Understanding the Z Visa Process for Teachers in China

by Dec 19, 2016130 comments

Which Visa do you Need to Teach Legally in China?

To work legally in China, regardless of your chosen profession, you need a Z Visa.  While there are plenty of schools and recruiters out there reassuring job seekers that it’s ok to teach on a business (M) or tourist (L) visa, doing so is illegal and extremely risky.

Even if you ignore the threat of fines and detention, there is no shortage of horror stories out there about teachers getting caught and deported.  Our advice is to be smart, do your homework, and insist on a Z visa from your employer.

Only registered schools are authorized to provide Z visas to their teachers, so if you are speaking with a school that either says they can’t or is giving you excuses, be very wary.  After all, if they can’t even guarantee your legal employment, how can they be trusted to live up to the rest of the contract?

Overview of a Chinese Z Visa

The Z visa is the stepping stone to legally working in China. It’s valid for 30 days upon entry to China. Once you have your Z Visa, you will need to register at the local police station, obtain a Work Certificate and finally, be granted a Residence Permit. Once you have your Residence Permit in your hand, you can officially stay and work in China.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right?! 

To obtain this work visa from China, you will first need to be offered a job. This will entitle you to a Work Permit, which you need to apply for the Z visa. The Work Permit itself should be arranged by your employer/school in China, who will be licensed to employ foreigners. Like we mentioned above, if your employer isn’t offering a Z visa, they may not be an authorized registered school. It’s worth looking elsewhere to teach if this is the case. 

What Are the Requirements for a Z Visa?

To be eligible for a Z visa, you will need to meet the requirements to teach English which are set out by your school in China. While these requirements may differ from school to school, they tend to revolve around three main components:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree in any subject 
  • Two Years Work Experience or TEFL certificate (ideally 120 hours)
  • Native English Speaker

Applicants are also subject to the same retirement ages as Chinese workers: 60 for men and 55 for women.  While these ages are still being revised, it will be more difficult to get a visa if you are older than that. We go into more detail on the requirements teachers need to teach in China here

China Work Visa Process Summary

Despite what you may have heard, the visa process for those looking to teach in China is usually pretty straight forward. If we break it down, there are six steps you need to take. Two before you leave for China, the rest within 30 days of arriving there. While this may seem like a lot, rest assured that your school should be doing all the heavy lifting on your behalf. They will tell you what you need to do and assist you with it, guiding you through the process.

Where to Begin

Before you can depart for your new life in China, there are two important boxes to tick. Number one, obtain a Work Permit. Number two, get the Z visa. This then allows you to enter China.

Step One – Work Permit

The first step of the visa process is getting your Work Permit. For this to happen, you will need to have been offered a job. Your employer will ask you to send them a pretty large number of documents so that they can arrange the Work Permit on your behalf.

This is the longest list of documents that you will need to submit throughout the process, so once this step is completed, the rest of the steps are somewhat easier!

These may vary between schools, but typically expect to send the following:

  • Scanned Copy of your Passport – a full two-page scan of the information and signature pages. Your passport must have at least one year of validity left
  • Resume/CV – this should clearly state your education and working background
  • Scanned Document Copies of the following:
    1. Bachelor’s degree certificate
    2. Bachelor’s degree transcripts
    3. TEFL certificate
  • Photos – these must meet certain criteria regarding size and content, and have been taken in the last 6 months.
  • Medical Forms
  • Physical Examination form
  • Reference letter (if applicable)
  • Social Security Number (if from the US)
  • Background Check – this non-criminal background check (CBC) must be valid within 6 months of applying for your Work Permit. How to obtain one and get it authenticated will vary between countries:
    1. US Citizens – FBI
    2. UK Citizens – ACRO, DBS, Disclosure Scotland
    3. Canada – RCMP
    4. Australia – AFP

Document Authentication

There are currently two options for having your diploma authenticated:

Paper Authentication in your home county

A three- to four-step process that varies according to country but will normally include the following: notarized copy of the original diploma, authentication at the state level, authentication at a Chinese Embassy/Consulate, translation into Chinese.

Online Authentication in China

Your Diploma can also be authenticated via on online, one-step process with the Chinese Ministry of Education in Beijing. Applicants only need to submit a colour scan of their highest diploma. An authentication document will be issued within 10-15 working days and can be sent directly to your future employer in China.

If you need help navigating the authentication application process we recommend ShortcutZ-China.

Once these documents have been sent over to your employer, they will organize to get your Work Permit processed. Be patient here, as generally it can anywhere up to 30 business days for the permit to be processed. Once it has been approved, you will be sent your Work Permit. You will then need this permit to apply for your Z visa.

Step Two – Z Visa application

One down, five to go! Up next is the Z visa. This requires much less documentation. First, complete the Chinese Working Visa Application Form online, then print it out, gather up the following documents and head to the Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country:

  • Completed visa application form 
  • Work Permit 
  • Passport
  • Passport photo

The Z visa should take around 3 – 7 days to process, but it can take longer. If you’ve got this far, you shouldn’t have the visa rejected. You’ll be notified once it has been processed so you can go collect it. 

