Obtaining China’s New Unified Foreign Work Permit

Posted by Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Ari Chernoff

On November 1, 2016, China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) launched the new unified work permit in select regions across the country. The limited release targets the regions of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong, Sichuan, and Ningxia, as the government seeks to gauge the program’s success before the nationwide rollout on April 1, 2017.

China’s previous foreign work permits, the Alien Employment Permit (Z-visa) and the Foreign Expert Permit (R-visa), have been integrated into the Permit System for Foreigners in China, a single work permit based on a three-tiered classification system. The permit provides a federal model administered by SAFEA, eliminating the often troublesome and inconsistent regionally administered policies.

The three-tiered system classifies foreign workers as A, B, or C level candidates. The classification system takes into account candidates’ education, salary level, age, time spent working in China, and Chinese language skills. Applicants who receive more than 85 points are given the letter “A,” 60 to 85 points, “B,” and less than 60 points, “C.” For more information on the system’s criteria for assigning point values, visit our China Work Permit Calculator.

Application requirements

The Chinese government deems that all applicants should meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be in good health
  • Have no criminal record
  • Have a commitment from a legal employer
  • Have the professional skills necessary to do the work, or a corresponding degree

Application procedure

The following steps outline the application process and the required documents for foreign workers and their employers under the new work permit.

Step 1: Apply online

The first step in the application process is completed by the employer in China. An employer looking to hire a non-Chinese employee can submit an application, along with the relevant documents online on the management system for foreign workers in China (only in Chinese).” The required documents for submission are as follows:

  • Application form
  • Business license and organization code certificate
  • Social insurance registration or certificate of registration of the resident representative office of foreign enterprise
  • Information such as the name, ID, and phone number of the foreign worker
  • Power of Attorney
  • Identity of the employer or manager

Professional Service_CB icons_2015RELATED: Payroll and Human Resource Services

Step 2: Online pre-qualification

Within five working days of the online submission, the receiving agency will make an examination of the materials submitted by the employer. If the foreign worker is coming from abroad, they should apply for the “Work Permit for Aliens of the People’s Republic of China” (Often referred to simply as the “Work Permit for Foreigners in China”) no later than 15 days after entry. If the materials submitted by the employer contain errors or are incomplete, the receiving agency will offer the employer one chance to correct the relevant materials.

Step 3: Verification of the employer’s application

If the employer’s application meets the requirements, a special seal will be issued by the administrative organ, including its signature and the date when the employer’s application was verified.

Step 4: Review

After the employer’s application has been verified, the decision-making body will review the materials and make a decision within 10 working days to accept or decline the employer’s request to hire a foreign worker. If the agency decides to accept the employer’s application, then the employee can formally apply for the “Work Permit for Aliens of the People’s Republic of China.” The following documentation is required for the application:

  • “Work Permit for Aliens of the People’s Republic of China” application form
  • Proof of previous work experience
  • Certificates of highest level of education
  • Official proof of no criminal record from country of permanent residence
  • Medical certificate
  • Employment contract or other proof of employment
  • Passport or other travel document
  • A photo from the last six months in which the applicant is bareheaded

Step 5: Final decision

If the applicant meets the conditions for the work permit, the agency will grant the administrative license, create an electronic “Notice on Work Permit for Aliens,” and offer the applicant the Foreign Work Permit within 10 days of their final decision.

If an applicant is not accepted, they can apply for reconsideration, or bring an administrative lawsuit against the licensing authority.


With the new work permit ready to rollout nationwide on April 1, 2017, interested parties would do well to track the relevant regulations and circulars as they are promulgated by the Chinese government in case of any alterations.

As seen above, much of the application requirements for foreign workers are completed by their potential employer. Only when the employer’s submission has been examined, verified, reviewed, and accepted, can a foreign worker officially apply for the “Work Permit for Aliens of the People’s Republic of China.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on May 17, 2012, and has been updated to include the latest regulatory changes.


Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email china@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

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182 thoughts on “Obtaining China’s New Unified Foreign Work Permit

    Snyder Rivera says:

    What if you are alreday have a F Visa, is the process the same for a work permit if a Chinese enterprise offers me a postion within their organization as part of their technical management staff? Do I still have to go back to USA and apply thru China Consulate in USA? Would it be easier if I keep my F visa status and negotiate a consulting contract instead?

    Please provide a direct reply to my e-mail at iso9000rv@aol.com.

    Kind regards,

    @Synder – reply sent.

    Oliver Meili says:

    Just one correction: my girlfriend and I both went through the medical check PRIOR to obtaining the Z-visa. The medical report was part of the requirements for the Z-visa along with employment license, invitation letter, visa form and passport.

    Otherwise great article.



    The Dr. says:

    I have heard that you actually have to go back to your home country now? Anyone know about this? Or do you just have to apply at the embassy in your home country?

    @The Dr. – They keep changing the regulations, but I’m British and didn’t have to return to the UK to obtain my new Z visa when it was reissued two months ago. However I’d check with the Chinese Embassy website in your home country. Slightly different rules apply to different nationalities. – Chris

    Atif says:


    I am from India & employed in china obtaining a Z visa with a Residence permit of one year up to May 2013. I am little bit confused in Entry and Exit of my Z visa, as it shows that i have only one time entry in china, but i need to visit India and come back at least 2 time this year. Do i need to apply for multiple entry visa again or my residence permit will work for my multiple entry and exit?

    Hello All
    I am an American living in China since 2005, entered with Z Visa and have had my work permit and residence visa issued yearly with No problems. I have a question about what really is the law for a dependent child that was born to a Chinese national. My wife is from China and as mentioned I am USA citizen. We gave birth to a son in 2010. We decided to make him a USA citizen and he nows has a USA passport. In 2011, we wanted to take him back to USA for a visit and it was a real nightmare getting him a 1 time Entry/Exit book that allowed him to leave China. Eventually we successfully got an Entry/Exit book that was issued for 1 exit. Then in 2011, while in USA, we went to the Chinese Embassy in Wash DC and they issued a “Z” visia in his passport. When we returned back to Shan Xi Prov, reluctantly they issued him a 1-year residence visa, piggy-backing on mine………they told me that the China Embassy in USA should have not issued him a “Z” visa. So for year 2011 till now……it was No problem. But now it is time to do the yearly renewal, I have again successfully again been given a 1-year residence visa, but now they are refusing to re- issue a 1-year residence visa for my son. Does anyone know the real standard based on the law for this situation?? My son not being issued a visa, again gives me the complication of freely being able to enter and exit China. Again needing to progress the Entry/Exit book………..which for me and based on my wifes Hu Kou location is really not convenient. Any experienced comments would be of great help………..Thanks………Steve

    mehraz says:

    my class will start in 25 feb 2013 for chinese languege program in shanghai and they want send me offer letter and jw202 form and all document in november (this week) and i will take X-visa from malaysia but im from iran…. and i want to know if i come in 20 november to shanghai to go to see universities for next year and find my home and start my life it might be a problem to change my visa to residence permite ( beacause my class will start in feb2013 ) or not ?

    thank you

    Sourav says:

    A question – I would be landing in China in few weeks on Z visa. I already have a friend of mine who stays there.
    Can I stay in his apartment till my resident permit is done by my employer? Or I need to stay in a guest house/hotel during the process? Actually the hotels seem to be expensive and I don’t know how many days the process goes.

    You can stay in his apartment but you must register with the local PSB within 24 hours of arriving there. – Chris

    Sriyantha says:

    I am a Sri Lankan Citizen., and I am a 50 share hold partner in a Honkong Company,
    and my Factory is Located in China., I need to stay in china and HK for long time – to Run my business, Please guide me to get a Long stay Visa.

    Dana says:


    I’ve gone through all these steps and now have a work permit. However I had to leave China before being able to get a residence permit.

    What type of visa do I need to simply get back into China so I can go get my residence permit?

    Thanks so much!

    Prasanna says:

    I am form India, staying in Shanghai, holding Z category visa(residence permit). Can i travel to Hongkong with my Z category residence permit ? Or do i need to take a separate Visa to travel to Hongkong ?
    Could some help to answer this ?
    Thanks in advance


    Nasim says:

    I am planning to travel to Shanghai to open an individual own company! If any body have information on documents required for that, please send. I will be travelling on a single entry visit visa.

