So after a stressful video interview with a Chinese potential employer, you have received a successful response confirming you have now landed a teaching job in China. Now what?
Regardless of which country you’re from, if you want to work in China you will have to get a Chinese work visa. More specifically, a type “Z” visa.
Getting the type Chinese work Z visa can be a long and tedious process. Add to that a for-the-most-part non-user-friendly and unclear Chinese embassy website, and you can expect to have a frustrating experience.
This article will walk you through the various steps of obtaining a work Z visa for China.
When Should I Apply for the Chinese Work Z Visa?
It is important to start the application process early, as there are a few steps and back-and-forths required in order to obtain the Chinese work Z visa.
If possible, try to start the process between 2 to 3 months prior to your work start date. Although 2 to 3 months may sound a little bit too early to obtain a visa, it isn’t.
My Chinese work Z visa took a total of 2 months and a half to get done from the moment I began gathering the paperwork required to present to the government. My documents sat at the Chinese government office for 7 weeks before my visa was processed, and I only got my documents the day prior to my scheduled flight. Other colleagues arrived late due to delays.
Once obtained, the visa requires entry by the applicant within 90 days from the date of issuance.
What Are the Requirements for a Chinese Work Z Visa?
1. Criminal Background Check
This is more of a requirement that the school may have in order to hire you as a teacher. You must obtain a criminal background check letter confirming that you do not have a criminal record in your country of residence. Make sure to confirm whether a letter from your local police station is acceptable, as some schools will require the letter to come from a higher governmental body.
2. Document Authentication
Before the school can apply to their government to have an invitation letter issued (more on that further below), they must obtain an “authenticated” copy of your documentation.
Photocopies of the following documents must be first notarized, and then authenticated by a government body which can confirm the validity of the notary stamp:
- TEFL certificates (if applicable)
- University certificate (if applicable)
- Criminal background check (if applicable)
- Passport (photo page)
Once the documents are authenticated, they must be presented to the Chinese embassy who will then approve their validity. Only after can the documents be sent to your employer for the next step.
3. Invitation Letter
In order to be able to apply for a Chinese work Z visa, an invitation letter or its equivalent must be presented with your application.
Upon receipt of the authenticated documents from section 2, the school will send these to their local government office, requesting from the latter to authorize them to issue you an invitation letter.
This part of the process is the one that takes the longest. The good news is that this step is handled by the school in China, with no involvement required from your part.
Once the invitation letter is issued, a copy will be e-mailed to you.
4. Z Visa Application
The following documents must be presented to your Chinese embassy or consulate to apply for the Chinese work Z visa:
- Photo of application (passport format)
- Photocopy of invitation letter
- Visa application form
The delay in obtaining the visa is of 2 to 4 days. Occasionally, the embassy may require a face-to-face interview with the applicant.
Work Permit & Foreigner Residence Permit
The Chinese work Z visa that will be issued is a single entry work visa, with a duration of stay of “000” (undetermined). This is due to the fact that once arrived in China, you must apply for a Foreigner Residence Permit within 30 days from the date of entry.
Step 1 – Work Permit
The first step is for your employer to apply and obtain a work permit.
Your employer will require to take your passport for this. The work permit is a card that authorizes you to legally work in China. This card is valid for the duration of your employment with your current employer, and is normally kept by them.
Step 2 – Foreign Residence Permit
The foreigner residence permit is a multiple entry document, and is valid for a period of 365 days.
Once the work permit is issued, your employer will take you to a government office to apply for your foreign residence permit. The office will keep your passport and will, in return, provide you with a Residence Permit Application Receipt, which will double as your ID for the time you will not have your passport.
This process can take anytime from 2 to 4 weeks.