Alternatively, if you don’t live near a Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country, then it is also quite common (and safe) to use an agency. For a fee, agencies apply for visas on your behalf and handle everything from submitting the paperwork to picking up the final result and mailing it back to you. I have used VisaHQ in the past with no issues but a simple Google search will yield plenty of options if you’d like to use an agency.

Another option for those already in Asia is applying for your Visa in Hong Kong.  Reports vary on this option and it doesn’t seem to always work for applicants, but still, if you are already in China or Hong Kong it’s worth a shot to prevent either having to return to your country or pay for an agency. Make sure to ask your school if this is an option before deciding on it!

Z Visa Fees

The fee for the Z visa is the same as for other types of Chinese visas. Some schools may help with costs, but typically expect to pay the following for a single-entry Z visa:

US Citizens

Canadian Citizens

UK Citizens

Australian Citizens

USD 140

CAD 142

GBP 151

AUD 109.5

However you go about this step, once you have your Z visa in your passport you are ready to head off to China and start your ESL adventure!

In China

Congratulations! You’ve made it to China. You now have 30 days to turn your Z Visa into a residency permit (the Visa only gets you into China, the residency permit ensures you can stay). As your Z visa is single-entry, you will not be able to leave China until you get your residency permit, but after that, you are free to exit and enter as often as you like. 

Only four more steps to go before you are officially a Chinese resident! Plus, your school should continue to assist you through these next stages, so no need to worry. 

Step Three – Registration

The first thing you must do upon landing in China, apart from grabbing some delicious noodles, is register at the local police station where you’ll be staying. This needs to be done within 24 hours of your arrival, so our advice is to get it done ASAP. It’s a pretty straightforward step – just take yourself and the following documents down to your local police station:

  • Passport
  • Housing contract
  • A copy of your Landlord’s ID and their contact number

Step Four – Medical Check

It is highly likely that you will be required to take part in an in-country medical check within 30 days of your arrival in China. It should be organized by your employer and they should accompany you to the hospital. It’s a pretty simple procedure and is nothing to worry about. You will need to bring the following documents with you to the medical check:

  • Passport
  • Photocopies of passport material pages (picture and information page, visa page, and entry stamp page)
  • 5 passport-style photos (your employer may organize for these to be taken)
  • Medical check fee, approx 400RMB – in some cases your employer will pay

The follow-up Health Certificate can take a couple of working days to process and all being well, your employer should register this with the authorities. 

Step Five – Work Certificate

You’re almost there! Next up is the Work Certificate, which you will need to apply for your Residence Permit. Your employer should assist you with this. Expect to submit the following documents:

  • Passport
  • One photo
  • Medical Check (if applicable)
  • Police Registration form (from your arrival in China)

Generally, the Work Certificate will take around 5 days to process but may take longer. 

Step Six – Residency Permit

The end is now in sight as you finally complete the last step of the visa journey. Again, your employer should assist you with this.

To apply for your Residence Permit, you must appear in person at your local Public Security Bureau (PBS). Remember, you need to have applied for this Residency Permit within 30 days of your arrival in China. This is important. 

Bring yourself and the following to the PBS:

  • Passport (this will be kept by the PBS for the processing period)
  • Work Certificate
  • Police Registration form
  • Medical check 
  • Resident Permit application forms
  • One photo

Expect the processing time of the Residence Permit to be approx 10 – 15 days, depending on the city you’re applying in. You don’t need the Residence Permit in your hand before your 30 days is up, but you need to have applied for it. 

The End

As soon as you have that Residence Permit in your hands, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Go and get yourself a glass of Sake and soak up the feeling of officially being a resident of China. This permit allows you to legally teach in China, move around the country and travel in and out of the country as you like. China is now your oyster. Enjoy!

130 Comments

  1. Hello, if someone resides in china with an x1 visa (student)
    1. Can he apply for or change to z visa while still schooling?
    2. If the person already has an x visa, can the person secure legitimate working documents to work and school at the same time?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Evnie – to be honest, Im not sure about either of these but 2 things stand out: (1) You need to have 2yr of work experience to qualify for a Z visa – Im unsure of what school you’ll be attending in China but it’s worth mentioning in case you’re only completing your bachelors. (2) There is a clear process for transferring Z visas between employers which makes me think it may be possible to move from an X to a Z if you qualify. My advice is to contact employers or visa agencies to check on this as they should have a better understanding – good luck!

      Reply
      • How do I prove that I have 2 year experience ?

        Reply
        • Most people are asked for references that correspond with their resume or CV, though it’s random whether or not those references are ever contacted.

          Reply
        • Hi, I’m Jamaican we are a native English speaking country. I’m currently teaching in Japan, do you think I would be able to successfully land a job in China

          Reply
          • Yes, I believe you could find a job.

