You’ve accepted a teaching position in China, so now it’s time to navigate the process of obtaining a visa for teaching in China. Though it can seem daunting, we are here to help and our experienced teams will solve any problems along the way.
After placement (if you’re still job hunting, visit our vacancies page), we will put you in touch with the international curriculum center or independent school you will be working with and they will start to guide you through the visa application process. School or center staff will send you specific instructions after you confirm acceptance of the job offer. Please note that visa requirements and application processes can change, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local Chinese embassy for up to date information (link opens to the Chinese embassy in the USA).
To help you in the meantime, here are some of the most common questions we receive about the process of obtaining a visa for teaching in China:
1) What kinds of visas are there?
There are a number of different kinds of visas for China but the most common are tourist (L), business (M or F) and work (Z). We support all new employees to gain a work visa for teaching in China and these are renewed annually.
2) What documents do I need to provide to get my Z visa?
Each location has different requirements but generally to obtain a Z visa you will need an up-to-date criminal background check and your highest degree diploma. You will need both of these documents authenticated/legalized by the Chinese embassy in your country. You will also need references and a medical certificate.
3) How long does it take to collect all these documents?
The process can vary, but generally takes about six to eight weeks if everything goes very quickly and you encounter no surprises. Note that almost everyone encounters at least one stumbling block so we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get the process started as soon as possible. The most important thing to do is to start on the authentications/legalizations immediately.
4) Should I wait to send all my documents at once or as I get them?
Definitely send them as you get them as the sooner we can review the documents the better.
5) What does the timeline look like?
- Criminal background check (10 minutes) – in many countries this can be applied for online.
- Authentication/legalization process (six weeks plus) – it can take a number of weeks to get the necessary authentication/legalization of your criminal background check and university diploma (degree certificate) to confirm that they are official documents in your country. Plus, it can then four to five weeks to obtain the authentications of these from the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.
- Reference letter(s) and medical check (one to five weeks) – this varies depending on your reference and how quickly you can get a doctor’s appointment.
- Passport photo and forms (two days) – you can get a photo taken at a store and the forms can be filled out quickly so should take just a day or two at most.
- Apply for work permit notification (four weeks) – this is done in China on your behalf.
- Visa (one to two weeks) – once the work permit notification is issued you apply for a visa at your local Chinese consulate/embassy. You can either use an agent or go in person.
- Schedule your flight – once you have your visa you are ready to get your plane ticket!
6) I don’t have my actual degree but can get transcripts. Will this work?
No, you need the actual diploma (certificate) and will need to order a copy from your university. There is no exception to this.
7) I had a work visa for China a few years ago and didn’t need to do all this. Why do I need to now?
Visa requirements change frequently in China in general, while different provinces and regions also have varying regulations. Rest assured, we want this process to go as smoothly as possible so we will do anything we can to make it easier.
8) Can I bring my pet?
Our advice is to arrive in China first and then send for your pet. Some teachers have done this successfully, but it is something you need to confirm on your own as it depends on the city in which you are working. Only cats and dogs can be imported into China.
9) Can I travel before I arrive in China?
You have to get the Chinese visa in your home country and, in most cases, this won’t happen until shortly before you depart so you may not have time to travel extensively. Once you have your visa, however, and depending on your official contract starting date with your center you may have time to do some travelling prior to arriving in China.
10) Can I arrive in China early to settle in?
The day you arrive in China is the day your contract starts and the date you start earning your salary, so in most cases you have to arrive on the scheduled arrival date.