Is it okay to work full-time with a student visa as a ESL teacher?


My name is Jo, I recently graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Foreign Languages English and Spanish and I am currently living in France.
I am seeking for advice from any expat living in Ningbo or any other city that knows enough about the legal system in China.
So I was recently offered a job as a ESL teacher in Ningbo. I am planning on moving there as soon as I get a visa which I still haven't applied for because I am waiting for the school to send an invitation. What is worrying me is that the school mentioned something about not being able to apply for a work visa because I don't have two years of work experience and because I am not a native English speaker.  They said that a student visa will be just fine and that I will register for online mandarin classes just to have a student status, or something like that.
They also said that I am "allowed to work with a student visa but this only applies for part-time jobs, but it's okay if it's a full-time job ". Do you think it's safe to work full-time with a student visa?

Here's what they are offering:
Work hours: 40 hrs
Salary: 10000 rmb, no accommodation provided. A three months trial period with 20% off my salary, so basically I will be earning 8000 rmb.
Do you think it's enough for rent and all expenses, and basically just to live comfortably in Ningbo?

Overall, do you think this whole thing is too risky and a bad idea? I am worried because I don't want to get deported and/or get involved in anything illegal.

I would really appreciate your help, any additional information you provide is welcomed!
Thank you!

You are not first to be fooled into accepting such offer.
Legal risks are fine and deportation and even administrative detention for a few days.
Many schools don't have " proper license " to hire foreigners, I'm assuming they dont because  "not being a native English speaker" is one of the reason.  The offer is very low for a qualified ESL teacher. Living cost in Ningbo is not much cheaper than first tier cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. Standard pay for ESL teachers in small cities is 12k+accommodation + basic insurance +round trip back home. are you so desperate?!

I'd not recommend jeopardizing your future by accepting their offer!

Thank you for your reply!  Yeah this puts things into perpective and I thought 10000 was okay considering that other schools were offering way less.
And you are saying that I could get deported if I get caught, but is it because of the student visa ? If so, the solution is to get a work visa right?

I really appreciate you answer and thank you for your help.

Get some work experience in your home country or other countries then you are good to look for teaching jobs in chinese market. Your best bet are international schools and well established private schools.

Try to find an internship program through your school, or exchange student program, maybe just for a month or two to get a feeling. Working and living in China is not for everyone!
A fresh graduate from local Uni. with English major would expect at least RMB5000 NET per month plus other benefits!

Working on a student visa is risky because if the school gets a surprise visit by the government then both you and the school will be hit with a big fine and possibly deported as well.  If you get your TEFL then you can have the 2 years work experience waved

I am now hiring for a school in Liaoning, here is the situation in the northeast. The government changed the visa rules this past summer and are cracking down hard on improper foreign workers. My thinking is that they are trying to clean out the huge number of unskilled teachers who came here over the last twenty years just to come see China and drink cheap beer.

1. If you are on a student visa you cannot work. Period. Only those with a proper work (Z) visa can be employed.

2. If you are caught working on any other visa you can be deported immediately. They take you to your house, watch you pack, and take you to the airport. End of story. I know two people this has happened to this year, one was on a student visa and one was on a business visa.

3. If you do have a Z visa you can only work for the company that issued the visa. If you are caught teaching at a different company/school - see #2 above.

4. Some people do work on student visas but they have been here for a while and know the risks. Apparently it is worth it to them.

5. 10,000 a month is far too low for 40 hours and no accommodation. Our school (private international in a tier 2 city) pays 18,000 plus housing for far less hours. BUT, this is an expensive private school for "the elite" of our city. That salary is a little higher than normal.

Keep looking, this offer is for kids who want to "experience China" and don't know better.

Simply smashing to be working on your student visa. This will lead you to either be deported or be fined.  So better not.

Hi, may I ask you if those two years of work are required? And they have to be in exactly the same field of the job we are hired for in China?

I am agree with you totally you're right

You are being manipulated into working "under the table" at a low rate.  You are not from the USA, Britain, or Australia.  Therefore, you are considered a non-native speaker. Rates for non-native English speakers are low...this is regardless of how well you can speak English.

Non-English speakers in a first tier city is 3000 - 4000.  If you are in a second or third tier city it is even lower 1000-2000 RMB / month. Native speakers can make up to 20,000 RMB/month.

Secondly, to teach English you need an ESL diploma and a University Degree.  If you don't have them, you will not be able to apply for a "Expert Certificate".  Two years experience is also necessary, but if you can prove that you have experience, this can be waived.

Once you have an "expert certificate", you can then get a "Z-visa" so you can work.

If you want to work in China, then come to China on a tourist visa.  Then,  while here, go to each school and apply to work there.  Chances are that you will find a few that will offer you jobs on the spot.  Trying to get a position on the Internet is fraught with risks.  Many people have been scammed...

...including me.


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