  2. i already have a business visa M for 6 month and need to apply for z visa so i need to go my own country and need to apply for z visa or i can stay in china and can apply for it.

    Reply
    • Hi Harry – the answer is that it really depends. We’ve read accounts of both people needing to go home & others where they can change the visa in China or Hong Kong. Like so many other things in China, it will depend on your nationality, the province in which you are applying, and the amount of knowledge that your HR person has. If you are doing this on your own you will likely need to return home, but if you have your new job helping you there may be an easier way.

      Reply
    • I am master in English…i am from pakistan…can i teach in china if i get z visa..

      Reply
      • If you can find a company that can get you a Z visa then yes, you should be able to teach.

        Reply
        • Hi there! I have a bachelor’s degree from a Russian university, would it need to be translated into English or Chinese?

          Reply
          • It will depend on what the school asks for, but usually English will suffice.

  3. This all really great and very useful!! Thank you! But I do have a question, what is the process for getting a teaching job in China AFTER you complete your contract at the first job, but will not be renewing and are will be changing cities?

    Reply
    • Hi Shannon – there is a general process in place to transfer your work permit from one employer to another and both the old and new job will need to work together to make it happen. The new city may require additional docs (like a background check from your 1st city) but as long as you start the process before your permit (and contract) expires it should be possible. Note: you may have to be persistent with the old and new job as they dont always know the process (or don’t want to help).

      Reply
  4. Can a Cameroonian obtain a teaching visa in China

    Reply
    • It’s going to be very difficult – do you have a 4-year degree?

      Reply
  5. I have a question. Is it more difficult for a US military veteran to get a work visa? My husband and I are moving to China to teach English but one recruiter mentioned that it was more difficult to attain a visa for someone who is less than 5 years out of the military (my husband got out 4 years ago). Do you know anything about this? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Savannah – Im sorry but Ive never heard of it being more difficult for veterans and couldn’t find any discussion of it on other forums – sorry! Did they say why that makes it harder?

      Reply
      • Hi I have a question I am from Pakistan living in Malaysia and working as English teacher , I am holding master degree . I have heard that only native speakers can get a job and visa in schools as English teacher , my husband also holding masters degree and he is from Pakistan too but worked for 12 years and he was holding z visa and foreign expert but In 2012 we moved to Malaysia , but now we want to come back . Any help and proper info if I can get . Thanks

        Reply
        • Hi Laila – in order to teach legally in China you will need to be a native speaker. Some schools may promise you a Z visa but Id be very wary of those as they often aren’t legal.

          Reply
          • You need to be a native speaker or have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree from a native speaking country. Mr Quincy, please kindly give the correct information.

          • Thanks for clarifying, Kazi – you’re right in that many cities will accept a native English degree but there are plenty that only care where your passport is from.

    • Hi I’m a non native speaker and I’d like to know if it’s possible to get a work visa that allows me to work as a teacher. Because I’ve heard that it’s possible if one’s had education in a native country. Is this true?

      Reply
  6. Am from Cameroon and have a 3-year degree in Sociology and Anthropology, Diploma in Aviation Security Management from Edith Cowan University of Australia and also TESOL Certificate. Is it possible for me to get a teaching job in China?

    Reply
    • Hi Gervais – it might be possible – biggest sticking point is your 3 year degree and passport. I suggest contacting a few recruiters and getting their take on it – they will have a better idea if they can place you or not.

      Reply
    • Can a Ugandan get a work visa

      Reply
  7. Hi, I’m from Sweden and I have a 5-year degree from Stockholm University in education (English and Swedish as a second language as my main subjects) and a TEFL certificate. Can I obtain a z-visa?

    Reply
    • Hi Esmat – it will be very difficult as you are not a native speaker but there are schools out there that will hire you. Please note that it is not without risk as almost every province requires teachers to be native speakers, but schools often use their influence to get visas for non-natives.

      Reply
    • I have already got my Z visa, So do I need to take a drug test to start teaching and get my residence permit?

      Reply
  8. Can you please tell me whether there is a chance for a non native to get a z visa? I’m from morocco, and I have a master’s degree in linguistics and Eng lang teaching. I’v been thinking about applying to teach there but this whole mess surrounding non natives and visas is scaring me.

    Reply
    • Hi Sara – yes, there is a chance but it will depend on your school. Legitimate schools will insist on native speakers but there are plenty of dodgy options out there that use back channels and “influence” to get Z visas for non-native speakers. These won’t be the best teaching positions but they are out there.

      Reply
  9. Hii there, I do not have a bachelors degree however ibest teacher did offer me a teaching job to work in China with regards to my tefl certificate. If they issue me a work permit and letter of invitation to work for them, would I still be able to enter China and get a z visa even if I do t have a bachelors degree. I do have teaching experience of over 2 years as have completed my matric or high school. Is it still possible…please help!

    Reply
    • Hi Tim – you’ll get the Z visa before you leave for China and if the school can provide one without your bachelor’s degree you shouldn’t have any issue when arriving in China. Make sure they are giving you a Z visa as many schools will ask you to work on a tourist or business visa and claim they can change it once you arrive – this is illegal and extremely risky.

