Well it’s finally happened.

The fears over China getting stricter about work visas (Z) were not without basis. I’ve been working in China now for almost 7 years and have never had problems with work, my bachelor’s degree, or any of the other requirements all these years. Looks like that might change for me and many others. Here’s why.

The new regulations or requirements to get work visas require government approval of your degree. In the past, proof of a degree was enough. Now they want to be sure that your degree is genuine. Not that this is an unreasonable request, as many people were undoubtedly using bogus degrees. However, not even all legitimate degrees are accepted now. Since only they know which schools and degrees are acceptable, I can’t tell you exactly what they want or expect. The best thing you can do is check with the school you attended to get the degree or the school you intend to work for. If you’re already working in China on a bachelors or higher degree you should be ok.

But there’s more. I just started a new job, and they are in the process of trying to get my visa. Here are the documents they requested:

original passport

educational background proof (transcripts?)

certificate of proof of more than 2 years of work experience

proof of bachelors degree

no criminal record certificate

certified marriage certificate (if married)

passport size photos

medical exam report

Seven years ago it was just the passport, med report, and degree. The medical exam report is easily gotten here in China. You just have to go to a specific clinic, pay a few hundred RMB, and go through a series of simple tests. A few days later they give you a little booklet showing the results. If you want to know about the other things, you can read my earlier blog about visas entitled, “Chinese Visas and Other Important Documents.”

The only thing not listed in my other blog is the ‘proof of 2 years working’ document. That might be a problem for many. You have to be able to prove you have two years work experience before they will let you work here. If you’re already here and don’t have the experience, that could be a problem. I’ve been here almost 7 years and have worked all over, at many schools. I know many expats have done the same. Getting these proofs from multiple locations can prove to be a problem, or a time-consuming challenge at the least. If you’re at a job that can give you this proof and you’re getting near the two year mark but are thinking of quitting, I recommend considering enduring till the two years is up and getting that certificate, especially if you plan to stay and work in China.

I’m sorry I can’t give more details about this. Getting accurate information around here is like trying to catch an ever changing wind. What I’ve stated here is accurate, for the moment. But each person’s intended workplace, previous schooling, and other details are so varied that I couldn’t possibly comment accurately on any other details or what the situation might be tomorrow.

Just a note of warning in relation to all of this. In the past many of us came to China on a tourist visa and then looked for a place to work in the city we intended to live in. This was the recommended route at that time. Finding reliable info about schools and what they offered and required through the internet often led people to move to China and find things were not as expected. Nowdays, with these newer requirements, it might be best to get assurance of your visa before moving, as you might arrive and find you are not able to work, if that is your intention.

It’s all rather unfortunate that things are getting stricter. Finding good English and other language teachers to fill the still very high demand in China is already very difficult. I get calls from schools and others wanting me to teach all the time. This increased strictness is only going to add to the problem. Undoubtedly it will also increase the amount of people working illegally and the amount of schools who are willing to take a risk on hiring teachers who are good but can’t meet the ever stricter employment rules.

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