Once you have accepted a job offer for teaching in China, you will need to start the process of applying for a Z Visa. This is a single entry visa which allows you to enter China and is valid for 30 days. Once in China, your school will then apply for your work/residence permit on your behalf. Don’t worry – your school will guide you through each step of the process and we at TFA also provide support and advice when needed.

The 2 parts to the China visa application process are:

  1. Before you enter China, you apply for a Z Visa.
  2. Once you have arrived in China, the school will apply for your work permit.

Here’s a summary of the steps involved:

Step 1 – Notification (Invitation) Letter Application (Required for the Z-Visa)

Once you have signed a contract with the school, they will require you to send them scanned copies of all the following documents, which they use to apply for your notification letter:

Colour scan of your passport (first two pages)

Digital passport photo (4:3 headshot on a white background)

Colour scan of your TEFL certificate (if applicable)

Colour scan of your degree

Colour scan of a “Police certificate” (criminal background check) which must be issued less than 6 months before entry into China, showing that you have a clean record.  This is issued by the Garda Síochána, so call into your local Garda station or check out https://www.garda.ie/en/About-Us/Online-ServicesData-Protection-FOI-Police-Certificates/Police-Certificates.html for details.

– Physical/Medical exam report (if required – this can also be done on arrival in China)

– Signed reference letters from previous employers, especially for education-related work (if required).

When you have sent all of the above to the school, they will apply for your notification letter. This can take several weeks. They send the letter and the pack of your documents back to you.

NOTE: Remember to send the colour scans of your degree and background check to the school BEFORE you start the process of legalizing these documents to ensure the school can start the application for the notification letter promptly or this can delay the whole visa process. You should also specify the embassy (city and country) where you will apply for your Z visa.

Step 2 – Legalizing/Authenticating your Documents in this specific order:

  1. Have your degree certificate and background check (and your TEFL certificate, if required) notarized by a notary public.
  2. Take these documents to the Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA) on St Stephen’s Green for authentication. The DFA opens at 9:30am and the process is very quick. https://www.dfa.ie/
  3. Take the stamped documents to the Chinese Embassy on Merrion Road (15-minute walk from the DFA) for final legalization. Note that the Embassy shuts at 12 noon, so the best plan is to arrive early (it gets busy after 10am). The Embassy no longer has a photocopier for public use, so make sure you bring all your documents already photocopied! When you submit your application, they give you a pink slip, which is your reference/receipt. You need to bring this slip with you when you collect the documents, along with the fee (20 euro per document being legalized) which is payable by postal order. The legalization process takes about 5-7 days. It is possible to have someone else collect your visa, once they have your pink slip and the postal order to cover the fee. There is an option for an express service, but this still takes 3-4 days and incurs an increased fee. http://ie.chineseembassy.org/eng/

Step 3 – Z Visa Application

You should download, print off and complete the visa application form from the Embassy website (see above link) before going to the Embassy so that you can submit it along with your documents (your notification letter, passport and other documents from Step 1 and your legalized documents from Step 2).

Step 4- Work permit application in China (original documents will be required):

The work/residence permit is applied for following your arrival in China. The documents required for this process are the same as you submitted to your school in Step 1 except for the fact that the colour scans of your degree and background check must be of the versions legalized by the Chinese Embassy.

PLEASE NOTE: You will need to bring originals of all the documents with you to China as originals are required for the work permit application. Your degree certificate will be returned to you, they will retain the background check. They won’t return the TEFL certificate to you, so ensure you submit the legalized copy of it.