      Reply
  10. What if yoυ send all the paperwork (digitally) from the U.S. for a job you’ve already accepted (with not yet having signed a contract), but then receive a better offer?

    Are yoυ already bound to that job you’ve sent the digital paperwork to, or can yoυ just resend the paperwork to the other job?

    Is it okay as long as yoυ haven’t applied for the Z-visa in your home country?

    Reply
    • Nothing is final until both parties sign the paperwork – it might upset the first employer but you should be able to pursue the better offer without issue.

      Reply
      • Thanks Quincy. Can yoυ verify which paperwork it is that needed to be signed such that yoυ can’t back out?

        Do yoυ mean the invitation letter yoυ receive in the mail from the company/government? Or the contracts yoυ sign after arriving in China?

        Reply
        • Im not an expert on this but Id assume the contract would be the most important – you should not be doing any of the other paperwork (like visa processing, etc) without a signed contract by both parties.

          Reply
  11. Hi. I’m Nigerian residing in Ghana with my work permit, I got a teaching contract for a year and the school is ready to take on the visa process. Do you suggest I apply for the visa in Ghana or apply in my home country? Second where do you suggest I get my documents authenticated and legalized, Ghana or home country? I’m confused pls help!

    Reply
    • I believe you can apply anywhere there is a Chinese embassy or consulate but will likely need to get your docs authenticated in your home country – make sure to confirm with the school as they will know best.

      Reply
  12. I’m a native English speaking US citizen with a 4-year degree and a TEFL certificate. Sounds perfect, right? The only problem is I got my TEFL certificate in 2012 and haven’t used it since because life issues got in the way that prevented me from committing to a job abroad. Would this gap give me any problems? If they ask me why I haven’t used it for so long, what should I tell them?

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda – you should be fine as a TEFL isn’t a hard requirement for China. While Im unsure if a TEFL actually expires, you can always take a short 40hr online class to refresh your skills if needed!

      Reply
  13. What do I do if my work permit has been cancelled but I want to start the work Z process again with a new school in China? I worked at a school for over a year and family things came up. I decided I wanted to go home to be with my family. I gave my school a four month notice and told them in early October that I was leaving in late January. I had a family issue that I needed to tend to and I gave them a letter from my mother and it was notarized. They then asked me for a copy of my mother’s passport. I gave it to them since I wanted to prove that I had nothing to hide. When I signed my termination letter they said they will prosecute me if I work in China before July 2019 or if they find out if I am “lying.” Now that my mom is feeling okay and things are falling into place at home I would like to return to Asia but really to China. My finacé lives in China and we have been away from each other. There is a school that is interested but they said they NEED a reference letter with a government stamp from my previous employer in order to apply for the new work visa. I have the letter of the cancellation of my work permit. But I highly doubt my previous school will give me a reference letter after the way they treated me when I decided to leave. I did everything legally and by the book. My contract said that all a teacher needs to do to terminate a contract is give a three months’ notice and pay back fees. I did both! Can I reapply for a work Z visa without a reference letter from my previous Chinese employer? The HR woman from this new school says it is requirement to get this letter because I am already in the system as having had a work Z visa. Is this true? So if my previous employer never gives me that reference letter that means I can never work in China again.

    Reply
    • Hi Vera, it sounds like the 2nd school might be talking about the release letter which the 1st school is legally required to provide in order to transfer your visa – you can read more here. If they really do need a reference letter and you left the first school on bad terms then Im not sure you have any options, but I would lean on your 2nd school to get involved on your account. They might have more negotiating power than you in this case and it’s in their best interest to make sure the process & paperwork go smoothly. Regardless, I would not be worried about being “prosecuted” as it sounds like you did everything according to your contract.

      Reply
  14. If I have a Z visa for one school, working full time, can I also work part time for another school? This other school wants me to sign agreement with them, is it legal to just sign it, or do I need to complete other procedures, or should I reject this offer?

    Reply
    • Your visa is linked to your employer and it would be illegal to work (part time or full time) for another school. While working on the side isn’t uncommon, I would not count on a signed agreement to protect you as the visa and work permit are the only things that matter.

      Reply
  15. The diploma of the bachelor’s degree has to be notarized now. To prove that it is authentic.

    Reply
  16. I am currently teaching in China under a one year contract and will renew for another year at the beginning of August. I understand I will need a new Z visa for the coming year. My currently passport (valid until 2022) had three blank pages left. Will I need to renew my passport before applying for another Z visa?

    Reply
    • Hi Shelley – it’s not required as you have space, but probably a good idea as you’ll likely need a new residence permit as well, correct? If so, that uses up 2/3 remaining pages leaving you 1 for trips, etc.

      Reply
  17. Hi, I recently got my notification letter sent to me, however it stated i’ll be allowed to work in china for 3 months. Should’t it have been 12 months? or is this normal?