    Hi Guys;
    Requirements for Sri Lankans visa for China & Hong Kong:
    Requirements for Indians visa for China & Hong Kong: http://mumbai.chineseconsulate.org/eng/lsyw/visa/t180027.htm
    Complimentary “Doing Business In China” guides:

    Best wishes

    JI says:

    Hi there,

    What if I have already got a “L” Visa and I am currently dwelling in China. Is the process the same for a work permit if a Chinese enterprise offers me a postion within their organization? Do I still have to go back to Australia and apply through China Consulate in Australia? If not, can I apply in China or Hongkong?

    Warm regards,


    Tim Rufus says:

    Hi Chris

    I am a UK citizen being sent over by my company to work and represent my company in Shanghai. We currently use an agency in China to conduct our business there. I will be working out of the office of our agents in China, but will still be employed by my company. Our agents will be arranging the letter of invitation and work license out for me, but will this cause problems as they will not be directly employing me? Will I need to take a health check in the UK before applying for the Z visa, or will i take it once i arrive in China and i arrange my work and residents permit?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as i need to get the process started?

    Thanks and regards


    Zahid says:

    Hi Chris,

    The BAIC (Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce) has verbally put up the requirement that the copy of the first page of original passport is required attested by the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan. Even after numerous requests they are not giving this requirement in writing or in policy, so we are unable to get the visa issued on just verbal objection without any official or policy reason.

    Nevertheless, to comply with the BAIC request we approached the Chinese consulate in Karachi for the attestation and we were told that they will only attest the documents that have been attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan.

    To get the said document attested we approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan but we were told that the Ministry does not attest the copy of Passport as per the Government directive. However, the ministry provides an Affidavit (Legal document) verifying the passport particulars mentioning on it that the passport particulars are true. Although previously accepted by BAIC, now this affidavit is not being accepted at BAIC and they ask for the attested copy of Passport.

    Please advice what to do.

    Zahid says:

    Basically we are trying to get employment visa “Z”

    Jigar says:

    Hello All,

    Does any of you know, Is it possible to convert X (Student) visa into Z (Work) visa without leaving Mainland?

    What I found is they both are quite similar, like an entrance ticket to China and then requires resident permit to stay in Mainland.
    So, is it possible to request to change the purpose of staying (may be at entry-exit bureau!!) in China without leaving China?


    @Jigar – the Chinese authorities are somewhat inflexible when it comes to such matters and regrettably you cannot “upgrade” a student visa to a work visa while remaining in China. In fact even the granting of work visas to foreign nationals is now only done when the indivudual can show a minimum of two years work experience. Yes, I also think it is an unnecessary hurdle but that’s how it is. – Chris

    camille Galoin says:

    does anybody know if they are company which facilitate the obtaining of the working visa in china? i heard a lot about ” umbrella company” , who normally is in charge of all the staff management! Is it a sure and a secure way?


    Nana says:

    Dear Chris,

    I have a student visa (residence permit) and now I have the opportunity to work part-time (once a week max) for a US-company from distance within China. I would have to go to companies based in China (mostly foreign) and give a 1-hour presentation about this US-based company. Can I do this with my student visa? If not, how could I combine this job with a study in China in a 100% legal way?

    Looking forward to your reply! Thanks!

    @Nana, strictly speaking you cannot work while in China on a student visa. But on a purely practical basis I suggest that what I presume will be a small cash in hand payment for an hours work a week I don’t think this is likely to raise any red flags. But is it bending the law? Yes. Do I think anyone will notice? No.
    That’s the best I can suggest under the circumstances. – Chris

    Audrey says:

    Im from Indonesia. If the employer in China had confirmed my position in the company. Is that any minimum education qualification required by the government to approve my working visa ?

    @Audrey; Yes, there can be. They typically want expat employees to have University degrees and a minimum two years work experience. It is not always enforced, but can be. No, I don’t agree with these restrictions and am reguarly bringing them up with my various Government meetings with pertinent officials. But there could be an issue there. It depends. – Chris

    Marco says:

    Hello all,

    I’m currently applying for a Z visa and my employer told me that I have to fly out from my home country when flying to China on a Z visa. I called the Chinese Embassy here and they said that’s not the case. I was wondering if anyone have had a similar experience and if they agree that it doesn’t matter where you are flying from, the visa is for the border control agent regardless of point of origin.

    @Marco – Someone from one of our Dezan Shira & Assocoates offices will be in touch with you directly about this.
    Best regards; Chris

    Troy says:


    I’m from the US, and I have been married to a Chinese woman, and living in China, for the past 4 years. It is through her that I have been renewing my residents permit. The Chinese company that I work for had accepted my permit saying it allowed me to work part-time. The other day I was told that I must to go back to the US and apply for a Z-visa. Problem: They also said I must show a university degree when I apply for the Z-visa, I don’t have one. I only have a TEOFL certificate from a 1 month course in Zhuhai. Seriousness of the problem: I have a Chinese wife and 3 year old son, and a mortgage on our apartment. Is there a way I can obtain a Z-visa and not risk being denied re-entry? Is there a loop-hole that will let me work legally because of my marriage?
    Thank you for your advice/suggestions

    @Troy – we will answer this directly, but no, the Chinese authorities and immigration department will not force you to part from your family. You have a situation whereby one of the bureau you are dealing with do not understand your rights as married to a Chinese national and with a dependent here. We will get back to you personally. – Chris

    Mike says:

    My employer has not paid tax on my behalf and as left me with the responsibility. If I dont pay tax, would this prevent me from getting another Z visa in the future?

    Nathan Rice says:


    Could you help me with a quick question please?! If i am applying for teaching work via an agency in China, do i need to send my passport details from this end to the agency in order to acquire the Z visa? I am slightly paranoid about giving to many details over the net etc.



    Yes Nathan you need to provide such details as to work in China you need a work visa. In order to process that they will require your details. – Chris

    @Mike – it is your responsibility to pay Individual Income Tax in China, not your employers. You need to get that sorted out and it is unclear from your comment exactly what your situation actually is. If you email us at tax@dezshira.com we’ll have someone assist you with what happened and try and get it cleared up. Otherwise, yes, non-payment of tax can affect your ability to obtain another work visa. – Chris

    Nana says:

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you very much for your reply!

    If I get a work visa now, can I still be enrolled as a student (i.e. live in the university’s dorm)? Or would that mean that I have to move out, de-enroll etc.?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!


    @Nana – You can’t hold two visas – ie: a work visa AND a student visa. But if the University allow you to live in their dorm then that is a private matter you need to discuss with them. Where you sleep is not impactable upon your visa status.

    Douglas says:

    Thank you for the practical advice! I’d like to ask about is it mandatory to return to one’s home country to apply for a “Z” visa, will not traveling to Hong Kong work out? It seems like both sides of the table (employers and visa agencies) are countradicting each other. I’m a US citizen holding an “F” visa. Any insights will be most apperciated!

    Jessica says:

    hi there,

    our company is in uk and we sell equipment to China. We need send some engineers to China to install and commission the equipment. so where can our engineer get the working license? in China or here uk?

    also we have a chinese office in China, but running independently. is it easy if they produce the invitation letter or better get it from the Chinese buyer company.


    @Jessica; you have to be very careful not to trigger what is called “permanent establishment” status in China, in case you could be ‘deemed’ to have a presence there and subject to corporate income tax and the staff to individual income tax in China. As long as they are only installing the equipment you should be ok but as long as it is restricted to that and they are in the country only a short time. The ideal solution to getting them visas would be to ask your Chinese company to deal with it.
    You should read this article about triggering PE in China: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2013/01/28/triggering-china-permanent-establishment-status-for-short-term-expatriate-employees.html
    If you need further assistance please let us know.
    Best regards;

    @Douglas: Hong Kong won’t issue you with a Z visa. You need to get it in your home country and issued by the Chinese Embassy there. – Chris

    Chijioke Ezekugobe says:

    Hi chris,I’m a Nigerian with the intention of living and working in China some day.I would like to know the method of application for ‘ z visa and conditions accompanying this category.

    bobby says:

    Hi chris ,
    i had R.O office since 2009 and now i am offered to work for the chinese company in another city of china.
    1.My question is do i need to go back to my country where as i already have alien employment work permit.
    2.Do i need to cancel my previous alien permit before i apply new one to new company.?
    3.The documents attested by chinese embassy in my country like marriage certificates , brith certificates , has any expiry or validity date? as i see the physical docs it just show issue date but never write anything on expiry date.
    4. In the labour dept. what kind of cancellation i shud apply 1. migration 2. transfer 3.cancel permit ?


