The Requirements for Teaching English in China
Whether through second-hand information or outdated and inaccurate content online, there is a considerable amount of confusion on the topic of the most updated Z-visa and work permit requirements for those seeking to find an English teaching job in China. While this information is located on our website's FAQ tab, this blog entry will thoroughly explain the details, and hopefully clear up the confusion.
Basic Requirements with Explanation:
Native English-Speaking Background-
English teaching applicants must have a native English-speaking background. The basic requirement of the Chinese government if for applicants to possess the citizenship, made evident by a passport, of an English-speaking country (i.e. the US, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.)
If applicants were born outside of an English-speaking country and then gained citizenship, then technically these individuals meet the Chinese government's English-speaking country citizenship criteria. However, some employers will take exception to this, and such an applicant may have fewer options in China. To be clear, immigrant applicants with the citizenship of an English-speaking country will be able to find work, but they ought not to expect as many options as their native- speaking counterparts.
This does not apply to green card holders emigrating from non-English speaking countries. The Chinese government will not grant them Z-visa for English teaching.
Passport of an English-Speaking Country-
All applicants must have a passport valid for at least six-months after the date of their application.
4-Year College or University Degree-
The Chinese government requires all teachers in China to have obtained at least a 4-year degree from a university or a 4-year college, and often those who look over applicants' documents will not accept a degree diploma if the institution is not located in Western Europe or an English-speaking country (i.e. the US, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.)
As an aside, while the major and GPA earned are not important for the purposes of obtaining a visa and work permit, certain majors like: English, writing, Asian studies, etc. are more attractive to many of our partner schools in China, and this is surely the case industry-wide. The ranking of your university of college as well as your cumulative GPA can also be relevant factors in securing a teaching position within a school or training institute that selects its staff with a narrow standard.
Work Experience or Teaching Certification-
In order to obtain the Z-visa and working permit applicants are required to have worked for at least two years after graduation (e.g. if graduation date was April of 2015, then one can apply without additional certification now in April of 2017.)
If applicants are more recent college graduates, then they must complete the Teaching English as a Foreign Language CertificationTEFL). The coursework must be completed in class, not online, and the total class must equal or exceed 120- hours. The following are a few institutions offering TEFL certification with which Opportunity in China has rapport, and can thus vouch for their ability to provide solid training and a valid TEFL certification. We are currently seeking to validate more TEFL training centers for the purpose of providing our teachers with more trustworthy options: North America&London
It is advisable to earn a TEFL certification even if you have two years working experience. The $1000-1500 investment will most likely be returned in the form of increased salary, and there is the added benefit that some employers require it; therefore, having a TEFL will give you more options and increase your earning potential. Another consideration is, as only a few years back the Chinese government did not require TEFL, and now they do for those recent graduates without experience, we can only conjecture as to whether or not and when they might require all teachers to have the certification.
TEFL certification can be substituted by TEOSL and CELTA certifications.
All individuals receiving a Z-visa, regardless of their occupation, must visit a health clinic in their home country or any able to provide the service then fill out the Foreigner Physical Examination Form.
Click the hyperlink above, then read the form to understand more about the health requirements. The process will be smoother if you submit this form and not a substitute when applying for the Z-visa.
Clear Criminal Background Check-
Visit the local county courthouse where you, visit the local state or provincial website, or the federal websites to acquire the criminal background check(CBC). At the current date, all variety of CBC documents provided by your local government at any level satisfy the CBC requirement.
While there is no clear reference online as those the type of criminal background screened, it seems based on the experience of our company and our partners that those with felonies may not be accepted, while those with minor misdemeanors should be clear. This may seem arbitrary, but the Chinese government is a black box on this issue, and we can only assume its parameters.
Two Letters of Recommendation-
Two letters of recommendation are to be addressed to the applicant's employer. The format and source(i.e. business, professional, academic, or personal) are not specific in the requirements. Two letters with adequate contact information will suffice.
One Year Commitment-
Most of the partner schools of Opportunity in China require that teachers agree to work in China for at least one year. With the new visa restrictions, this is becoming an industry standard.
Words of Advice:
The staff at Opportunity in China does not advise that foreign teachers attempt to skirt this system. Sure, one can acquire a travel visa and teach illegally in China. It happens regularly. However, there are definite downsides to this strategy, as well as potentially harsh ramifications if the teacher is caught in violation of Chinese law.
Best Case Scenario for Foreign Teachers Violating the Labor Laws of China -
Recently in an effort to discourage law-breakers-, the Chinese government limited the duration of stay for multiple-entry tourist(L) and business(F& M)visas from three months to two months. This increases the costs and likelihood of entry-denial for foreigners.
For example, some foreign teachers on an L-visa would prefer to work for three months, leave to Hong Kong for a week, return to China, then repeat the cycle. The new duration restriction makes travel expenses greater, discouraging the teacher, and it disrupts the school's class schedule more frequently, discouraging the school from hiring teachers illegally. Additionally, customs and immigration is now stricter when they see frequent multiple entries on a foreigner's passport, suggesting that they are likely working illegally
Essentially, best case scenario for the foreign teacher attempting to work without a Z-visa is increased travel expenses, decreased time at work, all coupled with a high- likelihood of being stoped at the airport when attempting re-entry into China and then sent back until a new visa is acquired, or until the individual has spent more time in their home county(not Hong Kong, or any other near-by East Asian country) before returning to China.
Worst Case Scenario for Foreign Teachers Violating the Labor Laws of China-
A foreigner attempting to work in China illegally, if caught, could be sent back to their home country and possibly denied re-entry indefinitely. Essentially, such a law- breaker could be barred from ever being in China again. Regardless of one's principal and opinions on personal liberty and the right to work, we all must grapple with reality.
Hopefully, this blog article was helpful If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to this author or to a member or our staff by phone or email.