Working visa China

The Chinese work visa is a topic regularly discussed on forums, blogs and specialized sites. Many companies, and especially their employees are seeking this famous work visa to go to China. In this article, I will focus on the procedure for obtaining a work visa (called Z visa) for French people and then I will make a comparison with these procedures being in place in other countries like Japan and the United States. In a third step, I will give my brief analysis of the immigration policy in China, and what impact it may have on obtaining the work visa.

• What is the work visa (Z visa)?          

According to the website of the Chinese Embassy in Francethe work visa “is issued to foreigners and members of their families accompanying them to come to work or hold a position in China, to give commercial performances or participate in projects of assistance and cooperation.» The work visa is for both profit-driven businesses, non-profit or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Despite some rumors that the difficulty of obtaining work visas for non-profit associations or NGOs has increased, yet there is a very large number of NGOs in China, and in all the provinces. This shows that China welcomes international associations, including French ones on its territory. There are more than 11 French associations present on the Chinese territory (such as “Couleurs de Chine” or “Médecins sans Frontières”): in these cases, it seems that the process of obtaining a work visa is easier.

• But just how do you get a work visa (Z visa)?

There are some very simple documents required for any type of visa:

- Passport with two blank pages of any entry, which must be valid for at least six months from the date of the application

- A visa application form to fill out (available on the website of the Embassy of China) with a passport photo (color)

- The “Medical Examinations for foreigners” in case of  a stay longer than six months

- The family members who accompany the employee or the employer over the age of 18 must provide a medical certificate issued by a French hospital

Note that the Embassy can refuse the visa if the applicant makes use of false or incomplete information, or if his handwriting is illegible … I do not know to this day people who were denied the visa because his handwriting was illegible. If this case happened, please kindly inform me…

For the moment, nothing seems insurmountable. Where complications occur, these are the documents required depending on the sector of activity of the candidate. Some examples from the website of the Embassy of China:

- Foreigners coming to work in the offshore oil drilling should provide the “Letter of invitation to foreign operations offshore oil drilling in the People’s Republic of China” issued by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation

- Foreigners who come to China for a volunteer and those who receive remuneration from an organization based abroad (experts, volunteers and people working for a charity)

- The foreign personnel of foreign cultural centers must provide a “letter of confirmation of appointment as foreign worker by the accreditation status” issued by the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and a letter of invitation.


- The applicant for a work visa, whose the situation does not correspond to the cases mentioned above, must provide: 1) “Work permits for foreigners in the Republic of China” issued by the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Protection and 2) the original of the invitation of the visa issued by the competent Chinese organization.

Briefly, the procedure for obtaining a work visa requires patience (which it seems, is a Chinese virtue) and courage.

To have a summary on how to obtain your working visa, have a look on this article : Get your Z visa in 5 steps.


• What about the other nationalities?

You should also know that if the procedure for obtaining a work visa covers the main points mentioned above, there are some specifics related to the country of application. In France, there are some specificities that are not applied to other countries. Indeed, it is increasingly requested for the work visa (also applicable to the tourist visa or the visa to visit family):

- Airline tickets round trip

- International certificate of insurance (care / repatriation valid during your stay in China)

- Certificate of employment or proof of income (statement of last 3 months) or certificate of education (for students over 18 )

In the United States of America, the procedure for obtaining this work does not differ, except on these criteria:

- The temporary foreign visitors or foreign residents with a valid U.S. visa can apply for a Chinese visa by giving a photocopy and the original of the American Green Card.

- Candidates applying for the first time whose former nationality was Chinese, shall write his Chinese name in the application form and submit his original Chinese passport and the photocopy of the information page of the passport.

- The applicant who was formerly Chinese and has acquired a new U.S. passport, and if there is a Chinese visa in the old passport, shall submit his old U.S. passport or the photocopy of the Chinese visa.

For Asian countries, there are bilateral agreements that exempt from tourism and trade visa in a maximum of 15 days, that is to say that people from Japan, Brunei and Singapore can work or be hired by a company to a maximum of 15 days without needing a work visa. However, once this time has elapsed, they must apply.

• What is the immigration policy of the Chinese government vis-à-vis foreigners who wish to work in China?

In recent years, although the procedure for obtaining a work visa has been more complicated, it is mainly the result of an increased immigration policy. An article in the pro-government newspaper “People’s Daily” said that “it is time to control illegal immigration of foreigners.” This article comes after several incidents involving foreigners who have awakened Chinese nationalism. These incidents were widely publicized indeed, whether it be on the local television channel, national or social networks like Sina Weibo. The case of the Englishman who violates a Chinese in Beijing, this Russian refusing to remove his feet from the front seat on a train between Beijing and Shenyang or these Koreans hitting a female Chinese in a KFC in Chengdu stirs Chinese nationalism. In return, the government is using this propaganda to “hunt” illegal foreign workers (those who work without a work visa) and reinforces the conditions of accessing work visa.

Note, however, – remain a bit optimistic-, that there is a Chinese “Green Card” that is the equivalent of a permanent residence permit, established since 2004. The Ministry of Public Security said that “high-level foreigners or important foreign direct investments” may request permanent resident status and in case of success, live in the country indefinitely.


For the Chinese government, it is a significant step forward to “adapt to economic globalization and advance the reform and modernization of socialism still further, and normalize the regulation of examination and the Approval of Permanent Residence of Aliens in China. »

In contrast to the Chinese household registration (the hukou), which sets strict limits on the migration of farmers to cities and from one place to another, the system of green card has no limits for foreigners seeking work and housing in China. The stranger can go to work in Gansu or in the Guangdong province.

Also note that the permanent residence permit is valid for five or 10 years. Since the implementation of the law on the entry and exit controls of the territory in 1985, China has already approved permanent residence permits for over 5,000 foreigners, facilitating research work for the people concerned.

The work visa in China is probably the most difficult visa to obtain and also depends on the international and domestic political situation in China.

INS Global Consulting, through its experience of caring work visa, can greatly facilitate the task if you decide to go working in China.

(Source : Chine informations)

Another interesting article :

For more information on INS Global Consulting Services, click on this link: http://www.ins-globalconsulting.com/Services and for contacting us, write us at weihsu@ins-globalconsulting.com.

Wei Hsu

1 comment

  1. majid equbal

    dear sir,

    I am majid from india.currently i have M type visa 30 day stay in china.i want to know that can i get a working visa inside china without go to india ,what is the process please suggest me .
    if i unable to get working visa in china , how can i get working for for china in india what is the important documents. my chinese company want to provide a job in china so please suggest me as soon as possible.

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