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How Do I Get a Visa to Work in China?

The process of getting a work visa can be a bit complicated, but with the right information and preparation, you can successfully obtain a visa and begin your work in China as an English teacher.

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You're considering teaching English in China but are unsure of the steps to take in order to obtain a visa? Don't fret, we've got you covered! From FBI background checks to job offers, to gathering documents to apply for your actual visa, read on to find out what exactly you need to do to undergo a smooth visa application process.

How to Get a Visa for China as an English Teacher

How Hard is it to Get a Work Visa in China as an English Teacher?

Getting a work visa in China can be a bit challenging, as the process can be time-consuming and the requirements can be strict. However, if you have a job offer from an authorized Chinese company, obtain the necessary documents and meet the eligibility requirements, the process can be relatively straightforward. It's best to check with the Chinese embassy or consulate for the latest information and seek guidance from your potential employer.

Read more: A 6-Step Plan to Get a Job Teaching English in China

Types of China Work Visa

Z Visa

The most common type of visa for English teachers to obtain is the Z visa. This visa allows English teachers to legally work in China. The school that hires you should help you obtain this visa – you cannot obtain a Z Visa if you do not have a job offer.

L Visa

If your school wants you to obtain any other type of visa, be sure to ask why and to understand what type of visa you will be getting. From time to time, schools will need a teacher to start working almost immediately and they don’t have time to wait for the teacher to obtain a Z Visa. If this happens, the teacher will typically go to China on a L visa (tourist visa) and then get a work visa once in China.

F Visa

Not to confuse matters further, but there is also the F visa, also referred to as a business visa. Depending on the teacher’s qualifications, some schools may assist teachers in obtaining an F visa rather than a Z visa. It is also common to travel to China on an F visa and have it converted once in China to a Z visa as F visas are much quicker to obtain than Z visas.

The bottom line is the school that hires you should be providing you with guidance and instructions, and once you are an enrolled student at International TEFL Academy, our Student Affairs Team can provide assistance and guidance to you as you proceed through the hiring process.

China Z Visa Requirements for English Teachers

To get a visa for China as an English teacher, you need to have a job offer from a Chinese school or language center, obtain a work permit and invitation letter, apply for a visa at the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country, undergo a medical check-up, and wait for the visa processing time. It's best to check with the Chinese embassy or consulate for the latest information and ask your potential employer for guidance.

How to Get Z Visa?

To obtain a visa to work in China, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Gather all required documents

  2. Find a teaching job in China

  3. Send documents to your school in China

  4. Obtain a work permit & invitation letter

  5. Apply for a Visa

1. Gather All Required Documents

This should begin before you even have a job offer for teaching English in China.

  1. Passport - You must have at least six months of validity left and at least two blank pages.
  2. Passport-sized photos - you can usually get these done at Walgreens or similar convenient stores.
  3. University Diploma and Transcripts - You should have a sealed copy of your transcripts and an original diploma.
  4. Local Police Background Check/FBI Background Check - some positions will only require a local background check, while others will require/request an FBI Background Checks:
    • It can take up to 3-4 months to go through the FBI
    • You can use an approved FBI channeler for a fee, but will expedite the process
    • Must be less than six months old
  5. Get an apostille for your diploma and background check.  This typically takes 2-three weeks.
  6. Resume - Once you are enrolled in your TEFL class at International TEFL Academy, our Student Affairs Advisors will be happy to work on this with you to make sure it meets Chinese requirements.
  7. TEFL Certificate - Typically required to get hired to teach English in China.

Read more:

Teach English in China visa TEFL

2. Find a Teaching Job in China

You will need to have a job offer from a Chinese school that is authorized to hire foreign workers. All International TEFL Academy students and graduates benefit from lifetime job search guidance to help them find TEFL jobs in China.


3. Send Documents to Your School in China

Send all your documents to the school. Send these through a private carrier so they can be tracked. The list of required documents may differ between schools, but below is a basic list:

  1. Copy of original degree with Apostille (Check with your Chinese consulate if they need an original or if a photocopy of the original is ok.)
  2. Two sets of sealed university transcripts
  3. Notarized FBI/local police criminal background check and appropriate authentication
  4. Copy of your resume
  5. A signed copy of the contract
  6. Two passport-sized photos

4. Obtain a Work Permit & Invitation Letter

After sending in all your documents to your school in China, you will wait to receive the following documents from your school:

  1. Alien Employment License or Foreign Expert Work Permit

  2. Visa Notice or Visa Notification Letter or Invitation Letter


5. Apply for a Visa

Once you receive your Visa Invitation Letter you can submit your visa application to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country. For most cities, you will not have to make an appointment as they have walk-in hours.

Teach English in China visa TEFL

China Z Visa Application & Required Documents

Check the website of your local Chinese consulate for specific details:

1.  Original signed passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a copy of the passport's data page and the photo page if it is separate.

2.  One completed Visa Application Form (Form V.2013) with a recently-taken color passport photo (bare-head, full face) against a light background attached.

3.  Alien Employment License or Foreign Expert Work Permit Visa Notice and  Visa Notification Letter or Invitation Letter.

4.  Visa fee - Check with your consulate; however it will be around $140 (credit card, money order, or cashier’s check accepted) and is processed in four business days.


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