Chinese work visa, or Z visa, is now becoming more and more in demand among those traveling to China.
It’s quite logical since this country offers foreigners a lot of good workplaces, especially the ones connected with teaching.
If you’re from the United Kingdom and thinking about getting an ESL teaching job in China, this article is for you.
Here, we’ll discuss the main information you need to know about getting a China visa for UK citizens.
You’ll also find some information about other types of visas you can obtain when going to China.
So, is it easy to get a Chinese work visa for the UK?
Well, let’s have a look.
Can I legally work in China with a tourist, business or student visa?
Although there is a special visa that allows you to carry out work activities in China, some employers and companies are ready to cooperate with foreigners who come to the country via other visa types.
For example, a business visa is the one that allows you to work in China for a period of three months.
Anyway, if you’re planning to work in China for a long period of time, it’s better to apply for a Z visa.
China Work Visa Requirements & Documents
No matter what type of Chinese visa you’re going to obtain – tourism, work, or study – you need to meet the same requirements and hand in the same papers to the Chinese consulate.
- Passport with at least 6-month validity and two blank visa pages
- Black-and-white passport photocopy (with photo). If you’ve had some Chinese visas before, you need to submit the photocopy of this passport page, too.
- Recent colorful passport photo of 48mm x 33mm size
- Those who have already had Chinese citizenship need to provide photocopies of Chinese passports
- If you’re applying for China work visa outside your country of citizenship, you have to submit legal status proof, e.g. resident permit
- The application form that you can download from the Internet or take in the Visa Center of your country.
However, if you’re going to obtain a Z visa, you have to prepare some more documents, which are the following:
- Work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China and sent to you by your employer.
- An invitation letter from your employer.
- Those applying for a visa via the CVASC site will also be required the declaration and the photocopy of the appointment receipt.
- A medical form and a criminal history record are necessary documents to have at hand if you go to work in China. They’re always required for teaching and healthcare job positions.
How long does it take to get a Chinese Visa?
As a rule, the process of obtaining a visa takes four business days.
However, it’s possible to get it faster. You can get your visa within three (or even one) working days but you’ll have to pay an extra fee for this service.
How much does a Chinese Work Visa cost?
The price of obtaining a Chinese visa varies depending on your country and nationality.
So, how much does a Chinese visa cost from the UK?
If you apply for a visa in the United Kingdom, it will cost you 151 pounds sterling.
However, you might pay more if you want some of your documents or visa itself be ready faster than usual.
How long is the duration of stay of a Chinese Z visa?
Z visa, also known as a work visa, is valid for 30 days. Some of you might wonder if it means you can work in China for only one month. The answer is no.
The thing is that the working visa is like a one-way ticket and you only need it to enter China.
It becomes valid on the day you cross the Chinese border.
When you come to China, you’ll have to get another official permission – Chinese temporary residence permit.
This very permit allows you to stay in China for as long as you need.
It’s possible to get a temporary residence permit that lasts from 90 days to 5 years.
When should I apply for a Chinese visa?
Although it usually takes four working days to get your employment visa ready, it’s better to apply for it earlier.
In visa centers, it’s recommended to start the process of obtaining your visa one month before the actual date of your arrival to China.
In case something goes wrong, you’ll have some time to fix the things.
Where can I get a working permit for China?
A working permit is a document without which you won’t get a working visa.
That’s why it’s important to obtain it before applying for a Z visa.
Actually, getting a working permit is your employer’s task.
Still, you’ll need to send him/her a pack of documents required for obtaining the permit.
Before submitting the abovementioned documents, you need to go through the process of legalizing them in the Chinese embassy.
We’ve come up with useful tips and a step-by-step process on how to go through documents legalization for Work Z Visa when it comes to different policies with certain countries. Check the guide by this link:
Once your employer gets these documents, he/she applies for a work permit at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China.
Please, keep in mind that work permit processing for China takes 2-3 weeks.
What is the age limit for the Z visa application?
If you are thinking about working in China, you should meet the 18-60 age limit requirement.
If you’re younger than 18 or older than 60 but still want to work in this country, you’ll need to make some efforts to find an employer who agrees to hire you.
Anyway, where’s the will, there’s a way.
What are the different types of Chinese Visas (and the additional requirements for getting them)?
There are twelve types of visas you want to choose among when you go to China.
Depending on the purpose of your visit to China, you should not only choose one certain type but also take into account requirements for getting each of them.
Crew member (C)
Description: If you work on an international aircraft, train, ship, or work as a driver in a company that provides international transportation services, you need this visa type.
