Z Visa application guide for teaching English in China

You have applied, been called back for an interview and just recently been told that your application to become one of Vinston’s FTs (that’s Vinston speak for “foreign teachers”, meaning non-Chinese English teachers) has been successful. What’s next? A whirlwind trip half way around the world that’s what. Not so fast; before that, comes the visa application. In this case, it is the Z visa you have to apply for. This is how the application process for the Z visa unfolds.

Preliminary processes

Before the actual application for the visa, all applicants intending to work in China to teach English have to have a criminal clearance certificate. This is often a requirement in other countries as well when people wish to move abroad, especially for work. In South Africa, an application for a criminal clearance certificate typically takes six weeks. You have to show up in person at a police station anywhere in the country that facilitates clearance certificates. You will need to fill in an application form, have your fingerprints physically taken by an official, then pay an admin fee. Following all these, you will be given instructions by the official on the timeline until your receipt of the certificate itself.

While waiting for your criminal clearance certificate, you can have your qualifications authenticated. This can be done through SAQA, the South African Qualifications Authority. This process also requires the filling in of forms, which are all available via their website. According to their site, the authentication process takes about 14 working days. Other details about any fees applicable are also available from the site.

Another requirement for the visa application is a medical exam that includes X-Rays as well as blood tests along with a physical exam. There is form that must be completed by the physician who does your medical exam that is part of your visa application. The results of both the X-Ray and blood tests may not be available on the same day as your physical exam. This dependent on the medical services you use. Cost and other associated fees will be communicated to you by the service you use.

Applying for the Z visa

The Z visa is granted to people who have been employed by companies in China. Since you will be teaching English in China, you have to apply for a Z Visa. The application requires a submission of your passport, along with a copy of the passport page that details your biographical information and has your picture to the Chinese embassy or consulate. There is also a visa application form that must be completed, with a passport-size photo attached, and submitted along with other requirements such as accommodation and potential round-trip flight ticket details. It is not necessary to have booked and paid for a flight at this time, but a quote for flights – “flight itinerary” – on your intended dates of travel will also suffice. The application process typically takes seven to 10 working days.

Once you have received your passport with the Z visa affixed inside, you may purchase flight tickets and travel to Changsha. Z Visas have a one month validity period, and the expiration date is indicated on the visa itself. This means that you have a month from the date of issue, to enter China otherwise the visa expires and you have to reapply. Once you have entered China, a member of the Vinston team will meet you at the airport and take you to one of our prearranged accommodation venues where you will have time to recuperate and refresh. Following this, you will have to register your presence at the nearest police station; by law, this has to happen within 24 hours. The next step is the work permit application, which, to initiate, requires a medical exam by a physician in China. The results of this exam, along with all original documentation, including your passport, will be submitted to bureau application of your work permit, and thereafter, your residency permit. Each of these permits can take 15 working days to process and one of our FAO team can make the application on your behalf; this is really why Vinston is one of the best companies to teach English in China with. If you wish to handle the application yourself, that is also okay. During this time, you cannot leave the country since your passport would have been handed over for processing.

Following processing, your passport will be collected and returned to you, with the work permit card kept in your employee file by HR. The next step is application for the residency permit, which you must do in person. You will be accompanied by a member of the FAO team to guide you etc. This application can take 15 working days but is usually complete in 10. On receipt of your passport, then you are free to travel in and out of China during the holiday periods. Residency permits are valid for 12 months from the date of application.

And then you are set. Let the adventure begin.