Many recent graduates go on to teach in China without any formal teaching experience. You do not need to have any prior teaching experience to get a teaching job in China, so long as you have a 120hour TEFL certificate and a BA degree in any subject. Many schools in China now offer their own particular TEFL certificate free of charge, so it is often beneficial to find an appropriate school first and to see if they offer you a free TEFL course. It is important that if you do your own TEFL certificate either online or offline, that your certification should be 120hours or more, as this is the requirement for teaching in China stated by the Chinese government.
To work legally as an English teacher in China you need to have a ‘Z’ work visa. All of our partner schools are licensed to provide ‘Z’ work visas for their teachers and will assist you with the application paperwork, enabling you to then apply for your visa in your home country.
Notarisation – this is the attestation by a Notary Public that the signature appearing on the document is true and genuine. This is usually completed in the country where the document originates. This may also be in the form of a certification which is made by a solicitor as to the signatures made on a document.
Apostille – a Government Official in the country of origin has to declare the signature of the Notary Public or the Solicitor as true and genuine. Authentication declares that the Apostille is genuine prior to Legalisation. These are undertaken by a Home Office e.g, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or Department of State.
Legalisation – the Chinese Embassy can now declare and accept the signature, seal or stamp appearing on the document as genuine.
Only once you have authenticated your documents and sent these by scanned copy to your employer school can their HR Team begin to submit your work ‘z’ visa application to the Provincial Visa Office.
The above process can take up to 3 weeks, so please allow plenty of time.
Some employer schools will contribute towards the costs of the authentication process; if your employer details this in your employment contract, ensure you keep all receipts or invoices.
Make sure to check that the awarding institution of your document is the same as the country it is being authenticated in. For example; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK can only legalise Degrees, TEFL Certificates and Criminal Record Checks, awarded from UK institutions.
The notarization and legalisation process differs from country to country – see below a breakdown of document authentication for the U.K and U.S.A
The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for UK citizens.
It is important to note that although these are the most common documents needed for authentication, certain schools/ local visa offices may have different requirements. It is vital to double and triple check with your school’s HR department which documents need to be authenticated and if there is any specific wording needed or special requirements from the school for authentication.
Apply for a criminal record check here https://www.mygov.scot/disclosure-types/
Note that although the service is from ‘Disclosure Scotland’ an applicant can be from any part of the UK.
Arrange to have your Degree Certificate (and if required your TEFL certificate) notarised by a Solicitor or Public Notary in the UK. The Notary will make a copy of the document and attach a Letter of Attestation.
Prices vary depending on the service used.
Certify the original copy of your DBS check (no photocopies allowed). The document can be sent back to the issuing authority i.e Disclosure Scotland which will stamp it as a true document. If this is not an option, a solicitor or notary will be required to notarise in the same way as a degree certificate. Those using Disclosure Scotland, use the following link for direction on sending your document back: https://www.mygov.scot/get-disclosure-verified/
Visit Gov.uk and follow the instructions to send all notarised documents (Degree and TEFL Certificates and DBS check) to the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to asses if the documents are genuine; they will attach apostilles to the back of the Letters of Attestations and return via post. This should be done within a week. Ensure documents are sent via recorded/ signed for delivery.
*Note that the FCO will reject copies of the Criminal record check. The notorised document MUST be the original.
Once the apostilles and documents are returned by the FCO, all documents must be taken to the Chinese embassy to be legalised. It is important to note that there is no postal service for this section of the process. For more detailed information on their requirements, visit the Chinese Embassy’s website http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/lsfw/legalization/
Once documents are returned from the Chinese Embassy, send copies to your employer school via email. Their HR Team can then submit a work z visa application to the Provincial Visa Office. Typically, around 4 weeks later the Provincial Visa Office issue a work permit and invitation letter; this will be sent to you via email.
Only now can you submit a z visa application at the London, Manchester or Edinburgh Visa for China centre.
Following the guidelines on the Visa for China website using the Z visa category, prepare all required documents. You will need to book an appointment if applying in person in London. There is also a postal service available. The standard visa takes 4 working days and can be tracked online.
Once processed, the visa will take the form of a physical sticker in your passport.
The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for US citizens.
It is important to note that although these are the most common documents needed for authentication, certain schools/ local visa offices may have different requirements. It is vital to double and triple check with your school’s HR department which documents need to be authenticated.
Attain a No Criminal Record Check from the relevant authority.
In the US, checks can be made at State level or Federal level. Check with your employer what their requirement is.
If a local or state level check is required you can go on your home State website or contact the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and request a form stating evidence of no criminal history.
As an example, in Virginia the website is as follows: http://www.vsp.state.va.us/CJIS_Criminal_Record_Check.shtm
If the Federal background check is required, you will need to apply for an FBI background check. Bare in mind this can take 8-10 weeks to complete.
Ensure this document is signed by the issuing authority.
Have your degree certificate and TEFL certificate (if required) notorized by a public notary, in the state it was issued.
All documents must be further authenticated to the Secretary of State in the your Home State, with an appropriate seal, signature, and easily recognised wording.
Department of State Document Authentication page:
When you submit the document to Secretary of your State, indicate the document will be used in China, to ensure it is worded and laid out correctly.
You can find a list of State Authentication Offices here http://www.visarite.com/authentication_sample.htm#office
Complete the Application Form of Notarization/Legalisation of the Embassy/Consulate of the People’s Republic of China- http://www.visarite.com/images/authentication/G1.pdf
This must be submitted to the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate (usually in person, or by a nominated person/ agent) in addition to all notorised and legalised documents, for the final authentication seal and signature to be added.
Once documents are returned from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate, send copies to your employer school via email. Their HR Team can then submit a work z visa application to the Provincial Visa Office. Typically, around 4 weeks later the Provincial Visa Office issue a Work Permit and Invitation Letter; this will be sent to you in your home country via courier.
Once the Invitation Letter and Work Permit are returned from China you must make a Z visa application at your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Complete the Z visa application form-http://www.china-embassy.org/chn/lszj/bgxz/P020130830121570742708.pdf
Bring the completed form, along with your Invitation Letter, Work Permit, Passport and any other specified documents to the Embassy or Consulate. The regular processing time is 4 business days with an express service, processing the documents in 2-3 business days.
Visit he Chinese Embassy’s website for more information- http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/
Of course full assistance and further guidance will be provided by TipTop ESL ltd.