    @Bobby, thanks for your question. As follows:
    1) You may be able to negotiate this, but generally yes you need to return.
    2) Yes
    3) Generally they are given 12 months validity if attested, then these need to be attested again.
    4) Cancellation
    Best wishes

    Marqus says:

    It is time china takes this new step to clean up some foreigners who are absusing
    the VISA system.

    Charlie E says:

    Chris – thank you for being a very helpful resource! My question – can a company registered in Hangzhou provide me a Z visa if I am living and working in Shanghai?

    Yes. If you have any issues with this let us know: payroll@dezshira.com
    – Chris

    Oscar says:

    I am a student in china. will graduate in june but i already have a job offer. my current visa is x but i need a z. i know that i must have at least 2 years experience outside china or so i was told by someone. i need to know if its still possible for me to obtain the z visa. and does it apply to my case since i am already in china.
    If there is a way pls help me with the process

    @Oscar: It can be difficult to get a work visa straight after graduating, some cities are stricter than others and insist on the two year rule. However we’ve found that it is not applied consistantly throughout China. So I guess it depends. I view it as an unnecessary barrier to talented young but inexperienced executives who want to be in China to be honest, but if you can’t get such a visa you’ll have to gain two years work experience back home I’m afraid. But whether you can get that or not is location specific. – Chris

    @Chijioke sorry for the delay in replying. The requirements and documents for applying for a “Z” Visa are listed in the original article above, you’ll need to follow those instructions. – Chris

    Mye says:

    Hi Mr. Chris. Your post really helps a lot. I have a job offer in Wuxi China and need to be there on Agust 2013. I have read the requirements for a Z visa. I just would like to know if you have any idea how long will it take to process the application for Z visa? I am currently here in El Salvador and will be in the Philippines on June 2013. But I could only start applying for the visa on July. And also, would you share some information on how to get a visa and what type of visa is needed for my 8-year old son. I will bring him with me in China on August 2013. He will be studying in China.

    Your advise will be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless!

    @Mye; You need to apply for the visa in advance, and obtain a dependents visa for your son. I suggest you google the Chinese Embassy in your own country as they will usually have full visa application details on their website and contact numbers of their visa office in your own country to discuss the details with. Best wishes – Chris

    Shay says:

    Hi Chris,

    I found your responses greatly informative and am hoping you might have a solution to my situation:

    My boyfriend and I work for the same company and have requested to transfer to Shanghai. He has received a job offer and is eligible for a Z visa. However, given that I graduated in May 2012, I have only 1 year of post-grad full time work experience (though I an additional year of relevant full time experience pre graduation) and am therefore ineligible for the Z visa.

    My boyfriend and I are planning to get married within the year. If we were to get married sooner than planned would I be eligible for the Z visa once I have the marriage certificate?

    I am a US citizen and my boyfriend is a UK citizen (not sure if that is relevant).

    Thank you!

    Hi Shay – Congratulations! Yes, you can have a spousal visa. But the catch is that wives using spousal visas can’t work. So to be together you can get married and be with him legally in China under a spousal visa, and then when you’ve completed that two years (which I think is a ridiculous rule) you can change your spousal visa and apply for a work visa as normal. So it looks as if you have to be a housewife for 12 months. But at least you can remain together in China.

    brian olson says:


    i am currently living in china with a tourist visa..i came here to buy materials for building and i have been staying here for 4 months now..i renew my visa in hongkong..last week a company offered me a job which am yet to undertake..how do i go about with the work permit and ressidence permit..kindly advice

    @Brian – Your employer should arrange for you to have an emplooyment contract, as well as arrange for you to go through the registration procedures for work permit and visa, in addition to income tax registration. You need to ask your employer to do this for you as this is their responsibility. If they do not, and you continue to work in China without these documents you will be doing so illegally and that is not a good idea. Let me know if you have other questions or difficulties. Best regards – Chris

    Patrick says:

    Hi Chris,
    My current employment will finish this month and therefore also my residence visa as it was already renew once last year on the same date.
    My question is:
    would I be able to extend my residence visa until I have a new job within the same location and the same type of work?
    I also have the possibility to start a business within a few months how can I stay in china if my residence permit expires?

    Look forward to your advise,


    RIDDHI SHAH says:


    I am from India. My Husband is working in china and have valid work visa and residence permit. I have come to china on L Visa ( Family Visit visa). I have a offer from 1 company in china and they want me to start working immediately. I have certain queries.
    1) Can i get my dependent visa done and start working and side by side my company applies for work permit for me ? Is this possible ?
    2) if Yes, how much time does it takes for getting dependent visa ?
    3) if No, Please provide me some alternative where i can start working immediately for the company and that too legally.
    4) If my company is applying for my work permit do i need to go back to india for get it done or it can be done by staying in china itself ?
    I am totally confused. please let me know and help me in finding a solution.

    Thanks in advance

    Deborah Cotton says:

    I have been working on a Z visa for 4 years in China. I have to go back to America for family problems and will not be working next year. But my partner and I will be getting married in USA after he has his Z visa extended with the same school. Will I be able to get a spousal visa in USA when I can return to China to be with my husband. I will not be working? Will that be a problem?

    Dear Deborah – I have replied to you directly on this. – Chris

    @Riddhi – I have replied to you directly. Best wishes – Chris

    @Patrick – Once your visa expires you have to leave China. You would be here illegally otherwise and subject to fines of RMB500 per day. It may also impact upon your ability to obtain a new visa later.
    I suggest you obtain a tourist visa in the interim – plenty of agents in Hong Kong can arrange this – to give you some leeway while you are deciding upon what to do next. Then when you have a position arranged you can re-apply for a work visa again under your new employer. – Best regards – Chris

    james says:

    Hi chris, i am just graduated in the month of june from china, and i have a job offer from shenzhen, rightnow i m having a student visa, i dont have two years work experience.!

    is it necessary to go back to my home country first,?? some one told me that hongkong run can Also work! are there some other possibilities to work for company, if i can,t get z-visa?

    @James: You may find it hard to obtain a work visa and permit without having two years experience. Your potential employer maybe able to find a way to handle that, and the rule is also erratically applied across China. Personally I think it a stupid and unnecessary regulation.
    However you can’t work legally in China without a work permit or work visa. Some people do work in Shenzhen on tourist visas and travel regularly between Hong Kong and Shenzhen but it’s not advisable to do this – if you get caught it can cause problems later on.
    I think you need to discuss this with your employer.
    Best regards;

    Gia Randalli says:

    I have recently applied for a Z visa and all the appropriate documents were provided by my employer. The consulate returned it asking for the original work permit from a specific branch of government. I had the original work permit from the employer. They so far have not processed my work visa. They are stating a regulation change of August 1. Do you know about this regulation? And is this the one where they are asking for an alien license now?

    Gia Randalli says:

    My job is an entertainment job at a hotel. Does that make any difference?

    James says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m working for a Swiss MNC in Malaysia at the moment(3 years). Recently I’m offered a position in China with the same company. My job is based on niche automation sales, which is pretty hard to get good candidates.

    Do you think I can get a work visa there? I have 10 years experience but no university certificates to speak off. I saw some posting elsewhere that China needs all expats to have a degree to a certain extend. Your advise is very much appreciated.


    @James: These “regulations” are guidelines only and are erractically enforced. With ten years experience I don’t think you should have any difficulties. If questions are raised you’ll have to negotiate with immigration, they’re usually flexible. – Chris

    @Gia: There are regional differences in China, but basically the procedure is as follows. Item “E” is of specific pertinence to you:

    For applying for a Z visa, the applicant needs to submit the following materials:
    – The original and a photocopy of an Invitation Letter by a Duly Authorized Unit, or a Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by an authorized Chinese agency, and one of the following documents:
    A. Foreigner Employment Permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China;
    B. Foreign Expert Confirmation Document issued by State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of China;
    C. Letter of Invitation to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations in the People’s Republic of China issued by China National Offshore Oil Corporation;
    D. Registration Certificate of Foreign Enterprises’ Permanent Representative Offices in China issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, or the approval document for the permanent representative offices of foreign enterprises issued by related commercial departments;
    E. Approval document issued by the Ministry of Culture for those who come to China for commercial performances.
    F. Invitation Letter by a Duly Authorized Unit or a Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by the Foreign Affairs Office of a province (autonomous region, city).
    Accompanying family members of foreigners working in China should submit an Invitation Letter by a Duly Authorized Unit or Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by an authorized Chinese agency, and proof of kinship, e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc. There is no need for them to submit documents of employment permit.
    * Z Visa holders must apply for a residence permit at the local public security authorities within 30 days of entry into China.

