Permits and Visas for Work in China
Page updated as of February 2020.
As of July 2017, a clear criminal background check and documents authenticated by the Chinese Embassy must be provided to apply for a work permit in the People's Republic of China. Here's a guide to get you through this process so you can start your new teaching job in China sooner rather than later!
*New rule as of November 2018* - The background check that you get must have a signature from the issuing agency on it.
Step 1: Get your background check for China
You can obtain a background check report from a local, state, or national organization (FBI). Local and state police stations often have a turnaround time in as little as 1 day or as many as 5 business days. The turnaround time for ordering a background check from the FBI is around 2 weeks.
If you get a local or state-level background check on your own, be sure that the police station notarizes it at the time that it is run.
An FBI check is not always required, but if your employer does require it, here's some information about how to obtain an FBI background check. If you reside overseas or need to expedite your FBI background check, we suggest using this channeler service.
Teaching Nomad also offers a state-level background check that's accepted everywhere in China (aside from the places that specify that they want an FBI check), as well as full authentication services for it! This background check can be completed in just a few days, and it's easy to bundle authentication of it with your degree, TEFL, or letter of reference authentication. Click here to check out prices and order your background check.
Step 2: Get your documents authenticated
This usually means 3 documents:
- University degree
- Your background check
- A document that qualifies you to be a teacher; this will vary so you should supply what your employer is asking for. Usually, it's either a teaching license, TEFL Certificate (120 HOURS+) or a reference letter for 2+ years classroom teaching experience.
*If you do this process on your own, please note that you must get your documents authenticated in the country that issued them."
The process typically takes 3-4 weeks. This timeframe can be shorter or longer depending on whether you're getting your original documents authenticated or if you're authenticating copies of your documents.
Getting your documents authenticated is a multi-step process, so read carefully:
In the U.S., there are 3 - 5 steps for getting your documents authenticated depending on which state you're in.
1. Have your document notarized by a local notary. You might be able to get a certified copy authenticated, or you may have to get the original document authenticated, depending on the city/province that you'll be teaching in.
- If your school says certified copies are okay, we will create and notarize them for you.
- If your school says that the originals must be authenticated, then you'll need to get the registrar to write a statement on the diploma verifying that the diploma is yours, and an on-campus notary will notarize the registrar's signature on the spot.
2. *New step as of October 2018* - This step is only relevant if you're in Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, and Tennessee. Documents notarized in these states must be authenticated at the county level after they're notarized. County authentication can be obtained from a circuit clerk, circuit court, county clerk, probate judge, or a superior court clerk.
3. Get your documents certified by your local Secretary of State's office. All documents must be certified by the Secretary of State’s office in the state where the document was notarized. They will verify the notarization received in step 1 and put a seal on the notarized document.
4. This step is only relevant if you're in Washington DC, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Documents issued in these states must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State after they're certified by your local Secretary of State’s office.
5. Get your documents authenticated by the proper Chinese consulate (your documents must be delivered to the consulate in person - no exceptions). After they're authenticated by the Secretary of State’s office and/or the U.S. Department of State, your documents can be authenticated by the Chinese consulate that holds consular jurisdiction over the state where the document was certified.
*Any estimated prices listed here are quotes that we've received in the past, and we cannot guarantee that these are the prices you'll pay*
Step 3: Work Permit
Now that your documents are authenticated, send scans of these documents to your employer. They will apply for your work permit which will likely take somewhere between 5-20 business days. It's important to tell them which Chinese consulate you will use to apply for your work visa, as YOU CANNOT CHANGE THIS LATER. So if you plan to use an agent, you may want to consult them at this point.
Step 4: Work Visa
Once approved, your employer will email your work permit approval to you which you can take to the consulate or to the visa agent assisting you.
If you're having difficulties with this process, be sure to contact your Teaching Nomad placement consultant, we're here to help!
If you decide to place an order for document authentication through us, Teaching Nomad will complete the entire document authentication process for you. After this, you'll be well on your way to teaching in China!