    Reply
    • Hi Patricia – yes, I believe it should be for the duration of your contract. Please confirm with your HR department as there is also a section on there that states the validity of the actual notification letter.

      Reply
  18. Hi guys,

    I’m trying to acquire a few Z visas for native english speaking graduates. Does one send the passport, background check, degree certificate, tefl certificate etc to China directly for the schools to submit the Z visa application – along with their letter of employment?

    Or, does one have to do all of this through their home country, and get all of the above documents notarised AND legalised?

    I’d be grateful for a link to the complete A-Z process for teaching roles.

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Tim – to the best of our knowledge you will need to get all docs notarized + authenticated in your home country and send copies via email to the school. They will then take these copies and apply for your Z visa. They will then issue you the visa invitation letter and you’ll take that letter + the real docs to the consulate or embassy and they will process the visa. Different cities/provinces have been known to change things slightly and our advice is to always coordinate with the school regarding what they need.

      Reply
  19. Thanks Quincy, so kind of you! Appreciate it.

    Do you have an email address to contact you on regarding a proposal?

    Many thanks,

    Tim

    Reply
  20. hello there, i’m curious if you guys might have an information, i’m holding non-native passport, but i do have Bachelor degree in Arts ( English Literature and Language) from native country (USA), in addition, i do have TEFL and TESOL 140 hours course, do you think i qualify for TEACHING visa in China. I know there are people getting Teaching visas in Tier 2 or 3 cities, i’m currently in Shanghai which is Tier 1 city, that’s why i’m asking, if anyone had similar experience please let me know!

    Reply
    • Hi Damian – with those credentials I think you’d be fine. You might have to search harder in a Tier 1 but with your native degree, I wouldn’t worry too much.

      Reply
    • If you are a non native but have a degree from a native country then you are good

      Reply
  21. If the person is not a native speaker, but still he has an invitation letter from school, so can he/she apply for Z visa.?

    Reply
    • If the invitation letter is for a Z visa then you should be ok as getting the invitation letter is the hard part.

      Reply
  22. Hi,
    I’m from a non native country but I have a 4 year degree and TEFL certificate. Can I get a teaching job in China?

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s likely you will be able to find a job but it might be in a tier 2-3 city or they might ask you to work on a non-Z visa. It’s a risk but there are plenty of non-native speakers working in China.

      Reply
  23. Good day ! Do I have to legalize and translate to Chinese my BAchelor degree certificate and non criminal record before sending them to my future employer ? I’ve heard that from my friends who are working in China now 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah – usually docs need to be notarized/authenticated but not translated. This could have changed and your school should be able to tell you exactly what they expect to be able to process your visa.

      Reply
  24. I have an offer to teach in China on an M visa. After three months I’m given a two night holiday out of the country then returned on an M visa for 3 months further. I’m told this is all legit as I’d be working for a UK company while in China. However, I’m worried I might still get busted if I go teaching on an M visa. Could this happen?

    Reply
    • Hi Bob – yes, that is risky and you could get caught. The only legal work visa is a Z visa and you should insist that your employer get one of those or look elsewhere if they cannot.

      Reply
  25. Hi Quincy,

    I have a question about teaching English in China. Currently I have a 10 year visa to be in China that expires in 2026. I am an American citizen with a bachelors degree. I do not have TEFL certificate but English is my native language, I also graduated December 2017 so I do not have 2 years work experience. If I complete the 140 hour TEFL course should I be okay to obtain the visa and apply to teach English in China?

    Reply
    • Hi Larry – yes, if you get the TEFL then you should be able to find a job. Just to clarify, you will need to apply for a job and then they apply for the visa on your behalf.

      Reply
    • Hi,
      I was approached by a legitimate recuirter and got a teaching job in China. I followed the process and was given a Z visa. My application took about 2 months to process because of the Chinese trade fair. Now that I have the visa I realised that my notification for foreign work permit is expired (expired a day after receiving the visa). Can I apply for a new one and will it affect my current visa.
      I’m from an African country and I’m still in my country.
      My human resource contact/ recuirter in China seems not to know what to do

      Reply
      • Not sure I understand – if you already have the visa you should be good to go. The permit comes before the visa and is used when you are actually applying for the visa. Am I misunderstanding?

        Reply
        • Thank you for your response.Yes the permit was issued before the visa and used to apply for the visa. But it also has a validity period of 3months. My application process took a long while and by the time I was given the visa the validity period of the notification of work permit had expired.

          Reply
          • But if you have the visa I dont think it matters, correct? You will use the visa to enter the country and then get a residency permit – the work permit is just to apply for and obtain your Z visa I believe.

          • Hi, my friend is a non-native, he is in China Since September 1st, 2019 with VISA X1 (CSC Master scholarship), but he decide stop his studies and find a job. According migrations office, is this allowed?change from visa x1 to visa z in less than 1month?

          • He should speak to his school about this – only they can tell him whether or not they can change his visa.