    Hope that clarifies – Best regards – Chris

    sassan says:

    I actually am in the same situation as Snyder and would like to know if it is possible to switch from F visa to resident permit while in China?

    I really appreciate your help.



    @Sassan: If you are working in China as a foreigner you must have a Z visa, not an F visa. How the visa is changed from one to the other – there is no hard and fast rule of this; we’ve found that different cities and Provincial Immigration bureau deal with it in different ways. Some require you to leave and apply for a Z visa back at the Chinese Embassy in your home country; others will process it for you in China, although that is becoming less common. So the best I can do is – “It depends”. But be prepared for a trip back home. You need to discuss this with your potential employer and ask the local immigration dept; they will have officers you can advise and who speak English. – Chris

    Amanda says:

    Hi Chris

    My partner and I are all set to move to China in a month. We are native English speakers, entering on Tourist visas, will complete a TESOL course, and then look for work. A few questions:

    a) Do you know if original copies of degrees are required in order to obtain a work visa? Or will a copy certified in my home country (NZ) suffice?

    b) My partner does not have a university degree. It is a strict requirement to have a degree in order to obtain a working Z visa? There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. My understanding is that some employers may be able to support him to obtain a working Z visa although he does not have a degree? Can you please clarify?

    c) Can you confirm that if we were married then he would be on a spousal visa, and be unable to work in China for 2 years?

    Kind regards

    Sexybomber says:

    Chinese visa laws keep changing every minute against foreigners.
    I have been in china for 11 years now on z visa working and also married to a Chinese lady with a daughter. what happens to me in terms of work and residency? Can I apply for permanent residency as i marry for 4 years now or can i apply for talent visa as I am a graduate backed with professional teachers license/certificate? What happens in my case? What kind of visa do i apply for and how can i apply for the visa suitable for me? I know Chinese law forbids a foreigner who marries a Chinese to work. how can i feed my family if work is forbidden for me even though i marry a Chinese? answer me

    @Sexybomber: You are exaggerating the extent of the issue. The laws are ‘not changing every minute’. You are married to a Chinese national, have a daughter and the Chinese will not split up your family. You should continue to be employed under your Z visa as normal as a foreigner. Howevrr, you may also, if you wish, give up your current passport and apply for a Chinese one. Then you can stay in China indefinately and enjoy the benefits of being a Chinese national with all the residency rights that provides.
    Best wishes – Chris

    1) There’s inconsistency in China on this. They may ask for originals, on the other hand a notarized copy may also suffice. I’d bring the originals with you just in case and when done with courier them back home somewhere safe.
    2) Again, there’s regional inconsistancy, but understandably so. In the primary cities, they are becoming more strict and University degrees are required. Further afield these rules become more relaxed as they want to attract talent. English teachers are two a penny in Shanghai for example and they only want the best. That typically manifests itself by demanding university degrees and even proven teaching qualifications and experience.
    3) Just because you are married doesn’t automatically mean he has to have a spousal visa. If he can find a job then he gets a Z visa just like you.
    Hope that clarifies matters – Chris

    Sexybomber says:

    Thanks Chris my question not fully answered. the problem is this: I am a Ghanaian national since 2002 working for all this while with an ESL teacher recruiting agency in Shanxi. They handle my Z working visa but i pay for every cost surrounding the process from medical examination to visa fee. According to my employer, those of us from Africa / Ghana are not allowed to work in China hence the treatment given is; we do not enjoy reimbursement of the airfare after a year contract, we have no insurance covering our lives. I hold degree backed with professional teachers certificate A with 18 years teaching experience, won the municipal government award as an excellent ESL teacher with certificate to prove it. Not forgetting my Chinese wife and my Chinese daughter.

    The problem I face is since the agency I work with doesn’t give insurance and reimbursement of the return airfare:

    1. with the new visa system,can i apply for R1 talent visa or Chinese Id card or passport?
    if yes, what is the procedure and is it so easy a thing to do since I am black? where do i
    begin from?

    2. with the visa system in china, how can i handle my own Z working visa or resident
    permit? what is the procedure?

    3. Should go to Taiyuan my provincial capital to lounge a complain to be carry on or

    4. from one of your replies below, i read, if foreign couples get married and one is on z
    working visa, the other partner who join the z working visa, should stay at home for 2
    years on spousal visa after which she can apply for work visa z. if i want to break from
    my company now,what kind of visa can I apply for in order to be independent and look
    for job or work anywhere? I need your help

    victor says:

    hi … I’ve a x visa in china since one year already and I’ll like to change it into a z visa . i want to know how to apply for a z visa in HK , it’s possible to apply for it when you are from Cameroon ? more over it’s possible for two foreigner to get married here in china ? if yes where exactly I’m actually living in Hangzhou .

    @Sexybomber – There are no official restrictions on individuals from Africa working in China, although it can be more difficult to get visas processed.
    1) The issue has nothing to do with the fact you are black. You need to go and discuss with local immigration concerning which visa type is the most appropriate.
    2). Yes you can. However you need to go to the local immigration dept personally.
    3) I would advise against complaining. However you may wish to contact the Consular services dept. of the Ghanian Embassy in Beijing for assistance, they may be able to help with some diplomatic assistance. Their website and contact details are here: http://www.ghanaembassy-china.org.cn/en/consul.html
    4) If you are married, both partners can obtain Z visas if they have jobs. There is no restriction on this.
    Best regards; Chris

    1) Yes you can apply for a Z visa at the Chinese Embassy in Yuounde, the website is here: http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjb/zwjg/2490/2493/t14435.htm
    2) Yes two foreigners can get married in China, however there are protocols to go through as the marriage needs to be registered with the Government of both parties. For you that means the Cameroon Embassy in Beijing – the contact details are here: http://embassybeijingchina.com/cameroonian/
    If your fiancee is from a different country you will also need to find out the procedures for her to go through the registration process at her own Embassy.
    Congratulations and good luck! We have many African business clients incidentally, including from Ghana and Cameroon, the latter mainly in coffee trading in South China.
    Best regards, Chris

    Donna says:

    Hi! I’ve got all my documents processed and readied by my employer to get a z visa in hong kong next month. My question: is there a certain time when i am expected to go back to China after I get my work visa in HK? I plan to travel a bit after i get my z visa in HK so i’d like to make sure how much time I have before i’m required to use my z visa and enter China.

    Amit says:

    I went through the first stage of z visa, procured the z visa from my home country (single entry 000 days – which i was told is valid for 30 days)
    to be able to get the visa i had to go through a detailed mediacl test back home(as required by the embassy)
    Now i am in china and i am told that the week old medical report is not valid as it is not fro one of their recognised hospital list .
    Is that true ? any workaround ? donot want to go through the tests again .. simply too hectic (and i waste my precious blood)

    @Donna: I think that’s a question you take up with your employer. However I think it wise you use your visa when issued certainly within 30 days of issuance. However you may check with the visa issuing authorities over their recommendations. But don’t leave it too long.
    @Amit: I think you’d better do what they ask. You can get a medical check in China and I suggest you get one done at one of their approved hospitals here and submit that. Your blood replenishes itself in 24 hours so don’t worry! – Chris

    Donna says:

    Thank u Chris. I was told by the Foreign Affairs Ofc of our uni that all work visas issued outside of China has a validity of 90 days. That means I have 90 days to enter China before it expires.

    @Donna: Careful over what that means. Does it mean the visa itself fully expires in 90 days? Or that the visa itself is for a longer period – but you have 90 days to enter China and start using it? You need to be very precise about these matters to prevent ending up with a disappointment. I’d make sure to check again just to be sure – Chris

    Indian says:


    My husband works in beijing and we are going to get our residence permit next week. I am on spouse visa. I wanted to know, how many times can I visit Indian with chinese residence permit. Also, if my Indian passport is renewed, I will have a new passport with a new number. Does that mean I have to reapply for my residence permit, or like other visas on my old passport which are still valid for my current passport, my chinese residence permit will stay valid even though I will have a new passport and new passport number.

    I would also like to know of a website which helps me understand chinese residence permit laws. Thanks!

    Anna says:

    Hello, I will apply for a Z visa. If possible, my husband wants to use the spouse visa because we are married. Does he need to have the medical check up as well? Thanks for your reply!

