Updated: Mar 8
Before you decide to teach in China, you must have checked a lot of information online. You may find some stories about illegal work, arrest, and deportation in China. Therefore, I strongly suggest you getting a work visa if you want to work in China.
During the interview, you should ask your agent or employer if they can provide a work visa. You need to be careful if the school tries to find an excuse to refuse to provide a work visa and assures you that you can teach in China through a business visa or a tourist visa. And we can tell you with certainty that they are not reliable agents or schools because this is illegal and risky. The employers will only be fined for hiring an illegal foreign teacher. But you will be deported and it will leave you a bad record.
This article will give you an introduction on how to apply for a work permit. Before you get a work permit, you need to get a Z visa. Getting a Z visa is a prerequisite for your legal work in China. The Z visa is only valid for 30 days. After you enter with a Z visa, you need to register at the local police station. Then go to the local Foreign Expert Bureau and the Exit and Entry Bureau to apply for a work permit and a residence permit. After obtaining the work permit and residence permit, you will be able to officially start working in China.
Step 1: Prepare for materials you need.
What kind of visa or documents that you need to prepare before you start to apply for a Z Visa.
1: Highest Degree& Authenticated Degree
Either Bachelor's, Master's or Doctor's degree must be authenticated by a Chinese Embassy or notarized by your country’s embassy/consulate in China only if you are in China (e.g. U.S. consulate in China)
* You must bring the original degree and authenticated documents to China
2: A 120 hour or above TEFL certificate / 2 years related teaching experience
1) Your teaching experience should be proved by your previous employer with a signature from a manager/director or an official seal of the company. It should also include the date and phone number/email (valid).
2) The 120 hour TEFL certificate must be notarized by the notary public.
If you do not have TEFL certificate？ -----Link ( TEFL course)
* You must bring the original reference letter to China since printed documents are not recognized as original. Your 120 hours or above TEFL must have the original paper certificate, you must bring the original120 hour TEFL notarized documents to China.
3: Non-Criminal Certificate & Authentication of Non-Criminal Statement
You need to provide the Non-Criminal Certificate, background check or police check letter from the local police or a court or the Government Security Department (e.g. FBI) in your home country. It must be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country. This non-criminal background check (CBC) must be valid within 6 months of applying for your work permit.
How to obtain it and get it authenticated will be varied between countries:
US Citizens – FBI
UK Citizens – ACRO, DBS, Disclosure Scotland
Canada – RCMP
Australia – AFP
* You must bring the original non-criminal certificate and authenticate documents to China
4: Foreigner Physical Examination Form
Take the Foreigner Physical Examination Form to a local hospital and do basic medical examinations with the signature and seal of the hospital on the form. (Not necessary to do X-RAY, ECC, or Laboratory exam attached test report of AIDS, Syphilis, etc.)
*Please bring the original examination form to China.
5: Passport info Page
6: Passport photo
A recent colored passport photo or a head-shot photo with a white background
Please note that all the scanned documents you sent must be true and correct, in addition, all the soft copy must be scanned in color (some applicant sent black and white print notary document with black-white seal, and their applications were rejected), if the original documents are in black-white, please inform the school before the application.
Step 2: Z Visa application
How to apply for a Z visa in your country？
Please remember to call the Chinese embassy or book it online before you go there.
Necessary documents to apply for the Z visa in the Chinese Embassy/Consulate：
1. Notification of a work permit letter from the China Foreign Expert Bureau (Sample)
2. An invitation letter from the school
3. A head-shot passport photo
4. Fill in a visa application form when you apply for a Z visa in the Chinese Embassy or Consulate
5. Bank Card to pay for the visa application fee
6. Other required documents if necessary
Please note that the Z visa is only valid for 30 days. After you arrive in China, your school or your agency will help you to take all the documents to the Foreign Bureau for verification. Therefore, you must bring the original copy with you. If you do not bring the originals of the above materials, you will not be able to obtain a work permit.
Step 3: Apply work permit and resident permit
After you arrive in China, you have 30 days to obtain a work visa. The Z visa is a single entry visa, so you need to obtain a work permit and a residence permit. Your school and agency will help you to get your work visa as soon as possible.
After you arrive, the first thing to do is to register accommodation at the police station around your residence. Then you need to go to the designated hospital for medical examination. You will get the result after about 5 working days. After that, the school will take you to the Foreign Expert Bureau to apply for a work permit and a residence permit. Depending on the situation in each city, it may take 7-10 working days to apply for a residence permit. During this period, the Foreign Bureau will retain your passport. After all the things are finished, you will get a work visa, and you could start working in China!