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Visa for China explained - Full details

The first fully extensive working visa description for processing your working visa in China. Find out what your employer really has to go through to get your working visa completed

1. General process of getting your working (Z) Employment visa for China

Obtaining a working visa in China will always follow the following steps, note some more organized employers will tell you when and where to get every of these steps completed, some steps may be done for you without you knowing. As there are a number of documents you'll need to know about during the process of obtaining residency we've supplied a full documents list here.



For your reference (Because it may seem like a wild-goose chase!) the full details of processing a working visa and residency permit for foreigners in China are listed below. Keep in mind when you arrive in China you'll need a lot of photos, so get these done at your nearest photo shop and keep them in your passport until you get your residency visa!


a.) Submit your resume, passport copy, signed contract/letter of intention of employment, TEFL and medical check to your employer. Full details about preparing these documents here.


b.) Wait a few weeks for your employer to confirm the documents are okay and you're good to make preliminary preparations to leave. You can give your letter of resignation to your current employer at this time, you can start to make preparations for the move at this stage. E.g. arranging for your belongings to be sold/stored.


c.) Wait around 3 to 4 weeks from the time of submitting the prepared documents (a.) to receiving your original invitation letter. This must be sent to you via courier in most cases a print out from e-mail is not accepted. Take note of the first english sentence on the letter starting with: Please apply forthwith for visa at the Commisioner's office of the foreign ministry of the P.R. China in Hong Kong SAR (This last part in bold is important, make sure this is the correct location of the Chinese embassy you will go to, if not, you need to inform your employer immediately and they can change it for you)


d.) After you receive your original invitation letter (And you may need your employment license copy – provided by your employer too) Go online to and select the Chinese embassy nearest you. Note, you must send your application to any Chinese embassy within the country on your invitiation letter (if you are not in your home country at the time of getting an invitiation letter you must let your employer know ahead of time the country where you are applying your Z visa - Note. If this is not your home country you must have residency in the country where you are applying for a working visa). You may also send your application to any Chinese embassy in your country if there is more than one; For example in the UK, I recently applied for a working (Z) visa from the Chinese embassy in the far north, Edinburgh when I live in the far south Bournemouth. My turn around time from sending my passport to receiving my Z visa was 5 days all-in. Sent Monday morning, received Saturday morning! 


Helpful notes: When filling out the visa application form you should select that you're applying to work in China, you only need 1 entry valid for 1 month as your Z visa will be converted to a multiple entry residency visa after you arrive. The Chinese embassy in your home country will not issue a working visa for longer than 3 months.


e.) Book your flights and fly to China


f.) Arrive in China, the first day you arrive take your passport to the nearest police station (If you're living in a Hotel, ask at the desk about getting the temporary residence document completed, they will probably do this for you in nicer hotels, ask them for the copy). Take along 2x passport photos, You will get your passport back immediately, although the document will take 1 working day to be processed. Full details here.


g.) Go for your full medical 2x more passport photos! (Your employer will let you know where, this cannot be any hospital, each city has a special department to handle this). Take your passport with you! This will take 3-4 working days before you can collect it.


h.) Give your passport to your employer + 2x more passport photos! with your temporary residence document and your new medical (in most cases your employer will collect your medical from the hospital for you). Your employer should also ask you to sign another contract (This may have slightly different details on it and may be completely in Chinese. You're safe to sign it and follow your original contract which you signed when accepting the offer (back at the beginning)– the employers only use this second contract for your working visa, so long as your originally signed contract has your employers red company stamp on it, that contract is legally binding and enforcable above the 2nd contract you sign for your visa) Your employer will then apply for your working permit. 5 working days.



i.) You will need to go with your employer to the entry-exit bureau with your employment permit, more photos (These ones need to be Visa photos with a bar code, you can get these in the entry-exit bureau in most cases). The residency visa cost for the entry-exit bureau is around 400-500RMB, Leave your passport with the entry-exit bureau and they will put a 1 year full residency visa in your passport.


j.) After 1 week (or however long on the sheet the entry-exit bureau give you) collect your passport and take your passport, work permit (The little blue/red employment book) and your current tenancy contract to the now nearest police station to where you are living and apply for the temporary residence again. Now you're fully legal foreign employee in China.

Article Author: Attilio Infante
Date: 17/04/2015 15:03
Views: 27514

Attilio Infante, the owner of Find Work Abroad, has processed over 50x working visas in Guangzhou for foreigners within the past 3 years.

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