The most complicated part of the onboarding process is obtaining work visa. You will be required to go through a process of gathering documentation and getting your qualifications ‘China ready’. The visa process can take anywhere from six weeks to three months based on your circumstances and will involve costs you will need to be ready to cover up front. Many schools provide re-imbursements for any visa related expenses but you won’t receive those before arriving in China.
Step 1: Get your documentation ready
You will receive a checklist from the school HR asking you to begin collecting documentation. The checklist will vary based on your circumstances and the city your school is located in. Here is an example of what the checklist looks like for a teacher applying to work in Beijing.
Please note: the translation of any documentation is usually arranged by the school.
Step 2: Complete the attestation process
‘Attestation’ sometimes also known as ‘Legalisation’ serves the purpose of proving that the documentation is genuine. The documentation you will typically need to attest include the highest university degree, non-criminal records check (dated within the last six months) and the marriage certificate if you have an accompanying spouse.
There are several steps you will need to complete:
Copy and notarise any documentation you wish to keep the originals for (with the exception of the non-criminal records check, you will need to give up the original).
This is done by a Notary Public or a solicitor who verifies that the signature appearing on the document is true and genuine. This is usually completed in the country where the document originates.
Get all relevant documentation legalised. A Government Official in the country your documentation was issued in has to verify any original certificates and declare the signature of the Notary Public or the solicitor as true and genuine. This process is undertaken by a Home Office, for example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, or Department of State in the USA.
Get the documentation attested. You can now bring your documents to your local Chinese embassy to get them attested for the Chinese visa purpose.
Make sure to check that the awarding institution of your document is the same as the country it is being attested in. For example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK can only legalise Degrees, TEFL Certificates and Criminal Record Checks, awarded from UK institutions.
Some employer schools will contribute towards the costs of the authentication process; if your employer details this in your employment contract, ensure you keep all receipts or invoices. Allow at least three weeks to complete the attestation process.
Step 3: School HR applies for a work permit
When the documentation is ready, you will need to scan it and send it to your Chinese employer. Their HR will apply for your work permit. As soon as you have been approved for the work permit by the local government, you will need to post the hard copies of your documentation to China. Following this you will be issued a notification letter of foreigners work permit by the provincial government.
Step 4: Apply for visa at your local Chinese embassy.
Congratulations, you have nearly made it! You can now go to the Chinese embassy and apply for your work (Z) visa. This should take around one week. Time to book your flight!