How to Get a Legal Working VISA for Teaching in China?


Teaching english in China is a good idea for foreigners that don’t have a very smooth or satisfying life in their home countries, or those who want to experience exotic life and so on. Once you decide to teach english in China, you should know teaching in China as a foreign teacher legally needs a z working visa with a Foreign Expert Certificate. In the following paragraphs, I will explain, from my experience, the process of getting a legal z working visa for China.

The first step is finding a school you would like to work for, signing a contract.

The second step is collecting all the documents required by a school, actually by a Foreign Expert Bureau.

First of all, you need to prepare for some basic documents.  The contract signed by you and stamped by your school is needed. After that, modify your resume to make it more complete. The start date and the finish date of your high school and university education should be included. All your experience since graduation from university should be listed, also it should include the start and finish date, and the experience should be continuous. This is the cv part. Scan your degree, TEFL or TESOL or CELTA certificate, passport, some schools will need original copies. Do a medical check in a hospital that can stamp on the health check form provided by the school you signed with. Do a police background check at a local police station. Some schools will need your original degree and medical check before applying for the working permit and invitation letter. Only a few schools don’t require the medical check or the police check result. Some schools will also need a notarized medical and police check done by your country. Some need the authenticated copies done by the Chinese Embassy. You will need to take a photo of two inch as well, and prepare for a reference letter of two years’ teaching experience. The last document is the authenticated degree from the Chinese Embassy in your country. This is a new policy issued in the beginning of 2016. This has influenced many foreigners’ plans, since some cities or schools don’t allow you to get it done in China,  though there are a few schools not requiring it.

This process will take around one month to finish, some might take longer time.

The third step is on the school’s side. After getting all the documents, your school will start filling out some application forms online, at this time, you will be asked several questions, regarding the online application, fr example, marital status,  with dependents or not, overseas address and phone number and etc. About a week later, it will show whether the application passes or not. If it passes, the school will submit all the paperwork to the Foreign Expert Bureau, then wait for the result. Around two or three weeks later, some might take a month or a little more, your school will receive the working permit and invitation letter. They will post the two documents to you in your country, only a few could use the scan copies. Suppose you are not in your country, some schools won’t be able to send the documents to you. There are some schools that require you to apply for a z working visa in your home country, like Tianjin, Dalian, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hefei and etc. It will take 3-6 days to post the documents, then you can take them to the Chinese Embassy to apply for the working visa. You will be asked to fill out a form and to answer some questions, easy to deal with. Z visa will take around one week to process.

The fourth step is booking a flight to China, and arrange pick-up. After your arrival, your school will take you to register at the police station and do medical check in location hospital, which is required, even though you might have done it before coming. Your z visa page will be valid for one month only, so your school will go to apply for the resident permit and the Foreign Expert Certificate within this time period. Finally you can teach in China legally.

In conclusion, the whole z visa process (start from collecting documents) will take 1.5 months to 3 months to finish. Usually, two months is enough. Hope you are patient to cooperate with your school and your ESL agent to get everything done correctly and smoothly. As long as you get close contact with your agent and your school, you will get a satisfying result and finally come to teach english in China and enjoy your life here.

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