    @Indian – I don’t know your nationality so its difficult for me to answer that. If you are not Indian you will still need to go through the normal visa application procedure to obtain a visa for India. If you are Indian you can visit as many times as you want, there’s no restriction on you visiting your home country.
    Concerning your new passport, keep your old passport (don’t cancel it) together with your new one. Your China visa in your old passport will still be valid and enter / exit China on that. You can use your new one for India and other countries.
    Regarding Chinese Residency laws and how they affect foreigners – I think you’ve probably already found the best resource in English language here, but you can google and see if you can find any others. If you do, let us know.

    @Anna – Yes he will probably need a medical as well, but not all cities ask for them. – Chris

    elena cappelli says:

    Hi, I’m Italian and I’m in China with a business Visa. It will expire in September. My new company wants me to apply for a Working Visa. Is it necessary going back in Italy or is it possible to apply form Beijing, or eventually Hong Kong?Thanks

    Arun says:

    Hey Chris,i am Arun from India.I have a question to ask.I have a degree and am going to get my 2nd soon.I did my first degree in India and have two years experience.After that i got an X Visa and i am studying in a chinese university and will get my second degree next year.I am still in China.I have read some of your replies above which say that to convert an X Visa into a Z Visa you need to have atleast 2 years of work experience.Now the thing is i do have 2 years work exp when it comes to my first degree but i will have no experience with the 2nd degree(which i am going to get in china).Will the authorities consider the fact that i have already got 2 years work exp(even though its a different field from the degree i am going to get in china) and upgrade my visa from X to Z?What are my chances? Thank You Very Much.

    @Elena: The manner in how this is handled varies from location to location. Normally as you are applying for a work visa the formalities will need to be processed by the Chinese Embassy (in Rome, in your case). However you can ask the local immigration bureau for their views and your company should also be able to let you know. – Chris

    @Arun: It’s the 2 years work experience that counts. The fact you have a second degree is a bonus. You’re in the clear and should have no problems. Congratulations! Chris

    Mandy says:

    I currently have a a foreign experts’ pass, a residence visa and an apartment provided by my work. But I work for a Chinese government establishment and don’t have a landlord or a lease. I may have a housing contract.

    I have a friend coming to live with me in the apartment, who has a job as an ESL teacher and will have a foreign experts pass as well. She will need to upgrade her Z visa to a residence pass within 30 days as required by Chinese Immigration.

    Since we don’t have a landlord, a lease or any friends that speak Chinese, is it possible that she can still get a residence permit?

    Do you know a way to get the temporary resident’s card from the police for those that sublet or live without a lease?

    A confused foreigner.

    @Mandy – you don’t need a rental contract to register with the PSB for your residents permit. You do need to register with the local PSB office, as will your friend. You’ll need to find someone who can show where the local office is, assist you with registration and help translate. Don’t worry, it’s a doddle really. The PSB are quite friendly and will appreciate you taking your own time to get registered. They’re actually good people to know locally. – Chris

    Mandy says:

    @Chris – Thanks for your reply. I thought I didn’t either, but we tried at the local PSB a few days ago, and they actually threatened to take my friend’s passport because we didn’t have any documentation with her name on it that claimed she did indeed live at my house. Actually, they threatened to take it because they didn’t know she was registered at a hotel, and they thought she hadn’t registered within 24 hours after arrival. I haven’t registered with the police station either because my work never told me to, and now I’m afraid to go back there.

    We found a way to get her registered, but it’s just upsetting that we were nearly penalized for trying to do the right thing.

    Do they make checks often at people’s homes?

    Thomas says:


    I’ve just got my Z visa for a teacher position. I would like to travel, around 3 weeks, in China before starting to work.
    Can I do that? Do I have to register every time I move from one place to another?

    Thanks very much for your answer.

    @Mandy – the PSB weren’t being very helpful. They’re not usually like that. Yes they do make checks at people’s homes. You need to get registered – I suggest asking your work for help.
    @Thomas – Yes you can travel. Yes you need to register with the PSB whereever you stay. But normally your hotel/guest house will do this for you automatically, so I wouldn’t worry about it.
    Best regards – Chris

    dtsalim says:


    I’m an Indonesian woman wanting to work in China. I’m wondering if I can apply for a F or Z visa? I hear from several agent that Indonesian woman can’t get those visa in China, is it true? And may I know what document does my company need to help me to apply for F or Z visa? TIA

    @dtsalim: There have been problems for domestic maids getting employment visas for China. I don’t know if you fit into that category or not. If you have a job that China wants skills in, you shouldn’t face problems. The best thing to do is review the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta website here: http://id.china-embassy.org/ and talk to them concerning China visa issues and their requirements. Best wishes – Chris

    Kuen says:

    Hey Chris.

    I have been a bit of reading of all these comments but the answer to my question has yet to be asked. You seem to be really clued up so I am hoping you will be able to help me in my current situation.

    I currently have a residence permit that is valid until December 2013. However, I am desperate to leave the company that currently employs me for reasons I wont mention. Anyway, I want to continue to work in China but my current company refuses to grant me a release letter (and I know its the law, but this is also china).

    So I was wondering if it is possible to cancel a residence visa and then go home and apply for a new working Z visa before December (when my current residence permit expires).

    Or do you have any other ideas for me. Basically Id like to leave asap and carry on working asap but my company refuses to give me a release letter.

    If you could reply directly to my email address that would be great.

    Thanks Chris

    @Kuen – noted and personal email sent. – Chris

    Shay says:

    Hi Chris,

    This is a follow up to a post I wrote in May. I am a US citizen and had asked if it’s possible to work in Shanghai under a spousal visa being that I am not eligible for the Z visa (having graduated in May 2012). You replied that I would still have to wait the 2 post-degree years in order to be eligible for the Z visa.

    I am writing to ask if you know of any other ways I could be legally employed in Shanghai. I read about the X and F visas but I could not find comprehensive information online. I know the X visa is for students and interns who cannot be paid on the visa but can be given housing and transportation allowance. From what I found, the F visa is for business travel for 6 months or less.

    I would be willing to work as an unpaid intern on an X visa, and, if the F visa is an option I could work in Shanghai for 6 months and then take a 2 months off before I would be eligible for the Z visa. My company would support me if I found a way to legally work there.

    Do you know if either of these are viable options and if so what I would need in order to obtain the visa?

    I would highly value any advice you might provide on this.

    Thank you,


    @Shay – Shanghai has become very strict on issuing visas for interns. It’s not a policy I agree with, as it makes it hard for foreign students who may have spent years learning Chinese to actually get a job in China and gain any decent work experience, but that’s besides the point; I don’t make the laws.
    The way the visa issue is handled in Shanghai however is erractic (I know, we have our own large office there – with a couple of interns). You shouldn’t really be working full time in an office at all on an ‘F’ visa – but I won’t tell anyone, and the chances of being found doing this are small. Even better would be if they get you an ‘X’ visa as that legitimizes you even more. My advise is that if your company will support you – go for it. Good luck! – Chris

    Shay says:

    Thank you very much for your reply Chris!

    IB says:

    Hi there,
    We are trying to find work in China as English teachers. We have heard that one needs a degree before the government will accept one. Is this true?

    Sexybomber says:

    IB, even with the degree it’s not easy. you have to go through hell and if you are lucky fine if not,forget about china. the work is there but the harsh and horrible Z working visa makes it unsuitable.

    @IB : Yes. You need a degree and preferably additional teaching qualifications. There have been a number of scandals involving foreign teachers in China recently and they are cracking down on unqualified personnel.

    Best regards – Chris

    chouaib Maallem says:

    Hi Chris. I was in china for a 5 months internship in Shenzhen, I found a work proposition. when I was there I applied for the work permit but the authorities refused my application because I have only 23 months as experience (although I have an engineering diploma I.e. 5 years in college) I contacted my former employer and they agreed to modify my work experience to be more than 24 months but then the authorities said that my the two documents (old & new) are different. Now I am in my country and I have some questions:
    1. What do you think the solution to this problem?
    2. My new position in the Chinese company is international Business development because I handle clients in my country and neighbors (North Africa), and my former experience is in Human Resources. saying that the 2 years problem is solved, Could they not grant me the work permit because of the difference in the two job titles?
    3. does the rule of 2 years require that the experience must be spent in the same company?
    4. what about going back and forth to HK on a tourist visa?
    5. My employer said to me that the application is stuck and we need to wait for a while to apply again. does this change the situation?
    Sorry for the long comment but it’s crucial.
    Please send me back on my email: chouaib.maallem@aiesec.net.
    Thank you in advance
    Could you please send me

    @Chouaib – You made a mistake in presenting two different documents stating different work experience to the Chinese immigration. The Communist Chinese officials are very hot on administration and you’ve now lost credibility with them. You’ll either have to wait awhile until they forget about it (as your boss suggests) or apply through a different office location. To answer your other questions, the guidelines are “two years work experience” and it doesn’t specify this has to be only with one employer or just one job. Also its not a good idea to come and go on a tourist visa from Hong Kong – if you’re working in China you should have the proper work permit and visa or it can cause even more problems for you. My advise is to wait a while and next time don’t try and pull the wool over any Chinese officials eyes, they’re smarter than that and trying to do means they lose any trust in you. – Chris

    Shay says:


    I noticed that they changed the visa application form for the Chinese Consulate in New York as of September 2013.