  26. Hello,
    I am a non-native teacher and I reside in Vietnam. Is it possible for me to up a Z visa from Vietnam?

    Reply
    • Hi Chi – not entirely sure what you mean by “up a Z visa” but if you can find a company to sponsor your visa you can certainly apply at a Chinese embassy in Vietnam. If you’re wondering if you can even get a job, Id say it’d be difficult but not impossible given your non-native status.

      Reply
  27. We have done all the steps to apply for a Z visa except submit the final paperwork to the embassy/consulate to get the visa. We live in Nebraska, nowhere near a consulate, can we submit the final paperwork through an agency or do we have to travel to a major city to get the Z visa?

    Reply
      • So we absolutely do not need to visit a consulate during this process while we are in the USA? My wife is hearing different information saying after we receive the work permit from the school we are required to go to the consulate in person to do the final step of acquiring the Z Visa.

        Reply
        • Hi Matt, we are not visa processing experts but how I understand it to work is exactly how it’s laid out on websites I referenced: you send all the paperwork provided by your school to the agency and they acquire the visa on your behalf. You can also call them to verify the process in case there have been any recent changes which are not uncommon in China – good luck!

          Reply
  28. Hi,

    I have been offered a job in an English training centre in China for around January. I am due to graduate in November and I am currently completing my TEFL certificate. I have been informed by my university that even though we have the graduation ceremony in November, we won’t receive our diplomas until around 6 months later however we will receive an official transcript of all our obtained grades and final mark. If I wait for the diploma I will lose the job as I need to start in January. Can I use the transcript for authentication and then give them the diploma when I receive it in April/May?
    I feel really confused and unsure what to do. My university are being really unhelpful and said there’s no special circumstances where they could give me my official diploma early. What do I do?

    Reply
    • Hi Bery – you need to confirm what your school actually needs to process your visa. If they need a diploma then you’ll just need to wait as it will need to be authenticated and you obviously can’t do that until you have it.

      Reply
  29. I have been offered a teaching job and I do qualify for a Z visa and I am busy with the authentications. My onboard date is fast approaching and my school (reputable) has suggested I come into China with an L visa and will switch it to a work visa as soon as I arrive. This is mainly because of time due to my police clearance taking long. How safe, true and possible is this?

    Reply
    • It’s possible but risky and not at all legal. If your school is reputable they should know better than to ask this of you.

      Reply
    • Also, if you decide to risk it, make sure to amend your contract to ensure any additional fees like traveling to another city or country (and your hotel while you’re there) are covered.

      Reply
  30. Hi, i am a german citizen but my mother is british. Am I still being considered as a naitive speaker by chinese authorities?
    And does part-time work count as valuable work experience?
    Do you happen to know if it would be legal to do freelance work on the side while working in china?

    Reply
    • Hi Elena – your nationality will be determined by your passport so in this case you would not be considered a native speaker. Yes, part-time work counts as experience but no, you cannot do freelance work legally while working on a Z visa in China.

      Reply
  31. Hi, I just had my prospective employer send me a blank contract in Chinese/Mandarin, requesting I sign the document, claiming it was part of the visa application process, to send this document. They did not tell me it was a contract, but I got it translated. I kindly refused, telling them I was uncomfortable, and they haven’t come back to me for several days now. Is this a common thing – have you heard of anyone signing a blank contract as part of the process? Could their intentions be dishonest! I don’t think anyone could get me to sign a blank contract whether this is common or not. I suggested it was unprofessional and asked why they did not consider translating it, since they were employing English speakers. I was told the High Commission where it came from had workers who did not speak English. Red flag anyone? Or is it just me?

    Reply
    • While you usually sign a contract before the visa process starts, it should not be blank. I think you’re right to treat this a red flag – the contract is what will govern your working over the next year and it should have as much info as possible. It’s also your responsibility to get anything translated as schools have been known to give you one contract in Chinese and the other in English with the Chinese one being the official document and sometimes having additional info in it. If they don’t respond to you it’s probably best if you start looking for another job.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your reply. They have filled it today, but only with basic info including the salary. I have asked why the housing and travel allowance are missing, but they have said the “visa contract” does not require the inclusion of these benefits. Apparently the contract I will sign on my arrival, will include these missing perks. They also translated it, as I refused to sign and I had someone on my end translate it as well for comparison. I haven’t signed yet. Still thinking…

        Reply
        • I just talked to a friend who signed a ‘Work Agreement’ before the visa processing and then an official contract later on (but before her arrival in China). This is the only case Ive heard of like this but it sounds like it’s more of a Letter of Intent and most importantly should not be blank (but can have fewer details than the contract). Id go with your gut on this – if you’re happy with the communication thus far and get along with the school then it might be ok, if this is just another red flag I might start looking for other opportunities.

