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Top 10 Q&As About China Work Visa: A Guide for Your Application

by Angel Ho | 07 June 2024


Explore this insightful guide that answers the 10 most frequently asked questions about obtaining a Chinese work visa. With over 17 years of experience, Hongda will expert advice to help our foreign clients understand the process and apply for their visas smoothly and successfully.


Navigating the complexities of obtaining a work visa in China can often be troublesome, especially for foreign nationals eager to explore professional opportunities or start doing their own business in China. At Hongda, we frequently encounter clients seeking to understand the intricacies of obtaining their visa, with the questions about the process, materials, period, costs related to the working visa application. To provide comprehensive support, we've compiled a guide that answers the 10 most commonly asked questions by those aspiring to work in China.

In this article, Hongda will cover essential topics ranging from eligibility criteria and application procedures to post-arrival compliance and renewal requirements. Our aim is to equip you with the clarity needed to make informed decisions and successfully secure your Chinese work visa. Whether you're new to the process or looking to refine your understanding, this guide will help streamline your journey to working in China.

Let's dive into the 10 questions you need to know to confidently approach your application!


Forengner's work permit


Question 1 : I currently hold a Chinese business visa (M visa). Can I work in China without applying for a work visa?

If you are currently having a Chinese M visa, you can engage in a variety of short-term business including technical exchanges, business visits, market research, exhibition and conference attendance, and business discussions. Formal employment, however, is not included in the list of activities above. Consequently, it is illegal to work for pay in China, even if you have a M visa. To pursue employment opportunities in China, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, you must apply for the Z visa.


Question 2: What documents are required for a work visa application, and do they need to be translated into Chinese? Where can these documents be obtained?

The documents required for a work visa in China may vary depending on the condition of your application. Generally speaking, you will need to prepare the following materials for your application to be approved before you enter China:

  • Education Certificate: Proof of your highest educational qualification. This may include a diploma or degree, translated into Chinese if the original document is not written in Chinese.
  • Non-Criminal Record: An official document verifying that you do not have a criminal record. This record, obtained from relevant authorities in your home country or place of residence where you have lived for over a year recently, must be translated into Chinese.
  • Work Experience Confirmation Letter(s): The letters from your former employer(s) confirming your work experience relevant to your intended position in China, covering at least two years of former experience. This letter also needs to be translated into Chinese.
  • Health Certificate: A certificate issued by a recognized medical institution recognized by Chinese embassy or consulates, confirming that you are in good health. Make sure it's translated into Chinese.

After entering China, you may also need to provide some information and documents for the work permit card and residence permit application:

  • Temporary Resident Form: A document verifying your temporary address in China. This could be a lease agreement or hotel booking, depending on your situation, and you can normally obtain this document from the hotel when you check in or the police station in charge of your neighbor. 


Question 3: How long does it typically take to receive a visa after the application is submitted?

As mentioned in response to the first question, the entire process, including applying for the Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit, applying for the visa, and handling the work permit card and residence permit upon your entry, typically takes about 6-8 weeks. This timeline starts from when Hongda submits your application for the Notification Letter to when you complete your residence permit. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you consider this timeframe when finalizing your employment contract and preparing for your job start date. Additionally, many application materials, such as obtaining and authenticating criminal records, may require an additional 1-2 weeks or more, so don’t forget to account for this time as well!


Question 4: Are there any requirements for recommendation letters? Is there a content template for this?

For recommendation letters, or what are known as employment experience proofs, there is no uniform template or format required. However, the contents must include: the position you held, the duration of your employment or projects you have worked on, and must be stamped with the company seal by the previous employer or signed by the person in charge. It must also include valid contact information (telephone number or email) of a reference who can verify the details. For applicants to positions requiring more than two years of work experience, if a single recommendation letter does not cover a full two years, you will need to provide multiple letters to ensure that the combined duration exceeds two years.


Question 5: Do the documents required for a work visa application need to be in the form of original, copies, or electronic versions?

