To work legally as an English teacher in China you need to have a ‘Z’ work visa. All of our partner schools are licensed to provide ‘Z’ work visas for their teachers and will handle the application paperwork for you, enabling you to then apply for your visa in your home country.
Chinese Work Visas – The Application Process
The requirements do vary slightly from province to province, however generally speaking the China visa application process works as follows:
Step 1: Once you have been offered and have accepted a job teaching English with a school in China you will be asked to provide their HR Department with a colour scanned copy of your passport, bachelor’s certificate, 120 hour TEFL/ TESOL certificate, résumé/CV, criminal record check, recent photo, and a reference letter from a previous employer. In most Provinces, a medical check will also be required.
In line with regulations implemented in 2017, the bachelor’s certificate and criminal record check (and sometimes TEFL/ TESOL certificate) will have to be notarized/ authenticated before they are sent to a school. Remember that this process can take up to 3 weeks to complete.
Step 2: Once complete, email high quality scanned copies to your employer school. Original documents will be taken with you to China.
Ensure that you inform your future employer of which city and country you will be submitting your work visa application – for example, the Visa for China Centre in London, UK.
Step 3: Over the following weeks the school will apply for your work permit. Typically this process can take between 21-28 working days, depending on the province.
Once this has been completed, the provincial visa office will issue an official invitation letter and/or work permit document, which your school will send to you electronically or as a hard copy to your home address via a courier such as DHL.
Step 4: Review your country’s Chinese Visa for China Service Centre website to download the visa application form and up-to-date country-specific information.
See here for an example of a Visa For China Application Form, completed for a Z Working Visa.
Step 5: Take the official paperwork send to you by your employer school, along with your passport (valid for at least 6 months), completed visa application form, photocopies of all previous Chinese Visas and passport photo to your nearest Visa for China centre or Chinese Embassy/Consulate. In some countries the application can be made by mail and sent via recorded delivery. If you are staying in China for over 6 months, the Visa Centre will require you to visit your nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate to have your fingerprints taken after you have submitted your application.
The z visa is usually processed within 3 – 7 days depending on the service you opted for. Postal services can take up to 10 working days to process and return.
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 6 weeks during which you will not have 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. Even if you have already done one back in your home country, in some cases you will be made to do it again once in China.
Registering With the Police
Before and after your school applies for the Residence Permit and Official Work Permit for China, you will first need to immediately register with your local police station in China.
Again, you’ll need your passport for this, and a copy of your apartment lease if necessary. 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.