          Reply
  32. I need help, I just found out that the school I’m working at, is not the school on my contract. What steps can I take in order to terminate my contract and get a release letter? Kindly assist

    Reply
    • Hi Sophy – what have you done so far? The first thing Id do is talk to your current employer – what did they say? Im betting your school doesn’t have the ability to hire foreigners but you can always ask them to update your contract. If they refuse you can always go to SAFEA and seek their assistance.

      Reply
  33. Hello! Thank you for the article. It has been benefecial. I am facing a huge problem that I don’t know how to solve. I was interviewed by a center to teach English in their school in Langfang city. However, They failed to apply for Z visa for me and told me to come via business visa and everything will be safe. They sent me the invitation letter and I applied and got it. After searching online, I’ve found that it’s illegal and dangerous to teach English with business visa. I found another center that agreed to apply for Z visa for me. The problem is that when he’d tried to apply online for me, he found out that I’m already registered by another company. I messaged the first one and told them that it’s illegal and I won’t work with you guys with business visa, But they’ve refused to remove my application. Now, I’m stuck. If you guys know ay workaround for this, I would be very grateful. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Kaldi – there is no easy workaround here – your best option is to see if you can get the new school (with the Z visa) involved on your behalf. See if they can talk to the other school to try and work something out.

      Reply
  34. Thank you for replying. My worry was the fact it was blank; but they sorted it now. I have been happy with the communication so far. I have signed after telling them I no longer wanted to work with them and they panicked reassuring me it was def only for the visa processing (have been waiting for me for a long time). I will see how future communication goes.

    Reply
  35. Hi. Can someone clarify for me, please. In order to get a Z visa, you need a bachelor’s degree. I only have a 3-year diploma in Sound Engineering. Is there any way around this that doesn’t involve me going to study for 3-4 years to get a degree?

    Reply
    • Hi, Cameron. its strictly bachelors degree, however in some exceptions some districts in china that have less or no foreign teacher at all are a little flexible and can grant you a work permit for Z visa application so just give it a try. best of Luck 🙂

      Reply
  36. Hello. Was hoping you guys could clarify something for me. I’m currently living on an L visa in Shenyang – been here about 13 months living with my gf and just taking a sabbatical. I taught for two years at a university in Jiangsu on a Z visa from 2013-2015, then went back to the States (I’m a native US citizen) and now I’m back in China. I have been offered a nice contract with a school to teach and I’m trying to get all the stuff together that I will need. Got the FBI check done, so what I am really missing is an educational document that proves my Master’s from GWU and then trying to figure out who has to stamp what and what consulate to take it all to (I reallllly don’t want to fly all the way back to DC – so I’m researching agencies). My question is about the education thing: is a notarized transcript from the university acceptable, or does it have to be an original of the actual “sheepskin” that everyone hangs on their brag walls that I have to have stamped by DC and the State Dept? The transcript will be easy (easier) than the diploma as I have to order a replacement diploma and the turn around time for that is loooong (original turned to ash in a house fire years ago). So what do you guys think? Transcript or diploma? My potential school is a bit light (very light) on English and on the process in general, so I’m kind of shooting from the hip with this. Any advice would be most appreciated.

    Reply
  37. hi guys, i have gotten an offer from China Zheijing and i am looking to relocate to china in october with my boyfreind who does not hold a degree. before this i was offered a job by Thailand and the recruiter said they will be able to attach him on my visa to be able to find work over there, unfortunately i declined their offer, so what i need to know now is a way around this, if i go can china attach him on my visa or is there an alternative way around this ?

    Reply
    • Not entirely sure if I understand this, but if you’re asking if your boyfriend can be attached to your China work visa I dont think so – I believe that’s reserved for family and spouses and it’s likely he will need to arrange a visa on his own.

      Reply
  38. Hi,
    I am interested in attaining a TEFL job. I come from Trinidad and Tobago (whose people speaks English) and therefore I have a passport from there. I have teaching experience, a degree and a TEFL certificate yet I am finding it difficult to get responses to my applications. Do I have any hope of success?
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Janeal – yes, there is hope but you might need to look outside of tier 1 cities. Where have you looked so far and how many jobs have you applied for?

      Reply
  39. Hi Quincy Smith.
    Something is not very clear. I just applied for a visa Z yesterday. my company HR is telling me to wait for max 2 months when the immigration agent telling me to wait between 3 to 5 weeks and when here you said 3 to 7 days or longer (also see on others website)
    Also
    Some website said I could start working as soon as I get the work permit when here you said I need to wait to get the residence permit

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Jerome – the 3-7 days we refer to is how long it takes the embassy or consulate to process your Z visa paperwork and insert a visa into your passport. It sounds like your HR might be talking about the work permit?

      Reply
      • Hi Quincy

        I have a 4 year law degree and other postgraduate law related qualifications, all from South Africa (native speaking country), as well as a TEFL certificate, with over 2 years work in South Africa experience. Can I still get a Z visa to be an ESL teacher in China or other countries. I am not from what is considered “native English speaking country”.

        Reply
        • What passport do you hold? There are plenty of South Africans teaching legally in China and your qualifications should be fine.

