How to get a Chinese Z Visa

Why you need a Z Visa to teach in China

Total % of teachers working illegally in China (not on a Z visa) 67%
Total % of teachers working legally in China (on a Z visa) 33%
% of SDE Teachers working legally on a Z visa 100%

The first step to legally working in China, after you sign an employment contract, is getting your Chinese “Z” work visa. While 2/3 of foreign English teachers in China are working illegally (usually on a tourist or business visa), SDE SeaDragon Education is supported by the Chinese government and complies with all Chinese employment laws by only hiring the best, most qualified candidates.

When looking for a job in China, it is important that you confirm with your company that you will indeed receive a Z visa BEFORE YOU BEGIN TEACHING. This can be accomplished through two ways:

-Applying for and receiving your work visa in your home country before departing to China

-If working near or within Shenzhen, applying with all of your documents at the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border

Below is a complete guide on how to obtain your work permit and Z visa to begin working in Shenzhen, China. Remember to always consult your Chinese school/employer with any questions or concerns you may have during the process. Visa laws and regulations frequently change and vary throughout Chinese cities, so while this guide will be frequently updated, some details may be irrelevant or outdated.

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for a US candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by a notary public for low/no cost (most banks will do it for free).

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, go to your state’s local department/secretary of state office to get the documents authenticated.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to your state’s Chinese consulate/embassy (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record is most easily obtained for free at any local police station. They should be able to notarize if for you as well.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

*New steps as of October 2018*

This step is only relevant if you’re in Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, and Tennessee. Documents notarized in these states must be authenticated at the county level after they’re notarized. County authentication can be obtained from a circuit clerk, circuit court, county clerk, probate judge, or a superior court clerk.

This step is only relevant if you’re in Washington DC, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Documents issued in these states must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State after they’re certified by your local Secretary of State’s office.

Follow this link for more official information on the notarization, apostille, and authentication processes.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee ($140 = 4 business days, $165 = 2-3 business days, $177 = 1 business day)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 956 RMB (~$134) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for a UK candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by a notary public or solicitor.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, go to the Foreign Commonwealth Office to get the documents authenticated.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the Chinese embassy (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for consulate legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by a local police station or the national government here.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 304 RMB (~35 GBP) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for an Irish candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by a notary public.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, send your documents to the Legalization Office of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. You may also take them yourself to the offices in either Cork or Dublin.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the Chinese embassy or consulate general (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by the Irish National Police.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 304 RMB (~35 GBP) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for a Canadian candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by a notary public.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, bring your documents to the Authentication and Service of Documents Section of Global Affairs Canada office.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the Chinese embassy (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 304 RMB (~35 GBP) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for an Australian candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by any Australian notary public.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, bring your documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for authentication.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the relevant Chinese embassy or consulate general (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization. You must take your documents to the embassy or consulate within the same jurisdiction that they were notarized.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by the Australian Federal Police.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 304 RMB (~35 GBP) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for a New Zealand candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be notarized, authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Documents may be notarized by a notary public.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, bring your documents to the Department of Internal Affairs Authentication Unit for authentication. They will then be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for verification.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the relevant Chinese embassy or consulate (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by the Ministry of Justice.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Chinese Z work visa upon arrival at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border

If obtaining your Z visa upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will simply wait until your Chinese school/employer has received you Notification of Work Permit letter, fly to Hong Kong, and proceed to the Shenzhen border with the following documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Two recent passport sized color photos
  3. 304 RMB (~35 GBP) to pay for the visa fee

A representative from your Chinese school/employer (in this case your specialist 🙂 from SDE) will meet you at the border and provide you with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of your passport information page
  2. Official Chinese employer visa invitation letter
  3. Notification of work permit letter
  4. Company Chinese operating license
  5. Completed Z visa application form

After receiving these documents, you will simply walk over to the visa office at the border, apply for your Z visa, and receive in usually less than one hour. You may then proceed across the border with your new Z visa and your specialist from SDE will guide you the rest of the way.

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

Procedure for obtaining a Chinese Z work visa for a South African candidate

Step 1: Obtaining the necessary documents for your Chinese work permit

Before receiving a Z visa, your Chinese school/employer must first apply for your work permit and official invitation letter. For them to do so, you must provide them with the following documents:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher (must be notarized*, authenticated*, and legalized*)
  2. Criminal background check* (must be authenticated, legalized, and issued within 6 months of your visa application)
  3. Physical health check form with doctor’s signature and office stamp (completed sample form)
  4. Scanned copy of your passport photo page (with at least 6-months remaining before it expires and two blank visa pages)
  5. Signed Chinese employment contract
  6. A clear, in color passport sized head-shot photo on white background
  7. ONE of the following documents:

TEFL*/TESOL/CELTA certification with a course duration of at least 120 hours (must be notarized)

-A degree majoring in English, Education, English Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or some other related subjects.

-At least 2 years of post-graduate full time teaching experience with confirming reference letters

-A teaching license from your home country

Once scanned COLOR COPIES of these documents have been sent to your Chinese school/employer, they will apply for your notification of work permit letter at their local city’s visa office which will take 10-15 business days (note: different schools and cities may require slightly different documents or have slightly different visa procedure so please contact your Chinese employer for more details).

*Notarization: Degree must be notarized/verified by the Department of Higher Education and Learning. Other documents (such as TEFL) can be done by a notary public.

*Authentication: AFTER notarization, bring your documents to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for authentication.

*Legalization: AFTER notarization and authentication, take your documents to the relevant Chinese embassy or consulate (please send documents to your SDE recruiter beforehand so they may double check everything) for legalization.

*Background Check: The background check/no criminal record can be issued by the South African Police Department. It must be stamped by the police as well.

*Need a TEFL? SDE will PAY for you to get one if you’re coming to work for us. Just ask your recruiter for more info.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it may be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you. Please contact an SDE recruiter for more information.

Step 2: Applying for and Receiving your Chinese Z work visa

This next step depends on how and when you will be receiving your Z visa. If working in or near Shenzhen, China, then there are two possible legitimate ways to go about this. The first is to apply for and receive your Z visa back in your home country at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate before coming to China. The second is to fly into Hong Kong with your papers and apply for and receive your Z visa at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. The first option takes significantly longer and can be a hassle with having to travel to your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate multiple times. The second option is much quicker (usually finished in less than an hour at the border) and you will most likely be able to find a cheaper flight by flying into Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen. The situation you choose will just depend on your unique situation and the tentative start date of your Chinese school/employer.

Option 2A: Getting your Chinese Z work visa in your home country

If obtaining your Z visa in your home country, you will need to return to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate with the following documents:

  1. Passport with one photocopy of the information page
  2. Completed (typed then signed) visa application form
  3. One recent passport sized color photo
  4. Notification of work permit (previously received from your Chinese school/employer)
  5. Application fee (151 GBP)

Option 2B: Getting your Z visa on arrival

*NOT AVAILABLE CURRENTLY FOR SOUTH AFRICAN PASSPORT HOLDERS*

Step 3: Yay you’re legal! Arrive in China, begin teaching, and eat some rice.

 

How long does each step take? (in weeks)

  • Faster
  • Average
  • Slower

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