For applicants classifies in type-B talents, both E-files and original copies of most documents (except your passport) are needed as there is a compulsory offline inspection process to verify the hard copies of your materials. And for most type-A talents, only E-profiles are needed. You are welcome to book a free meeting with us to know more about the classification of foreign talents.


Question 6: Is it possible to apply for a work visa without a bachelor's degree?

Whether a bachelor's degree or higher is required to apply for a work visa depends on the category under which you intend to apply. For most type-B talents, a bachelor's degree and at least two years of work experience are mandatory requirements. You need to demonstrate that you possess the skills and experience necessary for the position you will hold. However, for type-A talents, you only need to prove that you meet the criteria specified in the "Standards for the Classification of Foreigners Working in China".


Question 7: Do educational qualifications and criminal records need to be notarized by an embassy, and is a personal visit necessary for this process?

Yes. Your educational qualification certificates (such as your diploma) and criminal record checks need to be notarized. As of November 7, 2023, China joined the Hague Convention. If your diploma and criminal record are issued by a country that is a member of this convention, you can opt for an Apostille certification instead of the traditional authentication by a Chinese embassy or consulate. You can learn more by clicking here. If the documents are not issued by a convention member country, or are from a country or region specified as not applicable under the additional protocols to the Hague Convention in China, then you will still need to go through consular authentication. Whether you need to be physically present at a designated office to notarize the above documents may vary depending on the notary office or Chinese diplomatic mission in your location, so please contact them to obtain the most accurate information.


Question 8: Do I need to authenticate my highest educational certificate obtained in Mainland China?

If your highest educational certificate was obtained in Mainland China, you generally do not need to have it notarized or authenticated by a Chinese embassy or consulate, nor do you need to undergo Apostille certification. However, in some cities, such as Shenzhen, you might be required to obtain an online authentication report from the Center for Student Services and Development, Ministry of Education (https://www.chsi.com.cn/en/). Please contact Hongda in advance for more information about whether this authentication is necessary for your specific case.


Question 9: Can foreigners remit income earned in China to overseas countries?

Yes, of course. You can remit your incomes earned in China to your home country, but due to China's foreign exchange control policy, you may face some restrictions while doing so. For natural person residents in China, each person has a foreign exchange purchase quota of USD 50,000 per year, which means that you can freely exchange foreign currency up to this limit and remit it to your other overseas accounts.

If the foreign exchange you wish to remit exceeds the USD 50,000 limit, you will need to provide additional supporting documents and explain the purpose of the remittance, and submit these to the bank for approval. If you have already obtained a Chinese work visa, you can go through the tax department where your company is located and obtain an income tax payment certificate to prove that your income is legally earned and that taxes have been paid in accordance with Chinese law.


Question 10: What is the maximum duration of validity for my visa? Is it possible for me to apply for a visa that would last longer than a year?

A work visa's validity time is determined by a number of factors, including the length of your contract and your managerial rank. Your initial application within China will normally result in a work visa with a validity duration of at least one year, if your contract is longer than a year. The Chinese government may grant visas with a validity length of two years, three years, or even up to a maximum of five years to applicants who have had numerous renewals. 




After reading the top 10 questions about Chinese work visa application and armed with the right information, Hongda believers that you can approach it with confidence. We hope this guide has addressed some of the most common questions and provided clarity on the essential requirements and procedures. Remember, successful visa applications rely on accurate, complete documentation and understanding the legal and regulatory framework. Whether you're a first-time applicant or a seasoned expat who has been working in China for many years, staying informed and prepared is key to a smooth experience. For further assistance or specific inquiries, always consider seeking professional guidance to enhance your chances of a successful application. At Hongda, we are committed to supporting you every step of the way in your journey to working in China.


Hongda consultation

Topics: Doing Business in China

Angel Ho

Angel Ho

Helping make China companies easy for foreign investors since 2007 as lead consult.



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