          Reply
  40. HI Quincy,

    I have been offered a job. They said there is 2 ways to get the visa, the first way is the procedure you just listed.

    The second way they said was coming to China on tourist visa and bring with me

    1) bachelors degree that is notarized and transalated in both English and Chinese.

    2) background check that is notarized and translated into English in Chinese

    3) Medical check

    4) Work experience for the last 2 years

    5) They will then apply for z process on my behalf, which they said takes about a month. They said I will start working after a month. I have also not paid them anything.

    Reply
    • Hi Josh – all of the forms you listed sound correct but you should definitely get the Z visa before you arrive in China – while it might be possible to arrive on a tourist visa and transfer it to a Z, you’re putting yourself at a huge risk and it will be illegal for you to do any work at all until you have the Z visa.

      Reply
  41. Hi I have a question
    I am in Vietnam on a business visa waiting for the invitation letter from the Chinese university. But it’s looking like the I will have the letter in time to not overrun my vn visa
    Will I be able to get my Chinese visa on a vn tourist visa in Hanoi?

    Reply
    • Your VN visa should not impact your China visa at all.

      Reply
  42. Hi, I am Rusik from Uzbekistan. I have been studying in china for 2 years. I am endeavor to work however, I need Z visa according to the regulations of China. In spite of being a student am I able to obtain Z visa? or my university restricted me to get working Visa. Please, could you clarify it elaborately.

    Reply
    • Hi Rusik – I don’t believe that you can work on a student visa and I think you need the student visa to continue your studies, correct?

      Reply
  43. Hi Quincy,

    I am holding a Master degree in Business but I have limited teaching experience and no TEFL certificate at this moment. How likely would it be to obtain a Z visa if I am from The Netherlands to teach at a kindergarten? I am currently working for 1.5 years in sales.

    Reply
    • Hi Renate – being that you’re not a native speaker it’s going to be hard – there are jobs for non native speakers out there but you will need to look a bit harder.

      Reply
  44. Hi, I have received a work permit letter and I had some issues to apply for the z visa and the company that issued the permit for me have canceled the job offer because of the delays, So if I apply for the z visa now ( with the work permit that still not expired ), do I still need the company to help me with the rest of the process or I can finish it by my own and apply for another job ?

    Reply
    • Are you sure the original job didn’t cancel the permit/visa? You will likely need a new job to move forward as all paperwork is tied to the job so if your first one has been rescinded then I’m unsure how you will get the visa.

      Reply
  45. Hello, could you please tell us how or where to apply for a teaching job in china?
    any trusted recruitment agencies maybe? or if there’s an article on that then the link please.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • We hear good things about Teaching Nomad – try them first!

      Reply
  46. Hello,
    I got a job offer with a training center that doesn’t have the certificate to hire foreign teachers, they told me they are still in the process of application with the Chinese government ( Can a school be legal but still can’t hire foreign teachers? ).
    They sent me a work permit that has a different position (marketer) to apply for z visa. I have applied for the z visa, but now I’m thinking of cancelling the whole process and getting another school. I would like to know the risks of continuing with this and what are the implications are there if I withdraw?
    Thank you for reading.

    Reply
    • Hi Kay – yes, they can be legal and not be able to hire foreign teachers (for example they could just use Chinese employees). As to your other question – yes, there is some risk of this but it goes down the larger the city is. Still, my main concern here would be working for a company that is willing to cut corners – if they will hire without a permit Id be worried they might doing something suspect later on as well. If you withdraw there are unknown complications as your application has already been started and I really cant answer it – anecdotally Ive heard of other teachers having a hard time getting another visa as their original application is in a sort of processing purgatory and they cannot start a new one nor do they wish to keep the original going. Sorry – wish I had more info here!

      Reply
  47. Hi, can you tell me what could happen if two schools apply for a visa/work permit the same time accidentally?

    Reply
    • One of them will need to cancel the application in the government system.

      Reply
  48. Hi, I am from Singapore. I have a diploma in Accountancy and I am proficient both in English and Chinese. Do you think there’s a possibility for me to find a job to teach English in China?

    Reply
  49. Hi Quincy,

    I have a question about a short teaching stint in China, nanning. If the teaching assignment is to fly to and fro weekly to teach a few days every week for 1 to 2 months, would a work visa be required? i have heard that nanning has policies to attract foreigners to work or invest. Does it apply for work permit too?

    thank you

    Reply
    • Im unsure about Nanning policies but if you’re going to do any work in China you will need a proper Z working visa.

      Reply
  50. Hi Quincy,

    I am currently in China as a trailing spouse. I have a BA and I will be completing a teacher certification program within the next year. I have been told that the VISA requirements have changed again, requiring 2 years of teaching experience be mandatory and documented proof be provided.

    Is this correct?

    Reply
    • Hi Tim – that’s news to us, last we heard is 2 years of general work experience. I’m hesitant to believe this is countrywide as it would significantly reduce the number of available teachers.

      Reply

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