    Does this mean I should submit this new form and then complete the current Z visa supplementary form?

    I am not sure if you are familiar with the US forms but I figured I’d ask.

    Thank you!

    @Shay – download and complete the new form. – Chris

    IB says:

    Well we have found work at a private school. Reputable I am told. Our accommodation has been sorted, we are doing a course online to confirm to their teaching skills. Waiting for government letter to get our Visa in our country. So hopefully we should be in Hefei by end of September.

    My question is how do we go about getting a VPN site up and running? I do not want to loose contact with my family via Skype / FB or anything else. Any suggestions?


    Sexybomber says:

    use webfreer or purchase VPN { hidemyass, easy hide ip etc online} it’s very cheap

    David says:

    I’m a little confused on when and where to do the health exam. Here’s the situation. I was in China on a business visa for a while, decided to take up employment with the company in Shanghai. I returned to the UK while the company applied for the documentation for the work permit, they started the process just before I left. I have now been told that the company has received the paperwork back: Invitation letter and Permit for foreign experts I believe. I was going to get the Z visa issued at the Chinese embassy here in the UK, then complete the health exam in China. This morning I received an unclear message from the visa agency in China, saying that it is better to get the health exam done in the UK as this means I won’t need to leave China again! Everything I read says 1) I dont need the health exam to get the Z visa issued in the UK 2) I should complete the health exam once in China, then apply for the work and residrncy permits 3) I can complete the process in China, after returning on the Z visa, without leaving China again. Can someone clear this up for me? Cheers

    Can my family apply for S1 Visa along-with my Z Visa, or do they need to wait till I get a resident permit first to apply for it. Also is it possible for my family to travel with me on aL visa and get a resident permit in Shanghai itself along-with me.

    dtsalim says:

    hi, I’m an Indonesian woman who’s planning to work in Beijing. My company is currently applying for an alien employment permit and duly authorized letter for me. They told me that the relationship between Indonesia and China is not good at the moment so there might be a possibility my paper won’t be approved. What are the chances of my paper not approved even thou I have all the supporting documents (e.g: original bachelor’s degree, no criminal record letter, 2 yrs experience)?

    @Abhishek Mathur: For issuing of S1 visa and Z visa, individuals should contact their local Chinese embassy for detailed information.

    However, for foreigners travelling to China on the L visa, it is impossible for them to get the resident permit in China, they must obtain the Z visa first and then apply for the employment license and work permit!

    Matteo says:

    I work in Shenzhen and I have a Working Z VISA valid until the end of February.
    If I resign from my current job will my current VISA still be valid? I want to move to Shanghai and look for a new job once there.

    @Matteo, no, your current visa would not be valid, and the employer may cancel it. This would mean you would have to leave China by a specified date unless you can agree with them not to cancel it even if you leave. However I think that unlikely. – Chris

    @DTSalim: It is unfortunate that China politicizes its diplomatic relations to this extent. However I feel that with your credentials all in order you’d probably be OK. You need to be sure that your employer won’t try and pull the wool over your eyes by claiming this, whereas in fact they just want to employ you without giving you the correct visa. Stick to your guns and state that they must provide a valid work visa and have that in your contract. – Chris

    Steph says:

    Hi, my company wishes to base me in Shanghai due to the amount of projects we have in Aisia.
    I will not be employed by, or receive any pay from a Chinese company.
    Doese the Working Z visa still apply to this situation?

    joy says:

    I try to apply a working visa but with the company assigned third party to help. How ever they told me that 2 years of work experience that I had may be make the visa reconsidered. Because those 2 years of experience is not quite related to the current job that I got offered. What do you think? The visa will get rejected because of irrelevant experience?

    @Steph: Yes, you need a work visa and permit if you are based here.
    @Joy: The criteria is “two years experience” and isn’t related to any specific role. So it shouldn’t have to be in a specific industry.
    Best wishes

    Carlos says:

    Nowhere on here does it say anything about having to provide a criminal back round check to make sure you don’t have any skeletons in your closet.Many of my friends that are currently applying for Z visas are being asked to provide this document. (I swear sometimes these visa laws are ambiguously written on purpose, many times negating important information)

    Jonno says:

    Hi, can anyone help me with some info. I am currently working in Thailand as an English teacher (4 years) and was wondering what my chances are of obtaining the right work permit to teach English (not sure which one to apply for). I do not have a degree but have a level 6 IT Diploma, one level under the degree and CCNA cisco networking certificates.
    I have 20yrs plus in IT, in operations and management positions from banking to insurance industries and also 3 years with ESO (European Southern Observatory, Part of the European space Agency) Can you tell me if any of my IT experience falls into the “Thousand Talents Plan” R visa category?

    Any help on this would be much appreciated

    Carlos says:


    It seems that providing this crminal backround check applies to Beijing (Where I’m currently at) and select Chinese cities. Check out the article above for more info……great…more mafan….

    @Carlos: Concerning Criminal Records Certificates, please see here: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2013/08/21/non-criminal-record-certificate-required-for-employment-license-application-in-beijing.html. You can always use our search function at the top of the page if you’re looking for specific information. (ie: typing in the word “criminal”)

    @Jonno: China has been clamping down on the issuing of work visas to unqualified English teachers, so you may find it difficult here. You can try of course, but do insist that any job your apply for in China the school will provide a work visa – and get that commitment in writing.

    Best wishes – Chris

    Johannes says:

    I have a question. A company offered me a job as an engineer in China.
    I am a fresh graduate, but worked in my field, while studying as an internee or holiday worker.

    Is it possible to declare this kind of work as work experience necessary for applying for a work license in china? Can Internships be counted as work experience too, even though they have been done before or while studying?


    @Johannes: The issue is that the immigration will probably want to see your cv and when you graduated, which kind of messes up your plan. But I won’t tell them if you don’t, so yes, why mot try and include the internship (don’t call it that though) as part of your work experience. If you can get away with it good luck. – Chris

    Carlos says:

    Thanks for the link Chris



    Cara says:

    hi, my husband and I have uk passports. We are starting to apply for a z visa in China. Apparently to obtain a work permit we need to submit a police record. I will obtain this police record either from acro or basic disclosure Scotland, (I am assuming either is fine). But would this need to be verified in order for the Chinese office to recognize it as official? If so, how can I verify it? I don’t think the uk embassey deals with this?
    many thanks cara.,

    Hi Cara; the regulations are a little unclear on this. However I suggest you get it notarized as a true copy by a solicitor in the UK. That should normally suffice, however if the Chinese official dealing with it is feeling really grumpy they may ask you have both the Certificate and the Notarization translated into Chinese and further verified by an official notary in China. If you do get asked that let us know, we work with inexpensive local firms that do that sort of thing. Email if so to us at china@dezshira.com stating where you are in China if you do need that assistance just in case the Immigration Dept. gets pernikerty.
    Best wishes

    Krishna says:

    Hello there!
    I am Krishna, i am married with Chinese nationality and living in china for almost 3 years.
    I was working temporary with my L(family) visa, but I am told I need to apply working visa to work in china legally. I don’t have degree certificate, but only graduate. I have done a lot of sales job in my country and I wanna do the same in china, but I don’t have any certification here.
    Anyway, one of the company wanna hire me here as foreign trade sales. Does anybody have an any idea, in this situation if I am able to apply for Z visa. Please kindly advise me, if there any chances for me to get working visa in china, so that I can live in china with my wife and their family.

    Thank you for your kindly advise!