C category visa is also issued to the family members who travel with crew staff.
Additional requirements: You need either an invitation letter or a letter of guarantee provided by the international company you work for.
Permanent residence (D)
The visa is given to people who want to live in China on a permanent basis.
To get this visa, you also need to address to the Ministry of Public Security of China to get the Confirmation Form for Foreigners Permanent Residence Status.
Once you do it, you have to submit the original and photocopy of this document together with other documents.
Exchange, visits, study tours or other relevant activities (F)
Whether you go to China for the purpose of academic, cultural, or religious exchange, volunteering, or similar activity, F visa is what you need.
You should have an invitation letter.
A transit visa is given to people who travel through China when the country isn’t their final destination.
However, you might not even need a G visa in case transit takes place in specific Chinese cities and lasts no longer than 72 or 144 hours.
If you do need to get a transit visa, be ready to have an onboard ticket to your final destination close at hand.
If you work in a foreign news company and are going on a business trip (for a long or short period of time), you’ll need a J visa.
There are two types:
- J1 visa for a long-term stay
- J2 visa for a short-term stay
Be sure you have an official letter from the media company you work for.
Plus, it’s necessary to get a Visa Notification Letter in the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
No need to mention, this visa is given to people who go to China as tourists, either alone or with a group of people.
In order not to allow people from other countries to stay in China illegally, Chinese visa rules require that you have the following documents:
- Return plane ticket with dates and surnames (copy)
- Chinese hotel booking with dates and surnames (copy)
- An invitation letter if you stay at your friend’s home
- Sometimes, you’ll need bank documents that confirm your financial background
Commercial trade (M)
This visa is given to those who go to China in order to carry out some commercial activities.
You should have an invitation letter from the trading company you’re cooperating with.
A family member or relative of Chinese citizens (Q)
This visa is issued to relatives of Chinese citizens (or foreigners who have permanent resident status) in case they have some family matters. They can be a reunion or foster care.
There are two types:
- Q1 visa for a long-term stay
- Q2 visa for a short-term stay
If you’re going to stay with your relatives in China for less than 180 days, you need to have an invitation letter with you.
Those who plan to stay longer than 180 days will be required to submit more documents.
Depending on the purpose of the visit, you might need to show marriage, birth, or kinship certificate as well as many more.
The list of documents is large, so it’s better for you to address the Chinese Consular Office in your country and ask which papers you need in your situation.
Foreigner of high talent or specialist (R)
R visa is given to people who can benefit China. They might be scientists, politicians, or other genius people who can have a positive influence on China’s development.
As ‘talent’ is quite a vague notion, people might be asked to have very different documents with them. But in general, these are certifications that prove their skills.
Personal matters (S)
This type of visa is similar to the type Q. You might need this very visa if you need to visit relatives or friends. If you have some medical care issues in China, you’ll also have to obtain this visa.
There are two types:
- S1 visa for a long-term stay
- S2 visa for a short-term stay
The same as for the type Q visa.
The purpose of obtaining this visa is quite obvious. Students planning to continue their education in China need an X visa.
There are two types:
- X1 visa for a long-term stay
- X2 visa for a short-term stay
If you need to stay in China longer than 180 days, you’ll need to submit a special document from the Chinese Ministry of Education – so-called JW201 (or JW202) form. You might also be required to have a medical certificate.
This is the visa you need to obtain if you want to work in China legally.
In addition to all the basic documents, you need to have an invitation (or confirmation) letter from the company you will work for.
Foreigner’s work permit is one more crucial document to have with you.
What is the difference between a Chinese tourist and business visa?
As you might have noticed, even the names of these visas are different, let alone the purposes.
A tourist visa is the one that gives you a chance to travel to China.
It means that you go to the country in order to have rest, go sightseeing, try local cuisine, go on excursions, and so on.
To put in a nutshell, with an L visa you can have a holiday in China.
A business visa shouldn’t be confused with the work one.
Business (or commercial visa, M type) allows you to be involved in commercial activity in China.
It also has different requirements for its obtaining and using in comparison with the Z visa.
It’s possible to work with an M visa in China but only on condition, your working activity doesn’t exceed a 3-month period.
Which visa applies to accompany family members of Z visa applicants?
If you go to China in order to work and are expecting some relatives to come and see you, they need to apply for an S visa.
This visa type is given to people who have personal matters in China.
To get an S visa, your relative must have all necessary documents plus an invitation letter from you.
Don’t forget about some certificate (marriage or birth) that proves your relationship.
