Finding a Job in China as a Foreigner: A Guide to Obtaining a China Work Visa

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Are you an expat thinking of finding a job in China? You’re not alone. Nicknamed the “factory of the world,” China has become a popular destination for foreigners looking for work outside their country of origin. That’s not too surprising, though, considering the vast number of work opportunities in China.

If you are a foreigner, this quick guide will show you how to find jobs in China and the requirements for obtaining a China Work Visa.

How to Find Work in China as a Foreigner

Having a contact person who works for a company in China is your best bet for finding employment in the country. They can help you get hired subject to China’s Exit and Entry Administration Law.

If you don’t have a contact person in China, your next best option is to scour the internet for job openings in the country.

Some online resources where you can submit applications and CVs. You can expect to get up to a 1% response rate from Chinese employers in most cases.

Note that you might need to translate some of the websites into English. You can also search for blogs and articles written by trusted websites such as CNN. These sites sometimes create excellent content where foreigners can work opportunities in China.

Common Jobs Available for Foreigners

Foreigners can find plenty of work opportunities in China but the chances are higher with the following types of jobs:

  1. Teaching: China regards education as one of the most important cultural values. This explains why teaching is arguably the most popular career choice for many expats. English language teachers, in particular, can find quick employment in China. You need to be a native speaker, have an authenticated TEFL/TESOL certificate, and hold a Bachelor’s degree in addition to a minimum of two years of teaching experience.
  2. Information Technology: IT is among the fastest-growing industries in the world, and China is a leading country when it comes to technology. This creates room for tech-savvy foreign job-seeker to integrate the country’s technologies with the rest of the world.
  3. Writing: China is becoming more modern than ever, and that’s a huge opportunity for foreigners in the writing industry to write, edit, and create content for both web and media. The demand for writing and editing talents is high in the news, reporting, travel, and expat lifestyle fields.
  4. Engineering: Even with a large number of local talents, foreign experts in the field of engineering are highly valued, especially those with the specialized knowledge and experience to fill the positions of consultants and architects.
  5. Managerial jobs: Many foreign corporations and companies that expand their operations to China need expats that can ensure the smooth running of operations between the local Chinese branches and the parent organization for increased profitability.
  6. Marketing: Foreign job-seekers with the right expertise in design, advertising, and brand strategy are usually in high demand, thanks to the increasing amounts of startups and existing corporations and companies in China.
  7. Hotels and Tourism: The hotels and tourism industry in China is a booming one. The country attracts travelers in droves from across the world. The increasing growth rate in this sector provides a massive opportunity for foreigners to work in tour-guide companies, travel agencies, and hotels.

A Word of Advice: You want to stay away from working as a foreign domestic helper or maid, especially in mainland China. The law strictly prohibits the hiring of foreigners to work as maids. You can be fined or face a 15-day jail term, both of which are not helpful to your career, especially in a foreign country.

The Job Application Process in China

The process to land a job in China is pretty straightforward. It starts by submitting the following:

  • Application letter stating why you are applying for the job and why you think you are qualified. This should be short and concise, as lengthy cover letters are not necessary.
  • A 2-page CV or resume outlining your personal information, education, accomplishments, work experience, skills, and career objects. State the facts simply and modestly and avoid anything that can be misinterpreted as bragging. The Chinese appreciate modesty and any sign of arrogance in your resume could create a bad impression.
  • Copies of your degrees, diplomas, and relevant qualifications.

Next, be prepared for a phone interview if the company is interested in your profile. With major corporations, you are likely to attend several in-person job interviews. In any case, remember to be clear about the skills and expertise you bring to the table while being modest.

Tip: To help you prepare better for a job interview and increase your chances of landing the job, try to provide answers to these questions:

  1. Why should an international company in China hire you instead of sending an internal employee who already understands the company to China?
  2. Why should a local Chinese company hire you instead of a Chinese resident who is familiar with the environment and is probably equally qualified?

While work opportunities abound in China, going to live and work in the country as an expat is not as simple as booking the next flight. You need a Work Visa to find employment in China, and the next section will show you everything you need to obtain the visa.

China Work Visa: Requirements and Application Process

The most common type of visa that will get you a work permit in China is the Work Visa, also known as the Z-Class Visa (or simply Z Visa). Thanks to the Chinese government, the application process is somewhat simplified but the requirements can be quite complicated, especially if you don’t know the exact steps to follow.

First, you must meet the following basic requirements if you are a foreigner hoping to work in China anytime soon:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Have a clean bill of health
  • Have no criminal record
  • Possess above-average skills and work experience to fill intended job positions
  • Have a ready employer
  • Have a valid passport and other international travel documents

How to Apply for China Work Visa (Z-Class Visa)

You to need visit a diplomatic mission, consulate, or Chinese embassy in your country to apply for a Work Visa. Typically, there is no need to make an appointment but you need to apply in person. Alternatively, a visa agency acting on your behalf can apply for you. Note that mailed visa applications are not usually acceptable. Also, you need to have your documents authenticated by the Chinese embassy before you can apply for a Chinese visa.

How Long Can You Stay in China with the Z-Class Visa?

The Z-Class Visa is typically a single-entry visa with a “000” stay duration. This allows you to stay in China for only 30 days from your date of arrival but can be extended to with a Temporary Residence Permit. With the help of your employer you can (and must) apply for this permit to allow you to live in the country for a longer period. The permit grants a minimum of 90-day stay duration and a maximum of 5 years.

China Work Visa Documentation Requirements

Required Documents

  1. Valid Passport (not less than six months before expiry and with at least one blank page left in the passport)
  2. Work Visa Application Form (truthfully and accurately completed)
  3. Recent Photo (attached to the Application Form)
  4. Foreigner’s Work Permit (see below)
  5. Government authorization letter or employment contract
  6. Qualification certificate
  7. Medical report
  8. Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (notarized by a solicitor or public notary)

Work Permit Classification

With the recent introduction of a point-based system for expats, China has further simplified the process of determining the class of work permit foreign job-seekers can get. The point-based system includes a three-tier categorization to limit less-skilled foreign talents and attract more high-skilled expats.

Foreign employees are categorized as:

  • Class A: These are elite expat talents who demonstrate entrepreneurial skills. Individuals with international awards (in addition to their degrees) are usually considered Class A employees. Also, people who score above 85 on the point-based system are rated Class A employees.
  • Class B: Holders of a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of two years of work experience are considered Class B employees. Also, an expat with a master’s degree from certain top universities across the world falls into this category. Lastly, foreigners can qualify for a Class B work permit if they score between 60 to 85 points on the point-based system.
  • Class C: Foreigners who enter China for an internship or seasonal employment are considered Class C employees. You are also considered a Class C employee if you score below 60 on the point-based system.

Cost of China Work Visa

The cost of applying for a Z Visa in China can vary between countries. For example, US citizens can expect to pay $140 (USD) for the visa, while the visa fee for Canadians is $142 (CAD). Expats from the UK will pay £151 (GBP) and foreigners from Australia can expect to pay a visa fee of $109.5 (AUD).

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today. You can read more about Jeremy at his bio.

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