    @Krishna; Yes, you should be able you get a Z visa through your new employer. They should make arrangements for you – be sure to make sure they do apply for this for you as part of your contract and get it in writing.
    Best regards;

    lawai says:

    Advice :
    7 years in china (miss the time you could get a Z visa in hong kong), don’t make the mistake i made, once you got a resident permit after you got hired , even if you loose your job and you need to go back to your country because of the end of the work permit + resident permit validity, NEVER apply for L or business visa in between to go back to china… otherwise you will have to start all over again if you find a new job (and go back again in your country for Z visa ..etc..) …try to stay in china by finding a “friend” who own a company that can “help” you ( like hiring you and fire you a short time after), as it’ s way more easy to renew a current working permit and resident permit that will give you one more year , even if you worked 2 weeks in this “friend company” … 😉 Then if you find a real job in a new company , you will be able to modify it again ( in 15 days , instead of all costy and time consuming Z visa + Health check + work permit / resident permit process…)

    Jeremy says:


    I have previously worked and lived in Shanghai (2006-2010) at senior executive level for Multi National Logistics company without any issues… However I am now back in Australia (home) and have an offer to go back to Shanghai at a Senior VP level for a global logistics business; the question I have is, an I still eligible for z-class visa (I do not have a degree, just started my MBA though) package will be approx RMB1.6 million per year.


    Matthew Zito says:

    @Jeremy – Based on inquiries with our professional team and the Shanghai HR bureau, we have the following response to your inquiry:
    Firstly, there is no explicit requirement that foreigners must have a college degree to obtain employment in Shanghai. They are only required to have “professional skills and job experience suitable for the work of intended employment”. To show this, foreigners are obliged to submit their highest educational degree, or certification of relevant technical knowledge or skills issued by a competent organization (such as a vocational training institution). In case no such certificates have been obtained, the foreigner should provide reference letters issued by his/her former employer, showing experience related to the position in question. However, the above is only considered a general rule. For Z-visa applications, it is possible to negotiate with the relevant government department on a case-by-case basis.

    Best regards,

    Ivani says:

    Hi i am indonesian chinese, i want to ask if the company in China has accept i can work there then if i want to get the Z visa must i have a proof of relationship (married or what) then can work there ? How if i don’t have it ? Can i still work there ?

    Thaddeus Patin II says:

    my name is Thaddeus, I am from North America, and I recently recieved a job offer to go work for a company in Dalian, China. I am a recent college graduate in the vocation in which the job offer is in regards to, but I do not have 2 years of work experience in the field in mention as I graduated college last year. Can I still get a work visa to work at the company that is offering me the job? Also, is it possible to bring my wife with me if I can take the job working in Dalian, China? I am very excited about the job offer, and would love to be able to do it, but I know there are rules in place for a good reason. I would greatly appreciate hearing back on this matter, and I thank you for your time.

    Thaddeus Patin II

    Steven Elsinga says:

    Hi Thaddeus,

    In principle, the Chinese government doesn’t give visas to individuals who cannot show proof of two years’ work experience after graduation. However, your company can negotiate with the Dalian Bureau for Human Resources and Social Security to give you an Employment License. If the bureau agrees, it will grant an Employment License, in which case you will also be granted the Z visa.

    If successful, your wife can come with you. She will have to apply for a separate visa, called the S1 visa. For this, you will need to bring: 1) the invitation letter for you (the person working in China), 2) a copy of your passport and Residence Permit 3) proof of your relationship with your wife (i.e. marriage certificate) both the original and a copy.

    This means your wife can only join you after you’ve been granted a Residence Permit in China.

    For more information, please read: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2015/01/14/employing-foreign-nationals-china-visa-procedures.html

    Kind regards,

    Steven Elsinga

    Steven Elsinga says:

    Hi Ivani,

    If your company has decided to hire you, it needs to apply for an Invitation Letter and Employment License. If these are granted, you will generally have no problem applying for a Z visa, employment permit and residence permit. These documents will let you work and stay in China, you do not need to be married for this.

    If you are looking to bring a spouse or children with you, you can apply for a special visa for them, the S1 Visa.
    To receive an S1 visa, you need to bring the Invitation Letter of the person working in China, that person’s passport and Residence Permit, and proof of your relationship (i.e. marriage certificate, birth certificate etc.)

    Note that your family can only come after you’ve been granted a residence permit in China.

    For more information, please read: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2015/01/14/employing-foreign-nationals-china-visa-procedures.html.

    Kind regards,

    Steven Elsinga

    Francis says:


    I’m Francis, a Nigerian citizen presently working in China (with a valid Z Visa, Work Permit, Residence Permit and Employment Certificate) on a 6weeks on, 3 weeks off rotation schedule. I’ld like to bring my wife and little daughter on my next trip late March, 2015.
    We’ve been trying to get a Dependency Visa for my family with all the required documents provided. But Chinese Embassy in my Country Nigeria are refusing to attend to us. They’re request for LOI from the chinese govenment even though I’ve presented the one with which I got my Z visa just 3 months ago. They even refuse to grant a Tourist Visa saying they only grant Tourist Visa to Nigerians with Dual citizenship of another approved country.
    I contacted Bureau of … in China and was told they only issue LOI for Business and Work Visas.
    My Question: What official Letter or proof can I get from the Chinese Government here in China to show my eligibility to the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria (I understand many Nigerians have painted us black here in years past, but I’m not one of them and I have all valid Chinese legal documents to proof)? What department can I contact or how do I get this document? I’ve sent 2 mails differently to the contact email on the chinese website with no response, I’ve called all the lines but not valid, the only one that went through was picked by a lady who speaks only Chinese. Kindly provide as much information as possible.
    Thanks and sorry for the lengthy comment.

    Steven Elsinga says:

    Hi Francis,

    If you are looking to bring a spouse or children with you, you can apply for a special visa for them, the S1 Visa.
    To receive an S1 visa, you need to bring the Invitation Letter of the person working in China, that person’s passport and Residence Permit, and proof of your relationship (i.e. marriage certificate, birth certificate etc.)

    Note that your family can only come after you’ve been granted a residence permit in China.

    Chinese embassies sometimes have different policies depending on which country they’re based in. You might try applying for your family’s visas in another country or in Hong Kong.

    For more information, please read: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2015/01/14/employing-foreign-nationals-china-visa-procedures.html.

    Kind regards,

    Steven Elsinga

    David says:

    Hi all,

    I am Swiss and working for a Swiss company. Now, my company will send me to China to establish a subsidiary in Beijing. At the same time, my girlfriend will relocate to Shanghai. Our plan is to have two flats, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. At the beginning, I will be liviing during the week in Beijing and spend my weekends in Shanghai. Later, I will work 3 days in Beijing and 2 days in Shanghai (home office) per week.
    Is this possible with regards to work and residence permit in China?

    Thank you for your feedback and best regards,

    sonia says:

    Im portuguese and i already have a z visa, but i need to change my company, from the company that made my the z visa, they offered me the materials to quit job, they say i just need to give this to my new company and the new compamy can give me a new work permission, but do i need to do a new staying permission again?

    juliana says:

    Hello I am a brailian applying for working visa and residence permit in China. I am married to a Colombian. Can he apply for family visa to move to China with me?

    Thank you!

    Whats Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & help other users like its aided me. Good job.

    Marie Zhang says:

    I am an American female married to a chinese national. I am living in guangzhou using the Q2 visa. I have been offered a full time job but it is not possible for me to leave China now. is there any possible way to get my Z visa here without leaving the country? ANYWAY at all?!?!

    Ed. says:

    Hi I am working for my european family business and was travelling to China for many years.
    We have a newly opened Joint Venture company in Qingdao and I am nominated as the Vice Chairman. My problem is that for the Z visa it is required to have a university degree. Due to my father passing away and me leaving the university i didnt finish my degree.
    Will i have problem to get the Z visa without the Degree if i am sent by my family business to work in the Joint Venture in Qingdao? Thanks for your help. Much apprecaiated.
    I have working experience since 2005

    Smitha says:


    I am from India. My Husband is working in china and have valid work visa and residence permit. I have come to china on L Visa ( Family Visit visa). I have a offer from 1 company in china and they want me to start working immediately. I have certain queries.
    1) Can i get my dependent visa done and start working and side by side my company applies for work permit for me ? Is this possible ?
    2) if Yes, how much time does it takes for getting dependent visa ?
    3) if No, Please provide me some alternative where i can start working immediately for the company and that too legally.
    4) If my company is applying for my work permit do i need to go back to india for get it done or it can be done by staying in china itself ?
    I am totally confused. please let me know and help me in finding a solution.

    Smitharao says:

    I am from India. My Fiance is working in china and have valid work visa and residence permit. I have come to china on Which Visa ( Family Visit visa). I have certain queries.
    1) Can i get my dependent visa done and can I start working ? Is this possible ?
    2) if Yes, how much time does it takes for getting dependent visa to work?
    3) if No, Please provide me some alternative where i can start working immediately for the company and that too legally.
    4) how long I can stay as dependent visa?
    I am totally confused. please let me know and help me in finding a solution.

