Z (Work) Visa Guide: What to do in your home country (Phase 1)

Recently, my post explaining how to get a document notarized for a Chinese Work visa has been getting some attention. So I thought I’d add some detail to it. Unfortunately, when finding work abroad, things can get messy. And China has become a difficult place to move to. Working there legally has two phases. Phase 1 is getting a Work Visa and flying to China.

The Stressful Stages of Legally Entering China for Work Purposes:

Stage 1 Getting the job: Get a job with a learning institution willing to sponsor a Z-Visa.

Do not accept a job from an institution that offers you an L-Visa. This is a tourist visa and will not work. In the past teachers have gone to China on a tourist visa and had it converted to a work visa by making a quick trip to Hong Kong. However, there are new laws. These laws mean that you cannot go to Hong Kong to convert the tourist visa into a work visa. You will need to go back to your home country. So it’s worth just getting the work visa.

Many institutions may not be aware of these new laws due to slow administration. China is a big place so it’s also possible that these new laws affect different regions in different ways. This vlog breaks down some of the main points.

Stage 2 Getting the documents sorted: Get the necessary initial documents to said institution so that they can apply for a work permit on your behalf. The process to get these documents is long and expensive (although different employers reimburse you for different parts). If you are set on China – get these sorted before and as you are applying for jobs. This should be stage 1 really.

  1. Reference/Recommendation Letter(s) – to show proof of experience.
    – Must contain position/title, commissions and duration of your experience.
    – Must be signed/stamped by supervisor/employer.
    – Should recommend you 🙂
    – Total duration should be more than 2 years (this is flexible if you have a teaching qualification)
  2. Physical Examination form – this is a form that will be emailed to you by your employer, but you can find it here too (last link). Needs to be completed by a UK doctor.
  3. Photocopy of Passport information page
  4. Scanned headshot (white background, 1024×768 pixels, JPEG, taken within 6 months)
  5. Your signed contract (get is, read it, ask questions, sign and scan back)

(The following documents need to be notarised by the Chinese Embassy/Consulate)

  1. Photocopy of highest degree certificate
  2. Photocopy of teaching certificate
  3. Certificate of no criminal record (In the UK a DBS or ACRO)

Stage 3 Getting the Invitation Letter: Your employer takes your documents and sorts out your health insurance etc to apply for an Invitation Letter on your behalf. You will also need to tell your employer which Visa Centre you intend to get your visa. This process takes between 15 to 20 days.

Stage 4 Getting the Visa: Take the Invitation Letter along with your passport, Visa Form etc to your nearest visa centre. Some Visa centres require fingerprinting before you collect the Visa. Visa processing takes 3-4 days. This website is pretty useful for additional information.

Once you have your visa, book your flight! ^_^

Note: I write about the processes I have been through. This guide will be updated as I continue through this process and have the most up to date information.

Are you going through this process? Have you been through it before? Share your experience, problems and solutions in the comments below!


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