The Z-VISA Process for ESL Teachers China

The aim of this page is to give you guidance on how to Work Legally in China with the correct Z-VISA. We have spoken to the teachers we have worked with and used our own research to create this page, which means the requirements may change and are subject to the country you are coming from. Please note that this document was last updated on the 19th of July 2019, and policy may also change these requirements, so we suggest consulting your local council or accessing your government’s website for the most up to date information.

What do I need to get a VISA to teach English in China?

Here’s a list of requirements you’ll need to meet to become an ESL teacher in China:

  1. Fluent English speaker with a clear and audible accent
  2. Bachelor’s degree or above (non-native English speakers need to have theirs from a native English-speaking country)
  3. TEFL certificate, OR 2 years of teaching experience, OR English related degree
  4. Below the age of 60 years old
  5. No criminal record

Applying to be a Teacher in China for the first time

Teaching in China is a fun experience and coming here couldn’t be simpler. We’ve put together this webpage to help you on your way:

  1. Have a copy of your Bachelor’s Degree and your criminal check notarised by a public notary, then legalised/apostiled from your country’s government.
  2. Have your already notarised and legalised copy of your Bachelor’s Degree and your criminal check legalised by the Chinese Embassy in your home country. 
  3. The school now needs to apply for your work permit. They’ll need a list of documentation highlighted in below in the ‘Work Permit’ section.
  4. Z-VISA Application Time! The school will send you a work permit and an invitation letter, inviting you to the work at their school. Look at the ‘Z-VISA Application’ section for documents you’ll need to bring.
 When you’ve arrived in China, you’ll need to get your residence permit within 30 days of arrival. To do this, you’ll need to:
  1. Have a health check, ensuring you aren’t bringing any dangerous diseases into the country
  2. Apply for your FEC (Foreign Expert Certificate), from which it’ll take about 15 days to process

Once you have your FEC and Health Check completed, you can apply for your Residence Permit. This will take roughly 3 weeks, and they’ll require your passport for the duration.

Before coming to China, don’t forget:

  1. To make sure your passport is up to date and will last the entirety of your trip
  2. Most Criminal Checks expire, be sure to make sure yours up-to-date before sending it for notarisation
  3. HiredinChina is not your direct employer, so be sure to keep in touch with the school of your choosing

Ask Us A Question

We’re here to help you find your perfect teaching position in China.

Second Year in China - Uncooperative Employer

Legally in China, your employer does not have to transfer your work permit across to your new employer. This can leave you stuck and quite possibly having to restart the Z-VISA process, making you go back to your home country. However, there are actions you can take to mitigate a long stay in your home country and allow for a smooth, well-planned transition into your new teaching role with only a short stop-over.

Firstly, we recommend that you start your criminal check again early. This document can be valid for up to 6 months in the eyes of the Chinese government, meaning your current one is invalid. Have this applied for three months before the end of your contract, and have it posted directly to a public notary. They can notarise it for you and send it to the Chinese embassy with the other documents you’ve provided to make a successful application, without you having to leave China.

Secondly, provide your new employer with all your documents early, including your newly completed criminal check. You can see examples of finished ones below. It will take your employer 7 working days to apply for your work permit, an important document for your Z-VISA application.

Now, you’re ready to go back to your home country for a quick stop over at the VISA application centre. Remember to pre-book your appointment as some locations get very busy and need you to book an appointment for up to three weeks in advance.

Z-VISA Requirement List

  1. Copy of your Degree Certificate
  2. Original Criminal Police Check + photocopy
  3. Original TEFL certificate
  4. Photocopies of the notarised and apostilled documents
  5. Photocopy of your passport
  6. 4 Passport photos with a white background

Please note that your Degree Certificate and Criminal Check need to be  notarised first and apostiled before being taken to the Chinese Embassy to have them legalised.

  1. Copy of Degree Certificate – Apostilled
  2. Copy of Criminal Check – Apostilled
  3. Copy of TEFL certificate 
  4. Copy of your Passport
  5. Z-VISA issuing Location – Name of the City and Country

Please note your Degree Certificate, Criminal Check and TEFL must be clearly scanned, have colour and be saved as a PDF.

  1. Work Permit (2 pages)
  2. Invitation Letter from your school
  3. Original Passport
  4. Passport Copy
  5. 2 Passport Photos with a white background
  6. Typed Z-VISA Application Form – Download v 2013 here

Please make sure that for your Work Permit and Invitation Letter are printed in colour.

  1. Original Passport
  2. Original Degree Certificate
  3. Original TEFL certificate
  4. Original Police Check
  5. Original Notarised and Legalised Papers
  6. Invoice or receipt for the notarisation and legalisation (if you have agreed with your school that they will pay these fees)
  7. 6 Passport Photos

Document Examples

Alongside your unique University Degree and chosen TEFL qualification, there will be parts that are not so unique. These are the legal processes required by the Chinese government, from which recognition that you have completed process will be the same.

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Start your journey as a teacher in China