Document Preparation for a Job in China

Starting about a year ago, China added more requirements to make sure that all teachers coming to China to work had authentic documents instead of fakes. Unfortunately, this means that you will need to spend money, time and patience on the following steps. This is time consuming and you may have to repeat some steps if you make a mistake so start now and just plod through it.

  1. Passport: Obviously, you need a CURRENT PASSPORT that doesn’t expire anytime soon. If you don’t have one, go to your local drug store like Walgreens or CVS and get several passport photos. Then, pick up a passport application from your post office or online. You’ll need to show proof of who you are using an original birth certificate and driver’s license. The details for US citizens are
  2. Police Clearance: Get a police clearance report which is also called a background check or a non-criminal record. This can usually be obtained from your local police station but the procedure is different in some states such as New York. Your report must show that that your record is clear. For example, even if you had a DUI years ago, you must get it expunged (removed from your record) in order to teach in China. Don’t hop in your car yet though because you NEED to read the rest of this document regarding authentication procedures first.You need your police clearance on police department letterhead, preferably with a stamp or seal. It needs to look official.  The letter can NOT be one that you printed out online by yourself. Your background check doesn’t need to include fingerprints or be from the FBI or state police so don’t waste your time or money on that.Now you must get your police clearance AUTHENTICATED.  Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process but it must be done. If you’re in the US, the easiest way to do this is through using a visa service like If you’re not in the US, please call your nearest Chinese Consulate or Embassy to ask them how to get your degree authenticated. The authentication process is complicated, has multiple steps and differs from state to state so follow the instructions of VisaRite’s website very carefully and email them if you have questions. For super-organized, detail-oriented people, I’ve seen them complete the authentication steps in 14 days, but it takes longer for most people.
  3. College or High School Diploma: If you have a 4-year college degree or greater, you must get your bachelor’s degree diploma or transcript showing your graduated AUTHENTICATED.  If you don’t have the college degree, you need to get your high school diploma AUTHENTICATED. If you’re in the US, the easiest way to do this is through using a visa service like If you’re not in the US, please call your nearest Chinese Consulate or Embassy to ask them how to get your degree authenticated.
  4. TEFL / TESOL Certificate (optional): Depending on what city you’ll be working in and if you have a bachelor’s degree in educcation or a teaching certificate, you may need to get training that then issues you a 120-hr TEFL Certficate. Your school might need you to get this AUTHENTICATED so ask them. As mentioned before, can assist you with this.
  5. Work Reference Letters (optional): Depending on what city you’ll be working in and if you have a TEFL certification or bachelor’s degree in education, you might need to get one or more reference letters saying that you’ve worked for at least 2 years since graduating from high school. Ask your school if you need them and if they need to be authenticated. If your school says you need them but you can’t get them, then ask your school if you can take the official TEFL in China 7-day in-person training course in Beijing or another big city. You school might say yes if you cover the cost or they might offer to reimburse you for the cost.Preferably the reference letter (letters) will be for teaching related jobs. For these work reference letters, longer is better. Each letter should say how long you worked for the company and what you did. If possible, mention any training or teaching that you did as part of your job. Try to get and attach the business cards of the people who sign the work reference letters. At a minimum, the letters should at least be on the employer’s letterhead so they look more formal. You must bring the ORIGINAL work reference letters to China.
  6. Next Steps: Scan or photograph the above documents with the authentication documents and email them to your school and ask them if they need anything else from you. In some cities in China, all these docs must be in the hands of your school before they can apply for your Z work visa. In other cities, you can send your un-authenticated docs to your school as long as you bring the authenticated docs with you to China. Ask your school how it’s done in their city.If you are going to work for ForeignerHR, email them to Annette. Annette will send them to ForeignerHR in China so they can make sure they look good enough. Once ForeignerHR has said they look good and Annette has given you the ok, she’ll email you ForeignerHR’s invitation letter to take to your nearest Chinese consulate so you can apply for an M business visa. Before going to the consulate, fill out the China visa application form using Adobe Acrobat and then print it. DO NOT FILL IN THE VISA FORM BY HAND. The Chinese consulate will charge you $140 and it will take 4-7 days to process your visa. If you live far from the nearest consulate, you can hire a visa processing company to hand-deliver your visa application but YOU CAN NOT MAIL YOUR APPLICATION TO THE CONSULATE. After you have the visa, tell Annette and THEN book your one-way plane ticket to Beijing. Send Annette your flight itinerary so she can tell ForeignerHR when to meet you in China.