Updated last year

China offers opportunities not only for seasoned professionals and businessmen, but also those wishing to acquire new skills. Whether you are eager to take a short Chinese language course or enrol in a full-time study program at one of the country’s famous universities, here are a few guidelines on the steps you have to follow.

In order to study in China, you will need to apply for a Student Visa. There are currently two types of student visas issued to foreigners: X1 is issued to those who plan to enrol in study programs longer than 6 months and X2 is issued to those staying for a period of less than 6 months.

How to apply for a Student Visa

You can submit your visa application together with the supporting documents at the Chinese VISA Application Service Centre or at the Chinese Consulate or Embassy in your home country.

First, make sure that the education establishment you are applying to has the right to offer courses to foreign nationals. If your application is successful, the establishment will send you an admission letter as well as JW201 or JW202 form to complete. These documents will need to be submitted together with your application at the Embassy. You will also need to present the following supporting documents:

  • Original passport valid for at least six months;
  • passport-size photograph;
  • copy of the acceptance letter (together with the original);
  • proof of legal status in the country you are applying from; and
  • evidence of your flights and arranged accommodation.

For post-graduate education programs, you will also be asked to present photocopies of your diplomas and academic transcripts, translated into Chinese.

Once your visa is approved, you will need to take a series of medical examinations. Depending on the educational establishment you plan to study at, you may be asked to do the medical check in your home country or upon arrival in China. It is usually recommended to do the medical check once you arrive in China, in order to make sure it's completed in the right format. Moreover, some universities may arrange for groups of students to go through the check together. Your medical certificate is valid for 6 months

Those with an X1 Visa will need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit within 30 days upon arriving in China. The permit is typically issued for the minimum period of 6 months and the maximum of 5 years.

Some Chinese universities offer tuition in English. However, if you wish to take multidisciplinary courses in Chinese, you must pass the international test of Mandarin, also known as HSK. Sessions of examination for the HSK are held both in China and in many different countries. For HSK examination dates in your area, please refer to the Chinese Consulate or Embassy in your country.

Scholarship schemes are available to foreign students in China. Please contact your home university, the embassy or consulate of China or the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to find out more information about government-sponsored programmes and scholarships available.


You are not allowed to work on a Student Visa. Internship options may be available (check with your school/university) as well as volunteering.

The list of required documents may vary depending on your country of residence and the study program you are applying for. Contact your Chinese Embassy for an updated list of required documents prior to the appointment.


If you intend to take an internship in a Chinese company for a period of less than 6 months, you need to apply for an "F" visa at the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country.

The documents checklist includes:

  • An invitation letter issued by the Chinese company and certified by the Chinese government;
  • an internship agreement signed with the company;
  • your original passport;
  • a completed visa application;
  • JW 201/ JW 202 forms issued by the Chinese ministry of education; and
  • several passport-sized photos

Please note that fees apply.

Upon arrival in China, contact your host institution to register and obtain information about how to apply for a temporary residence permit. 

 Useful links:

China Scholarship Coucil (CSC)
Peking University
Shanghai University
Harbin University
Shenzhen University
Guangzhou University

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.