    Rainy Yao says:

    @Smitharao: Thanks for your question. No,you need to obtain a work visa/Z visa to legally work in China. And yes generally you will have to go back to your home country while the company is applying for your work visa.

    Rajiv kumar says:

    Dear Sir,

    I’m habitant of India my wife has done Ph.d ( Hindi ) Having more than 6 yrs experience and i am graduate .We have 8 yrs old son. Are we eligible to get
    Z visa , and how ?

    Please reply me .
    Regards ,
    Rajiv kumar

    Otapo says:

    Hi Chris,

    I found your article and responses informative, I am hoping you can relieve some of my worries and stress. I am a 26 year old South African female and I have been offered a teaching position in Xi’an China. My documents are being sent to me from the HR manager of the school and should arrive on Friday. I am going to obtain my Z visa, how many days is that visa Valid once it is issued to me before and/or after I enter China? I also wanted to know once I have been given the thumbs up by the government in China and when I take the documents to the Chinese embassy in South Africa, is there still a possibly of my Z visa being denied?

    Stefan says:


    I’m an Indonesian with Z visa (residence permit). Can I go to Hong Kong or other countries and go back to China with Z visa? Or do I still need to apply for another Chinese visa?
    Thank you.

    Rainy Yao says:

    @Stefan: Thanks for your question! Yes, you can go to other countries and go back to China with Z visa as long as your Z visa (residence permit) has not expired.

    Sameer says:

    Hey, I am currently studying PhD in Nanjing, am writing my PhD thesis and then will have a thesis defense (3 to 6 months later), I am currently on student visa and got a job offer from Shenzhen my employer wishes me to join earlier after finishing my thesis and I also want to join them soon, can I successfully apply for work visa by using my master degree and having 2 year’s experience prior to my PhD graduation (only thesis defense left which will required around 3 to 6 months later)?

    Specifically without finishing the PhD degree can I get the work visa on master? Although only defense is left, after thesis defense will be graduate. chances of getting successfully?

    Is there any documents required submit to PSB (if any)?


    Jiyada says:


    – I have VISA type Z. Do you know how long the residence VISA process will be taken?
    – Once i get the residence VISA, can I do China multiple entries? (leave China and come back 2-3 times)


    Tony says:

    great article, thanks.

    Unfortunately, the link to “management system for foreign workers in China (only in Chinese)” is dead. (fwp.safea.gov.cn/index_index.action)

    Has the website moved?
    Does anyone know?


    Pavithra says:


    I am working in Shenzen. I have a z visa now. I did not get my allien work permit yet. and its already 15 days since i entered. I have ” Notice on Work Permit for Aliens,”. When asked the SAFEA, they said its not approved yet. My question is that with “Notice on Work Permit for Aliens,” is it possible to apply for residence permit. Because my employer told that they will do it . How long will it take to process work permit. Please help.

    E says:

    Hi, I’m travelling to China on a tourist visa. My parnter got a job in China and will be applying for a work (Z) visa. My company here in Canada would like to continue paying me to do freelance work for them while I’m in China. How would that work with my visa application? Can I apply for a work visa as well if my employer is not Chinese?

    Thanks to anyone who can help!

    Marc says:

    I’m currently on a work (z) visa working for a Chinese company. If i want to move to a rep office what is the process for work visa application? Is it the same?

    Jake Liddle says:

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for your inquiry. Please contact our service team at http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration for more information.


    Jake Liddle says:

    Thanks for your inquiry. Please contact our service team at http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration for more information.

    Jake Liddle says:

    Thanks for your inquiry. Please contact our service team at http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration for more information.

    MR J FLANAGAN says:

    Good day,
    I’m a South African and I have just graduated, I have my graduation letter confirming my degree however do not have the degree certificate untill mid October, I have been offered a job in Hangzhou – What are my options with regards to working in Hangzhou before my degree is issued, Can I start work on a business visa before receiving my actual degree from back home and applying for a work permit, Can the Chinese embassy in South Africa issue a work z visa or something of the sorts, The company I will be teaching at say this is fine and I can start work on a business visa and within 30 days apply for a work permit.. can you advise me on how this works and what I should do?
    Much appreciated.

    China Briefing says:


    Thank you for your inquiry. Please contact our HR specialists for more information on visa matters here http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Angel says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m from the Philippines, and I recently had an interview as a teacher with one of the agencies in China. They want to get my services due to my work experiences, but the problem is I’m a college undergrad, so I don’y have any diploma which they can use to get me a working visa. They advised me to apply either for a business or student visa instead, so I can go in China and work with them. What do you think is the best way for me to solve this? I really want to get the teaching job in this country. I appreciate your response. Thanks a lot.

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Angel,

    Thank you for your inquiry. It is illegal to work in China on a business or student visa. Please contact our HR specialists for more information: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Madhusudan Londhe says:

    I am an Indian and have got an opportunity to work in China for one year as a Project Manager (Technical support) as a Free Lancer through a European company. I have following Questions
    1) Which Visa will be applicable and how do I get it.
    2) Work Permit Visa should be applied from India or it can be obtained on arrival.
    3) What is the procedure and what all documents are required for Work Permit Visa.
    4) What are the Fees structure.
    5) What if the Project gets extended, do I get the extension in Work Permit for that specified period and how?
    6) If any additional information you have regarding the Work Permit Visa please share.

    Ejo khan says:

    Hello all , my company completed all the steps required and will get the work permit notice on 9 of October, but there is an issue the company mistakenly put my martial status “unmarried ” but I am married and will take my family? Do the company have to repeat the whole process from day 1 or is there any way to update information of employer?

    Thanks in Advance

    China Briefing says:

    Thank you for your inquiry. Please contact our HR specialists for advisory on visa and work permit matters: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    André says:

    Hello! This article was a great help thank you.

    I have a question and if possible I’d like to hear your opnion.

    My documents for Z visa have been approved by the Chinese government, but the permission will be emitted only next month (chinese holidays etc). I’m currently in Brazil my home country, but I’m planning on visiting Hong Kong before moving to China. Can I apply for my Z visa from there? (of course, I’ll take with me the letter from the Chinese Government).

    Best Regards

    China Briefing says:

    Hi André,

    The visa application process is much easier to complete from your home country, particularly because the application specifies which embassy or consulate you are applying from. Hong Kong also has restrictions on Chinese visa applications for foreigners without right of residence in Hong Kong, especially for non-tourist visas. Changing locations to complete the application could result in lengthy delays, possibly requiring you to restart the entire process. For more information, please contact our HR specialists here: http://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    Frank Cassalger says:

    Is there an upper age limit for the new work Visa

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Frank,

    There is no age limit for Tier A work permits, but applicants generally must be below the age of 60 for Tier B and Tier C. For more information on work permit tiers, please refer to this article: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/07/19/china-work-permits-are-you-a-b-c-tier-talent.html

    work permit says:

    I am losing my work permit. Would you like to apply for a work permit again?
    During the application process, I have to provide the authorities with what documents.

    China Briefing says:


    Please refer to this article for more information on applying for a work permit: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/05/16/chinas-work-visa-unified-work-permit-benefits-foreigners.html

    Gio says:

    Is it correct that the employment starting date is related to Work Permit only?
    Can an employment contract be signed and start as soon as the employee enter China with a Z Visa?
    Thank you

    Stranded in China says:

    American citizen here changing jobs from southeast China to Beijing. I had to quit my old job before the government would process the new work permit. Point system puts me at very highest B category. But my preapplication has been rejected! Don’t know why, but I have the points. Now I’m in China unemployed. Any recourse here? Is the new system not necessarily followed?

    stephen says:

    Chinese government and academicians are stupid. They unnecessary delay the process. Each days, they ask several irrelevant documents. They are idiot. I quit my plan to go to China.

    China Briefing says:


    The point system published by the government is a general guide, but local governments and districts might have their own way of calculating and granting work permits. It is also possible that there was an error in the application paperwork or an issue with the company sponsoring you that caused your application to be rejected rather than your qualifications. We recommend that you contact the local labor bureau and your company’s HR department for clarification.

    For more information, please contact our HR specialists here: https://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Gio,

    The Z visa allows a foreigner to enter China for work purposes, but technically the employee must acquire the work permit before starting work. The work permit is acquired after the employee enters China on a Z visa.

    For more information, please contact our HR specialists: https://www.dezshira.com/services/payroll-human-resource-administration

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