To qualify to live and work in China, a Foreign Expert Certificate and a Residence Permit are required. In general, a TEFL certification (120 hours covers requirements across all schools/regions) is required for teaching in China.

To qualify to live and work in China, a Foreign Expert Certificate and a Residence Permit are required. In general, a TEFL certification (120 hours covers requirements across all schools/regions) is required for teaching in China.

The Foreign Expert Certificate and Residence Permit are applied for with the assistance of your school (employer) once you have arrived in China. In order to apply for them, you will need a Z Visa, which is generally processed before you travel to China and allows you to live and work in China until the Residence Permit is processed.

The Z Visa is a single-entry visa which is valid for 30 days after date of entry into the country and allows the holder to apply for a Residence Permit. To apply for the Z visa, take copies of the following documents, along with your passport, to the Chinese Embassy/Consulate in your home country: passport information page, degree certificate (the actual certificate, not transcript, which the Embassy will need to stamp to authenticate), TEFL certificate, passport-size photo and your invitation letter. Enquire as to when you will get the work visa (normally 1-5 working days) and advise the school of this date. You should bring the originals of all the visa documents with you when you travel to China.

Once you arrive in China, your school will take you to the local police bureau to register your passport and visa details. They will also arrange a medical at this point if it is required. They will then apply for the Foreign Expert Certificate (this will take 7-10 working days) and once this is received, will take you to the visa office to submit your passport and application for your Residence Permit (this will take a further 5-7 working days).

To summarize, you will need some or all of the following documents to complete the visa process:

  • 2 letters of recommendation (ink-signed and scanned)
  • Scanned passport photo (also bring 8 passport photos)
  • Information page of your passport (scanned)
  • Degree certificate (copy of your actual certificate, not transcript)
  • Teaching Certificate (TEFL certificate or teaching certificate or both)
  • Criminal background check (original)
  • Signed contract
  • Signed commitment letter (Some locations)
  • Copy of your medical check report