, so if something is not clear or you do not agree then under no circumstances should the contract be signed.
Note that your contract is signed between yourself and your employer, not with Opportunity China. The contract should be signed prior to the visa application process starting.
Before signing a contract, it is very important to review your own personal situation and understand you are making a promise to your future students and employer that you are committed to work for them for the entire year.
If you are unsure about the position, do not sign a contract. It is expensive for a school to apply for a Z visa and foreign expert permit. Once a contract has been signed and all required documents submitted, the school will begin the visa application process.
Please read our contract guidance information.
Visas to Teach in China
The three most common types of visas for China include the tourist (L) visa, the business (F) visa, and the working (Z) visa.
To work legally as an English teacher in China you need to have a ‘Z’ work visa. Our partner schools are licensed to provide ‘Z’ work visas for teachers who meet the requirements of the province, and will handle the paperwork for you.
Opportunity China strongly recommend that you do not leave your home country without having the correct visa in place, except in exceptional circumstances.
Documents required for the Work Visa
You’ll then need to promptly prepare high quality copies of the following documents, which are required by most schools in order to apply for your Z visa and foreign expert certificate:
- BA degree certificate
- TEFL Certificate
- Passport scan
- Passport photos
- Reference letter
- No Criminal Record Check Certificate
- Medical Check (not always required – dependent on province/ school)
- CV/ Resume (occasionally it will be requested for this to be translated to Chinese)
- No Criminal Record Certificate
If you’re in the UK, please see the link below for information on the ‘no criminal record certificate’ required for the work (Z) visa;
If you opt for the DBS check, a ‘Basic Disclosure’ can be applied for by an individual and costs £25: Basic Disclosure
For American candidates an FBI criminal record check is required: Identity history summary Check
Medical Check Up
In order to obtain a z visa many schools may require you to complete the following ‘physical examination record form’ whilst still in your home country: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fd/W020110807201675371788.pdf.
Your school will notify you of whether they require this to be done as part of the visa application process.
Please note that often you will be required to gain a further medical check-up once you arrive in China, even if you have also had to complete this in your home country.
We recommend going to see your Doctor or Travel Nurse to ask him/her to compete the form as fully as possible. They should be able to complete the majority of the form, but some parts may not be feasible. In our experience, the form can be completed as follows and will be accepted by the Chinese government:
- The first page should be relatively easy for your doctor to complete
- On the second page, in the top box, a comment such as ‘normal’ is sufficient
- In the chest x-ray and ECG boxes please just comment ‘Not applicable’
- The final box should include a comment stating that you are fit
- Please ask your doctor to then sign the form with a stamp from your doctors surgery
Refer to our ‘example physical examination record form’ to see an example of a completed form that would usually be accepted by the local Chinese government.
To date the above has been successful with our candidates. However, please note that should this not be accepted and the full medical examination required, it is likely that you will need a full medical check from a private surgery, which can cost anywhere between £200- £400. Some schools will cover the costs of this examination, other schools will not.
Note that this information regarding the medical check is purely a guide, and only for reference; policies of the Chinese Embassy regularly change.
Chinese Visas – Application Process Overview
The work visa requirements vary slightly from province to province, and can regularly change, however generally speaking the China visa application process works as follows:
Stage 1 – you gather all of the required documents for the school to make an initial application to the local government
Stage 2 – the school will then submit the necessary paperwork to the local government and if the application is successful a work permit and letter of invitation will be issued in both hard and soft copy format usually within 1-4 weeks
Stage 3 – once you have been issued with a work permit and letter of invitation you can submit a visa application at your local Chinese Embassy in your home country. You should then take this invitation letter, along with your passport (valid for at least 6 months) and visa application form to your nearest Chinese embassy. In some countries, the application can be sent to the Embassy via recorded delivery. As a guide, it usually takes 5 to 10 days to submit the relevant documents with your passport, and receive the visa.
For UK applicants, visa applications are made through the Visa Service Centre: www.visaforchina.org.
Please read through the information provided on the website and ensure you have all of the documents that you need when going to a visa appointment.
You can apply by post or by making an appointment at the visa centre in London, Manchester of Edinburgh. The Visa centre suggest that when applying by post it should take 10 days to return your passport and visa, if you go for an appointment it should take 4 days when you can go back to the centre to pick up your passport and visa. The Z-visa is valid for entry to China for 90 days after it is issued.
*Important* Please review your country’s Chinese Embassy website:
Stage 4 – once you arrive in China you must apply for a Residence Permit from the immigration department at the local public security authority in the place intended to stay within 30 days of entry to China. Your school will help you to organise this.
Booking your Flight
We strongly advise that you do not purchase a plane ticket until your visa arrives at your home as any delays may mean you need to rebook your ticket, which could result in very high administration fees.
For a flexible ticket we recommend that you book your flight via a travel agent, who can clearly communicate the conditions of a particular ticket to you.
For UK applicants, please see advice on gaining travel insurance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
There are many insurance policies/companies to choose from and Opportunity China has partnered with a trusted broker that we have had good experiences with to date. To find out more please visit the travel insurance section of our website.
You should print out at least two copies of your policy, and keep one copy in your hand luggage. Ensure that you have noted the emergency contact number stated on the policy. On Arrival
Once you’re in China your school will assist you in converting your temporary visa into a Residence Permit. This process may take between 2 to 4 weeks during which you may be required to hand over your passport, therefore we suggest you make a few high quality copies of it before it’s out of your possession.
The government also requires you to undertake a full health check. If you have already done one back in your home country, in many cases you will be made to do another one once in China.
On Arrival – Registering With the Police
Before and after your school applies for your Residence Permit you will need to register with your local police station in China.
Again, you’ll need your passport for this, and a copy of your apartment lease if applicable. They will provide you with a Registration Form of Temporary Residence. Failure to get this document may result in fines, so it is important that the police registration is done.
Healthcare and Vaccines
Healthcare is not provided free of charge in China and medical bills can be substantial. Medical evacuation from China is very expensive. We strongly recommend that you ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance (cross link to Insurance web page) covering healthcare for the duration of your stay. The UK Government does not pay travellers’ healthcare costs overseas.
A generally good standard of medical care can be accessed in China’s major cities, though some hospitals can be very crowded. Outside major cities, the standard of healthcare is more variable.
Your Doctor or Travel Clinic can provide up-to-date advice on immunisations and other preventative measures relevant to the part of China to which you are travelling. You should ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. We strongly recommend that you visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network Centre or review the website of your National Health Service for guidance on vaccination requirements and current information on health issues in China. The following websites can also provide useful information:
- The UK Health Protection Agency supplies accurate and detailed information on infectious disease, particularly malaria.
- An NHS Scotland website.
- World Health Organization information on health issues in China.
This information has been taken from the Foreign and Common Wealth Office website