Is it possible to apply for a Chinese work visa online?
The process of obtaining Chinese visas is becoming simpler nowadays.
Chinese visa application from the UK isn’t an exception.
However, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do all the necessary procedures online.
The full process of applying for a Chinese Z visa step by step
Applying for a Chinese visa from the UK is a relatively simple process in comparison to the one of gathering documents you need to get the visa.
So, what do you need to do before going to the Chinese Visa Center in London, Manchester, Belfast, or Edinburg?
- Request for a criminal check at Disclosure and Barring Service. You’re required to have this document if you apply for teaching or healthcare positions.
- Notarize the documents that prove your qualifications – Degree certificate and TEFL (if it’s required by your employer).
- Get a Letter of Attestation from a notary.
- Certify your DBS criminal check at the issuing authority. If it’s impossible, address a notary to legalize it.
- Send all the abovementioned documents to the FCO to get apostilles.
- Once the documents are returned, you must go to the Chinese embassy to legalize them.
- When the embassy sends all your papers back, you need to forward their copies to the organization that employs you. It will request a work permit at a special issuing authority as well as prepare an invitation letter for you. An employer sends all these papers back to you once they’re ready.
- Now you can take all the documents you have and head for the Visa Center. In the UK, you can apply for a visa in person in London, Manchester, or Edinburg offices. You will find contact details at the end of this post.
What Visas must be converted into a Resident Permit once I enter China and how to do so?
If you go to China with D, J1, Q1, S1, X1, or Z visa, you’ll have to convert it into a resident permit during 30 days after your arrival to China.
To do it, you have to address the Public Security Bureau (PSB) Exit and Entry Administration in your area.
There, you’ll submit documents such as passport, the accommodation registration form (you get this at a local police station within 24 hours after your arrival to China), results of medical examination you take on your arrival, and employment papers.
As a rule, your residence permit application is being processed for 14 days.
If you have a teaching job in China, your school usually helps you with getting the permit.
Can I extend/change my Visa once I enter China?
You have the right to extend as well as change your visa when you’re in China.
If you need to do this, you have to address the Public Security Bureau Entry and Exit Administration Office at least seven days before your current working visa expiration date.
But keep in mind that your request can be rejected. Everything depends on your situation.
What happens if I overstay my Visa?
Before answering this question, let’s make something clear.
You don’t want to overstay your visa since it results in penalties.
As for penalties, they vary depending on how long you overstay your visa.
Those staying longer for a short period of time, let’s say, for 5-10 days, will get a warning and a fine of 500 RMB a day.
People who overstay their visas, for example, for a month will get into more trouble.
By this, we mean they can be sent to detention camps, repatriated, and prohibited to enter China.
With that said, it’s important to know your visa expiration date and make sure you don’t overstay it.
Why does my Chinese work visa application get rejected?
The Chinese government, just like any other government in the world, reserves the right to reject any type of visa without explanation.
However, there are several main reasons why your visa can be refused.
- Visa application form is one of the main documents that ensure obtaining the visa. If you make mistakes while filling it in, be ready for rejection.
- Inappropriate passport photos. Make sure you understand every requirement about the photo since even the wrong photo paper can be the reason for the refusal.
- Lack of documents. Before you go to the Visa Center, check the list of all necessary papers you have to hand in. If something is missed, you won’t obtain your visa.
- People who have ever committed a serious crime will likely be denied their visas.
- People who come from countries where wars and terrorist attacks are frequent occurrences have fewer chances to get to China than citizens from other countries.
- If a person has already overstayed his/her visa in China or another country, it is also a reason for visa rejection.
- Most likely than not, health issues like serious diseases (AIDS or Hepatitis B) will prevent you from getting long-term visas (work or student ones).
- Representatives of religious, military, and media industries tend to get their visas rejected more often than other applicants.
Make sure all of your documents meet visa application requirements in order to avoid visa rejection.
Contacts of Chinese embassies in the UK
There are three cities where Chinese embassies are located – London, Manchester, and Edinburg.
Address: 12 Old Jewry, London, EC2R 8DU
Phone: 44(0)207776 7888
Address: Ground Floor, 71 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3HR
Address: 2nd Floor, Exchange Tower,19 Canning Street, City of Edinburgh, EH3 8EG
Note that all the offices work from Monday to Friday.
However, application submission, payment, and collection hours might vary. So, contacting offices for more information in advance is a sensible decision.
Leave us a comment if you have any questions about the visa process in the UK and we will gladly help you out.