The most important document you need to teach English in China legally is a valid Z Visa. To get this visa you must be a native English speaker from the USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Ireland or New Zealand. You must also be aged between 18 – 60 years old, have no criminal record, hold a bachelors degree and TEFL certificate.
How to Get a Work Visa for China
Getting your Z Visa to work in China is a fairly simple, streamlined process that can honestly be completed in just a few week’s time. To get started, you’ll first need to secure a job in China as the visa process is first initiated by your future employer. Once you’ve found a job, you’ll send them a copy of your passport, degree, resume, TEFL, clear criminal background check and passport photos. Since none of these need to be originals you can simply e-mail them scans or photos. They will then use these documents to apply for your work permit and draft your invitation letter. They can usually obtain these in about a week’s time, at which point they will mail you a packet of documents you’ll need.
Once your paperwork has arrived in your home country, you’re ready to gather the documents needed by your nearest embassy or consulate:
- Passport with at least 1 year remaining validity
- Visa Application Form (http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fd/W020130830801798289342.pdf )
- A great question-by-question guide to completing this form can be found at (http://www.visarite.com/china_visa_form_howto.htm )
- Foreign Workers Permit (supplied by your employer)
- Letter of Invitation (supplied by your employer)
- Confirmation of Invitation (supplied by your employer)
- Passport photos
These documents will be submitted, along with your visa fee (varies country to country), to the consulate that has jurisdiction for your residence. The turn-around can be as quick as 5 days in many cases, though you should be prepared to wait at least 2 weeks if necessary.
Embassy & Consulate Information:
South Africa: http://www.chinese-embassy.org.za/eng/lqfw/guidelines/visa/
Once your visa is processed, double check it for mistakes and pack your bags!
Once in China, you must then obtain a police registration form (within 24 hours of arrival), a work permit, a medical check and a residency permit as your Z Visa is only valid of a limited amount of time.
This is all done in country and you should be helped throughout these stages by your recruiter or school.
Information on What to do when you arrive in China will be covered in a future post.