China has become a popular destination for expats looking for work outside their home countries. While the Chinese government has simplified the application process for a China work visa over the years, the requirements can still be complicated.
For anyone looking to work in China anytime soon, it is important to understand the process and the make-or-break factors that will determine the status of your work permit.
Types of Work Visas in China: Z Visa, M Visa & R Visa
Before you can begin the process, you need to understand which China visa you are applying for. There are 3 types of business visas you can apply for:
- Z Visa: The most common type of visa issued to foreigners who are employed in China and spend more than 6 months a year in the country.
- M Visa: Issued to business people that are not employed nor paid by a China-incorporated company and visit China for short, trade-related trips that total to less than 6 months spent in the country annually.
- R Visa: Issued to highly qualified individuals who meet the requirements for a class A visa, as well as their immediate family. However, it is has a 180-day stay limit per entry.
How To Get a China Work Visa For Foreigners?
Depending on circumstances around your travel to China, you may or may not need to apply for a work visa. But as a rule of thumb, if you're not a resident in China and employed there, you'll need a work visa.
Recently China introduced a points system for foreign experts which determines the class of visa you will be issued. Many of the criteria can win you several points, such as expected earnings in China, industry work experience, Chinese language ability, and level of education, among others. While there is no limit on the number of class A visas issued for high-level experts, the number for classes B & C, professional talent and low-skilled workers, are restricted. You’ll need a minimum of 60 and 85 points to qualify for a class B and A visa respectively.
For more information on the points system and the list of points, you can refer to this post.
Documents You Will Need
Once you’ve identified which visa you are eligible for, you'll need to provide the following documentation as proof of your suitability to work in China:
- Foreigner’s Work Permit application form;
- Job qualification certificate;
- Employment contract, employment certificate, or government authorisation letter;
- Passport, visa or valid residence permit;
- Authenticated copy of your educational certificate (or diploma) of your highest academic degree or relevant vocational qualification certificate;
- Certificate of No Criminal Conviction;
- Medical report.
Work Visa Documentation Requirements You Need to Know
While obtaining the documents needed to apply for your China work permit may seem like a straightforward process, the requirements from those documents can make it unexpectedly complicated. Here’s what you need to know about some of the documentation:
Certificate of No Criminal Conviction
Exactly what this looks like will depend on your country of origin, but either way, with the help of online research, you should be able to obtain this. There will usually be a government website where you can request documents like this, or in some instances, you may need to visit your region’s police department's website. In the USA, for example, you can obtain this information by following the procedure listed in this document or from the US Department of State.
However, you cannot provide the certificate as a part of your application. It will need to be to notarised by a public notary or solicitor first.
The Certificate of No Criminal Conviction is now an essential document, and you will not be able to apply for a work visa without it.
Notarised Educational Certificates
If you're using your level of education as proof of your eligibility to work in China, you will need to have the relevant documents notarised by a public notary or a solicitor. This includes diplomas or degrees or even TEFL or TESOL certificates if you intend to be a teacher.
'Legalisation' by the Chinese Embassy
Once you have notarised all the necessary documents, you will then need to deliver them to your local Chinese embassy for 'legalisation', along with Application Form of Consular Legalization of the Embassy/Consulate of the People’s Republic of China.
However, they cannot be sent by post, so either you or your consultant must go in person to the embassy to submit them.
For more information on the authentication process, you can check out this blog by Opportunity China.
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a China Work Visa?
The cost of applying for a work visa in China varies based on your country of origin. For example, US citizens would need to pay USD 140 for a single entry Z visa while it would cost a UK citizen GBP 151.
However, it may be easier to pay an agent a flat fee to take care of the whole process for you. Otherwise, you'd be scrambling to do several of these steps yourself, making separate payments, and delivering the final notarised documents to your local Chinese embassy (which may not be near where you live).
Getting Started With Your China Work Visa Application
The above is a general outline of the process to apply for a China work visa. It is important to understand which visa you are applying for and gather the necessary documents in a timely manner to maximise your chances of a successful application.
At Hongda, we can assist you through the entire process, and liaise with necessary parties to collect your documents and submit your application. For more information on our services, please visit our Work Permit and Resident Permit page.
Are you applying for a China work visa soon? Download out our free China Work Visa Check List now!