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Living & Working in China – A guide for Canadians looking to work in China

China has become a global economic force and as such is increasingly offering high-skill and high-paying employment opportunities. The Chinese are hungry for western content and culture and are increasingly including English language studies at all levels of schooling. Improving competency in the English language has become a major priority for the Chinese government and as a result it is continuing to encourage native speaking foreigners to visit and work in China.

Obtaining a Work Visa for China

China’s visa system is relatively simple as it only offers one type of work visa, most commonly known as the Z-Visa. This is a general work visa and is issued to any foreigner wishing to work in China. There are currently no Holiday Work Visas available in China. In order to obtain a Chinese Z Visa for work, you must apply for one at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate Visa office in your area. If you cannot visit personally, you may entrust a friend or a travel / visa agent to go to the visa office and apply for the visa on your behalf.

If you successfully obtain a Chinese Z-visa it will be valid for one entry for up to three months after it is issued.  You will then have to go through a variety of residential formalities by the local public security department within thirty days of entry into China.

Requirements for Z-Visa Applications:

You will need a “Alien Employment License” which is issued by the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources. OR a “Foreign Expert Work Permit” issued by the State Administration of Foreign Affairs.

  1. A “Visa Notice” / “Notification Letter” / “Invitation Letter” from an authorized department in China.
  2.  A passport with at least six months of validity.
  3.  A colour passport sized photo of you.
  4.  A photocopy of your passport.
  5. China Visa Application form. 

Teaching ESL in China

There are a variety of English teaching opportunities in China that include:

Public Schools – Most public schools desire a Western English teacher, and the demand is very high from these schools. Though Chinese public schools are government run, some have gained a poor reputation for attempting to change teaching contracts after you’ve arrived in China. It’s important to do the necessary research before you commit to a school.

Private Language Schools – Most of these schools deal with teaching children of school age, however as business grows in China, more and more private language schools are popping up dedicated to teaching business professionals.

University and College – These are typically the lowest paying jobs but usually have a lower work-load than public or private language schools. In most cases housing is provided on campus. The best time to apply for these jobs is in July and August.

You can find a fairly comprehensive teaching job board for China here:

Requirements for Teaching in China – While there are no official government requirements for teaching English in China, these vary wildly from school to school. It is best to check what type of educational and experience requirements each position requires.

Criminal Background Check Requirements for Chinese Work Visas

Recent changes to Chinese immigration policy make it somewhat unclear as to whether you will need a criminal background check to work in China. Some have reported not needing one, while others have received a request from the Chinese government for an official criminal background check from the RCMP. Additionally as of July 2013 many major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Wuhan now require any foreign workers living and working in their cities to submit a formal criminal background check performed by an investigative body, like the RCMP, in their home country. Many other Chinese cities are expected to follow this trend.

Additionally, many companies and schools in China will require an official criminal background check to also be performed.

Pacific Fingerprint can help you with this step, which includes taking your fingerprints and preparing a C-216C fingerprint form as well as submitting your criminal background check application to the RCMP using encrypted software on your behalf.  Click here for more details on how we can help. (

Find out more about obtaining work visas and working in China: 


Please note that while we try to keep the information on this page as accurate as possible, foreign immigration requirements and policies change all the time. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the official Chinese Embassy to Canada website:

Pacific Fingerprint does not provide any services related to obtaining a Chinese work visa, with the exception of any necessary fingerprinting services for the purpose of a criminal background check that the Chinese government or your place of employment may require.

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