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     Deciding to take a teaching job in China immerses one in a sea of bureaucratic issues, not the least of which will be your visa status. Since it will constitute your right to be in the country and to work legally, it is often foremost on the minds of most people choosing to make the move; the FAQest of them all. 

     Unaccustomed as we many are to securing, renewing, and expiring by document - you have probably always been a citizen of your own country - here are the details you'll need to get a visa that will allow you to live in China and teach English. 

Z Work Visa Ren Zi
L Tourist Visa Liu Xin
D Resident Visa Din Ju
F Short-term Student or Business Assignment Visa Fan Wen
G Transit Visa Gwo Jin
X Long-term Student Visa Liu Xue

The Procedure

The Z Visa
Known commonly as the Work Visa for teaching in China. This is what you will need to be safely working as a recognized teacher in China. The requirements are first an invitation from your school, a copy of your diploma, a locally obtained health check for absence of HIV and drug use as well as TB. Your school will process these forms. You will either be delivered the Z Visa before arriving or you can arrive on a Tourist Visa and then they'll give it to you when they meet you. Its almost always good for an entire year. Getting the Z Visa, that's STEP#1 

     The Z Visa starts ticking from the day you have it in your hand and are in China. But, its only step #1. STEP#2 is the Resident Permit.

     The Resident Permit is the true meat & potatoes of teaching English in China. Known also as the Green Book it is applied for after you've gotten the Z Visa. It too is good for a year. The expiration date of the Resident Permit will demarcates your annual period as a Foreign Teacher. 

     The Z Visa serves just to get you into the country and working. It is the expiration date of the Permit that defines when you have to leave. You are allowed to stay beyond the Z Visa's dates, but not past the Resident Permit's. It supercedes your visa; this is somewhat contradictory, so some explanation here.

     Imagine you arrived on January 15th with your Z Visa. Therefore, when January 15th rolls around again, your visa's expired and its time to go. But, your school didn't receive your Resident Permit until March 15th. Despite your visa's having expired, it's the date of the Resident Permit which the PSB will look at. You'll still be legal. But, once that Z Visa does expire, begin to carry your Resident Permit with you. This Green Book, your Resident Permit, is transferable, should you change schools. The Resident Permit and Z Visa also can be issued in different forms, as a single-entry or a multiple re-entry. 

The Issues

The key issues regarding Z Visas & Resident Permits for teaching English in China revolve around an enduring debate: whether one can skip the delay of securing an invitation and getting the the Z Visa applied for first, OR if one should just arrive as a tourist with a Tourist visa, then scout around and see what jobs are where and which place you'd like to live before settling down. 

      The main merit of this landing-first method is manifest: it allows you to check the merchandise & investigate your surroundings before legally committing yourself to dwelling in and drawing from one particular corner of China for the next year. 

     The complications are more subtle. Remember, you're on a Tourist Visa. Even if you find your ideal school quickly, you won't have the right to start working until your Z Visa's been processed. While they are processing that, you are on the ground not working. And Tourist Visas are good for as few as 30 to only 90 days. Its likely that your Tourist Visa could expire before you get that Z Visa. If so, you'd have to leave for Hong Kong or Macao, reapply for a new Tourist Visa and return to continue your wait for your Z Visa. Even after that, your school might not be allowed to flip the Tourist Visa you have into your new Z Visa, which could send you to HK again.

     If you're interested in surveying, travel first as travel. Then, make your arrangements and pre-arrange the Z Visa. There is an enduring and earnest segment of the teachers here who have taken the other course. Its doable, but perilous. You'll be pressured soothingly to start working on that Tourist Visa. That's done, but its illegal. Such teachers would be at the mercy of their employer, a situation not missed by those who can utilize weakness. 

     Wouldn't it be better to start off with everything clear? Then, you could start asking for them to make it a choice multiple re-entry Z. Arriving with the Z Visa in hand can do that for you. 

The Other Visas
The Z Visa & Resident Permit formula is the basic recipie for teaching in China. What about the others? How are these visas used in teaching in and living in China? Let's look.

Z Working Visa Ren Zi
L Tourist Visa Liu Xin
D Resident Visas: usually for foreigners not working in China, often family of expats working in China Din Ju
F Short-term Student or Business Assignment Visas: An "F" Visa is issued for study stays of less than (6) months. Staying in China longer than 6 months requires a notarized health certificate. Fan Wen
G Transit Visas: For transit via the airport no Visa is required provided continuing to a third country within (24) hours with confirmed onward tickets and documents for the next country of destination. Passports are kept by the authorities during the transit stop and hotel stays outside the airport are allowed. Gwo Jin
X Long-term Student Visas are issued for a stays over (6) months and must include the "Physical Examination Record for Foreigner" form.  An original "JW202 or JW201" form issued by the "Ministry of Education of China" and a "Notice of Admission" from the host University is required for both Visas. Liu Xue



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