Megan Grey has been in China for just over two weeks, at Yew Wah International Education School of Tongxiang. She tells us she is having an amazing experience so far, and has written lots of blogs about her experiences which we can’t wait to share with you. In this first blog she recounts her experience of obtaining a Chinese working visa, complete with the mistakes she made, and how to avoid them.
This blog post is an attempt to help anyone out who is trying to go through the exhausting, frustrating and simply ridiculous process of applying for a Chinese visa. I know that when I went through it, I would have found it helpful to get some advice from someone who had done the same thing to explain the process in simple English terms.
Just bear in mind that everything I tell you was true when I started applying for a working visa during the beginning of 2017, but the regulations change all the time so might be different for you. You need to check with your school’s HR department for what you need and what steps they can do for you.
Step 1: Send documents to your school
You need to email a huge list of documents to your school. For me this included the following:
- A full colour scanned copy of your passport
- Authentication of degree certificates, teaching credentials and DBS/police check form (I will explain this bit and how to get something authenticated, it’s a tricky process!)
- A full colour scanned copy of university transcript
- A CV
- A reference letter from your last employer (this needs to include your full name and passport number, your period of employment and details of your teaching position)
- Pay slips from your previous employer
- The name and address of the Chinese embassy/consulate from which you will apply for your entry visa (there is one in London, Manchester and Edinburgh)
- An overseas correspondence address
- A health certificate (I’ll explain this bit again later too)
- A signed letter of commitment
- A signed employment contract
- Full colour passport photos (tip: bring a few with you when you get to China, I had to get some more done when I got here)
There are more steps to do if you are married or have children but for little old me that was it.
Step 2: Get the medical check
In order to work in China you need to prove that you are fit and healthy to do so. I went to a place in Manchester called sameday doctor. You’ll need to get an ECC, a chest x-ray, and a blood test. There’s an official form to fill out, if you google it you might find it, my school sent it to me. You need to make sure you have a photo attached to the form and the doctor signs it and stamps it to make it official. You will have to pay for it and get it done privately, it’s expensive! Mine cost nearly 500. *Important tip: save all your receipts so you can get reimbursed from your school.*
Step 3: Get your documents authenticated
Word of warning… this step is a long process so get it done as soon as possible. I needed to get my degree certificate, my teaching credentials and my DBS check authenticated.
- The first thing you need to do is take it to a solicitor, they need to sign a photocopy of the document to prove that it is a legal document. CAREFUL: for the DBS document you have to sign the original document but for the degree and teaching certificates, signing a photocopy is okay. I went to a solicitors in Manchester called Stephensons, they are really helpful. They saw me on the same day and only charged me a fiver per document. I went in about 5 times by the end! Learn from my mistakes and do it right the first time!
- The next step is to send the documents to the Foreign Commonwealth office in Milton Keynes. You need to fill out a form online, google FCO documents authentication and it will take you to a .gov website. You need to fill it out and print it off. Then send it on tracked delivery to the address on the form. This takes about 2 weeks to come back to you. This costs £35.50 per document so it soon adds up! When it comes back it will have an A5 sized document stapled to it to prove it’s a legal document.
- The final step is to take the documents to the visa office, I went to the one in Manchester on Denison Road. You will need to take a photocopy of the document too with all the things attached. Make sure you do the front and the back (starting to see all my mistakes yet?). You also need to take your passport and a photocopy of the passport. There’s a form to fill out too (such a massive faff!). They will take the document from you, you can pick it up 3 working days later and need to pay £15 per document. It will have an official stamp from the embassy.
- Then you can scan and send all these documents to your school and they can apply for a work permit. You may also get an invitation letter, I didn’t need this when I applied but this changes all the time.
Step 4: Get your work permit
Once everything is sent in you can receive your work permit, this is basically a letter that says you have permission to work in China. You need this document and your school’s license (just ask your school and they can send this to you), then you can go to the visa office. In Manchester, it is near China town on Morton Road. You need to take your passport, your permit and the school’s license. I got seen really quickly and didn’t need an appointment, however, in London I heard it’s much harder and you need an appointment to do it. You hand everything in (they will keep your passport) and 3 working days later you can pick it up. It cost me £178 so be prepared to have to pay a lot for it! You’ll get a sticker in a page in your passport and with that, you can be allowed into China.
Simple as ABC… I think not! I hope that helps even a little bit! If you are applying for a Chinese Z visa (that’s a working visa) good luck! I hope the process is more straightforward for you than it was for me.