Everyone is very concerned about what type of visa that is required to work in China.
There is ONLY one legally type of visa to work in China and it is titled “Residence Permit For Foreigners in The People’s Republic of China”
OK. Hold on before you start to comment. In lower right hand side of the visa there is a “Purpose of Residence” area. This is where it says if you can work etc.
So now let’s move forward about visas.
The most common type of visa that most of you will have when you travel to China is the “L” or tourist visa. This is issued for a period of 30-90 days. This allows you to enter China and travel around. It does NOT allow you to teach.
There is the “F” or business visa. This allows you to enter and leave China for business purposes. This does NOT allow you to teach.
There is a “Z” visa. This visa is issued to a future employee who has been sponsored by a future employer in China for the purpose of working in China. It is ONLY a one time entry travel document and does not enable you to work. Once you arrive in China you will be required to sign an employment contract, take a physical and apply for an “Alien Employment Permit”. This permit is issued to you by the local Labor Bureau. Using this permit you will then be issued your Residence Permit. It is illegal to travel here using a Z visa which has been issued by employer A and then sign a contract with employer B. Residence permits are NOT transferable from one employer to another. If you wish to get another job, your new employer will be required to apply for a new residence permit. If you arrive in China with an “L” visa and your employer will apply for your permit through the labor bureau you will be required to leave the country to get a “Z” visa and then follow the process to get your Residence Permit.
There is also a permit that is issued by the local Educational Bureau. This permit is referred to as “Expert Certificate”. This in fact certifies you as a teaching expert and will enable you to get your Residence Permit. This certificate is issued in-country and you will not be required to leave China.
Let me make something perfectly clear. There are NO unified requirements for the above permits. Each province and in fact in some cases each city have their own requirements for the issuing of the above permits. Each Labor and Educational Bureau had their own criteria for the issuing of these documents. Also you may be issued an expert certificate in a second tier city and if you come to a first tier city may not meet their requirements and will be unable to get a job. Example some regions in China will allow you to legally work with only a TEFL certificate, but Shanghai for example requires a university degree and two years full time teaching experience after university graduation.
There are also age criteria for working in China. These restrictions again are set by local bureaus, so make sure you know what the LOCAL law is before you jump on a plane to teach in China.
Around 2007 or 2008 there was a teacher who had signed a contract for employment and arrived in Shanghai to start their job. At that time the requirements to obtain An Expert Certificate where degree + TEFL. The school applied for their certificate but it was denied. When the school asked the reason they were told that now two years teaching experience was required. Now this was October the law was put in effect Oct 1st, but was retroactive to July 1st. After some long wrangling the teachers certificate was approved.
The Visa issue should be you main concern. Most all of the name brand schools will have no problems. But the Mom and Pop schools in the middle of nowhere will certainly have a problem. So do your research.