Visa Matters| 3 min read

It’s easy to fall in love with China during just a short visit. Many people, following their internships in China, choose to take their new found knowledge and experience to the next step, which is applying for fulltime work in China.

An internship through ImmerQi is bound to lead you towards finding yourself a career, and this could very well be within China. When looking for work independently, some foreigners encounter serious legal problems with the Chinese government because they either work in China on tourist or other non-Z visas, or they accept part-time employment or private work without obtaining the proper permission.

Violation of Chinese laws can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines of up to 500 RMB a day for overstaying a visa, or deportation.  It is your responsibility to understand local laws and obey them.

Employment Visas

If you wish to work legally in China, a “Z” Visa from a Chinese embassy or consulate is required. The Z visa is the only valid work visa.   Sponsorship from an employer is needed in order to obtain a Z visa.  They are typically valid for one year, and you may renew it in China with the appropriate application materials (for further details see www.bjgaj.gov.cn). The Z visa is available in both single-entry and multiple-entry forms.

Some prospective employees enter China on tourist visas before formally committing to a position.  Should you do this, after finding a position you will need to obtain the sponsorship documents necessary to receive a Z visa; however, you may have to leave the country in order to be in China on a Z visa.

In some cases the potential employer will promise to help obtain the Z visa in China.  The employer will take your passport during this process, leaving you without a passport for a potentially lengthy period.  The length of time it takes to obtain a Z visa in China varies by region.  In Beijing the process generally takes five business days.  You can check with the local Public Security Bureau for the normal length of time it takes to process a Z visa application in other locations.

Institutions that take passports for a lengthy period may be trying to obtain visas through illegal means and should be avoided.  Until a valid Z visa is issued it is illegal to work, even though a school or company might apply pressure to do so during this period.

Prospective employees planning to enter China on tourist visas should also be aware that tourist visas are generally valid for only 30-90 days.  If the necessary documents are not obtained before the tourist visa expires, you are required to leave the country

Further information on obtaining a Z visa and a complete list of required documents should be available on the website of the Chinese Embassy to your home country.  Also, ImmerQi staff are quite knowledgeable on the matter, so feel free to ask!

Rachel Yoon

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