The “So You Want To Get A Chinese Working Visa” ultimate guide – November 2016 new regulations

If you are reading this article you probably want to get a job in China, or already got one. Congratulations! I’m sure you tried hard and you are the best candidate for the position you applied for.

My dear friend, I am here for you. I guarantee you will need some help very soon – precisely, as soon as you will start your visa process. I went through that, too. I know how it feels and that’s why I am here for you – to prevent you from swearing, giving up and avoid a diplomatic incident.


1) FOREWORD: Which visa do I need?

Let’s get to the point: you need a Z visa to work in China, even if you don’t work for a chinese company. Working on any other kind of visa, M (business) included, is illegal. Getting caught, going through a interrogatory, being expelled and not being allowed to enter China for 1 to 10 years is not nice, is it? The choice is yours.

Asking the company to provide a Z visa is also a good way to test it – only few companies are allowed to employ foreigners, and that’s why there are so many employers who won’t provide a Z visa: they can’t get you a Work Permit. You also shouldn’t trust who claims to provide an M, F or any other kind of visa before you get to China, and then help you get a Z visa when you’ll be there. I hear that it is possible to undergo such process, but who guarantees they will really provide a working visa once you’ll get there? If you don’t speak Chinese pay even more attention: you don’t want to discover your company provided you a fake Z visa during an interrogatory at the police station.

If you want to work in China don’t lose heart, companies that sponsor Z visas in the right way do exist, you only have to find them.


2) Are there any requirements to get the Z visa?

Yes, and they are pretty restrictive.

According to the new immigration rules that entered into force in November 2016, every foreign worker is given a score based on these parameters:

  • salary he/she will be given in China;
  • highest university degree obtained (it is not possible to get a Z visa without holding a degree);
  • duration of previous work experience;
  • number of working months in a year;
  • Mandarin Chinese level (based on HSK certification);
  • work location;
  • age;
  • ranking of your university;
  • your previous employers.

According to your score you will be “marked” as A, B or C foreign worker – if you are a C-category foreigner you can’t get a Z visa, unless your company applies to add you some points that will turn you in a B-category foreigner.


3) How do I apply for a Z visa?

Applying for a Z visa requires these documents:

  • your passport;
  • a couple of passport photos;
  • a form (you’ll find it on your embassy website);
  • your flight ticket booking (I’m not really sure, I didn’t find clear information about that);
  • your Work Permit;
  • Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit, or Confirmation Letter of Invitation, or Letter of Invitation, and other documents according to your position (your company will provide the ones you need).

You just have to bring these documents to a chinese embassy or consulate in your home country and some days later you’ll be given back your passport with your longed-for visa attached on a page.

Simple, isn’t it?

You wish.


4) On the Work Permit

The Work Permit is simply a black, small booklet to certify that you are allowed to work in China. It is the most important document to obtain the Z visa, and you are going to hate it during the whole process. I used to wish to get the permit only to have the immense pleasure to burn it – a silly thing to do, since you can’t work in China if you don’t hold it.


5) How do I get a Work Permit? – based on 2016 new immigration laws –

This is the main point of this article, the reason why you will be eternally grateful to me. I remember me asking my chinese company, the consulate and the Internet what to do to get the Permit and being given three different answers, none of which was the right one.

What I actually required to get the Work Permit was:

  • my CV;
  • a paper signed and stamped by my previous work bosses to prove I had two years of work experience;
  • medical check form (you can find it here: signed and stamped by my doctor, which also involved a HIV and syphilis test, ECG and chest X-ray – going to a hospital affiliated with chinese government is supposed to be the right thing to do, so go there if you can;
  • criminal report and its signature legalization, both legalized by the chinese consulate (original and in translation);
  • graduation certificate and its signature legalization, both legalized by the chinese consulate (original plus in translation legalized by district of attorney’s office);
  • a signed contract.

Pay attention that the documents, especially the work experience-related ones, are coherent. Chinese visas require nothing less than perfection.

Be aware the information about your work experience are not going to be checked more than that. A word is enough for the wise.

When you finally get all these documents (it took me a month and a half and lots, lots of money and trips to district of attorney’s office, my university and the consulate), just email (or, most likely, use WeChat to send the pictures) them to your company. They will apply for your Work Permit. If everything’s ok, it will be given to your company in more or less two weeks.


6) Applying for the visa

After receveing the original Work Permit, Letter of Invitation and any other documents you need, bring all your paperwork to the CVASC (Chinese Visa Application Service Center) to submit your application – in some days you will be given your Z visa.


Now you can breathe. It was harder than getting the job, but you made it. Just relax on your sofa for a couple of days, because you will have to convert your visa into a Residence Permit as soon as you get to China… But the worst is over. Just breathe.


Featured image: Thanks to Max Braun.


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