Business and work visa to China

Chinese visa
Updated 2022-09-17 20:22

Getting a professional visa for China — especially a work visa — has never been particularly easy. And following the COVID-19 pandemic, the regulations for applying for a work permit in China have only got stricter. Here's what you need to know.


Currently, to travel to China you will need to present an Electronic Health Declaration QR code, a vaccination certificate and antibody tests. You will then need to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Note that in some provinces, this may be extended to 21 days or even more. You will also need to fly to China via a direct flight — with no layovers in other countries. And, of course, you will also need a valid entry visa or residence permit.

Please note that as entry requirements for China are constantly changing, it's important that you inquire with your local Chinese embassy or consulate for the latest information on entry regulations.

What are the types of professional visas for China?

As the world's biggest manufacturer and exporter, China offers a bounty of work opportunities for expats, be it working in a company or setting up one of your own. If you are moving to China for work or business, you will need a professional visa. There are currently several types of professional visas issued to foreigners, depending on the purpose of your visit or stay.

The two main options are a business visa (M visa) and a working visa (Z visa). M Visa is a business visa meant for visits and consultations for those who are doing business with Chinese companies. Z visas, on the other hand, are granted to those who intend to be employed in China — obtaining a Z visa is the only way to work and receive a salary in China legally. To apply for a work visa, you will first need to secure a job offer — we will get into this in more detail below.

Business visa (M visa)

M visa is issued to those who visit China to get involved in commercial and trade activity. This includes attending business fairs and exhibitions, meeting with clients and suppliers, signing contracts, negotiating business activities, etc. The duration of stay on a business visa is typically limited to either 30 or 60 days and can be issued for single or multiple entries.

You can apply for a business visa to China at your local Embassy or Consulate and will need to submit the following:

  • A passport valid for at least six months and with at least two blank pages;
  • Two photos with a blue background sized 4.5cm x 3.5cm;
  • An invitation letter from either a trade fair you will be attending (like Canton Fair) or a registered Chinese company;
  • A copy of the Chinese firm's business license (in case you are receiving an invitation from a Chinese company);
  • Your company's information with its name and contact details (your business card would do)

Good to know:

You can also apply for a business visa through a travel agency. In this case, they will probably be taking care of your invitation.

Note that you can also apply for a Chinese business visa in Hong Kong. The following criteria apply:

  • You must have at least two Chinese visas issued outside of China already in your passport
  • At least one of the previously issued visas must have been issued in your country of origin
  • The business visa is primarily intended for conducting business activity in China and does not give one the right to seek employment in the country. If you plan to work in China, you will need to apply for a work visa.


Under current entry regulations, in most cases, you won't be able to travel to China on a business visa. To ether the country post-pandemic, you need a valid residence permit. However, entry regulations are constantly being adjusted, so make sure to check with a Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country regarding your options.

Work visa (Z visa)

As we've mentioned above, Z visa is the only visa that allows you to work in China legally. You may get offers to work in China part-time or even full-time without proper documentation — in fact, these are quite common. However, working in China illegally comes with serious consequences: from heavy fines to deportation and a ban from entering the country.

The first thing you will need to apply for a work visa in China is to get a valid job offer from an employer who will sponsor your visa application. There are several requirements your employer will need to fulfill to sponsor your work visa. This is why it is essential that you check with the company interested in hiring you whether they can fulfill these requirements and provide you with a work permit.

Applying for a Z visa consists of three steps:

  • You will need to get a work permit
  • Then you'll need to receive a PU a letter
  • Finally, you can apply for the visa itself.

Let's explore this in a bit more detail.

First, let's take a look at the eligibility requirements for a Z visa. A work visa applicant must:

  • Be between 18 and 55 years old
  • Have a Bachelor's degree
  • Have TEFL certification and from 100 to 120 hours of teaching experience (when applying for a teaching position)

Note that depending on your line of work, there may be additional eligibility requirements relevant to your specific position.

Note as well that work visas in China are classified into three categories:

  • Class A (high-level talent)
  • Class B (professional personnel)
  • And Class C (non-technical and service workers hired for seasonal/temporary projects).

The eligibility requirements may differ depending on the class of the working visa you are applying for.

As we've mentioned above, applying for a work visa in China is a multi-step process. Here's an approximate list of documents you may need throughout this process:

  • A passport valid for at least six months and with at least three blank pages
  • Copies of some or all pages of your passport
  • Copy of your Bachelor's Degree, TEFL degree (when applying for a teaching job) and proof of other relevant qualifications. All of these should be translated into Chinese and authenticated.
  • Ten passport-size photos taken according to the current visa photo requirements
  • qualifications, authenticated and notarized
  • Job invitation letter from your new employer
  • Proof of a clear criminal record
  • Duly filled in Z visa application form
  • Any additional documents that may be requested in your case.

Once again, the exact list of documents you will need varies on your specific situation. As some of these documents may take some time to procure, make sure you check with your employer as well as a Chinese embassy or consulate about the full list of documents you need to apply.

Now, let's go over your work visa application process.

First, you will need to secure a job offer. Having a valid work contract is essential for applying for a work visa in China. There are lots of resources you can use in your job hunt: from online platforms to professional recruitment agencies. For more information, check out our articles on working in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Suzhou, Tianjin, Jinan and Xiamen.

Once you have secured a work contract, you will need to ask your employer to send you an official invitation (work permit notice) to come and work for them. You will need the following documents:

  • a passport copy
  • a copy of relevant qualifications
  • two passport-size photos
  • criminal background check certificate.

Next, you may need to get a PU letter. A PU letter is an invitation that is issued by the China Foreign Affairs Office. This letter confirms that you have officially been approved to apply for a work permit.

However, you may also not need the PU letter in your application.

The PU letter was scrapped from the work visa application process a few years ago and then reintroduced during the pandemic. However, the letter requirement has been waived recently for certain visa types and nationalities.

As of June 15, 2022, the simplified visa application process has been announced for the following countries: the United States, Austria, Croatia, Czech, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and South Korea.

As the related requirements change frequently, make sure to check with your local Chinese embassy or consulate whether you need a PU letter to apply for a work visa.

If you do need to apply for a PU letter, this will actually be the responsibility of your employer. The only thing you will need to do is provide your employer with your work permit notice, which they will use to apply for the PU letter.

Getting a PU letter can be tricky and may add quite a bit of time to your application process. This is because Chinese companies need to apply for a permit to hire foreign nationals — and not all companies can be granted this permit.

Good to know:

Some companies may still advertise their job offers even if they can't provide you with a PU letter. This is mainly because they may be hoping that the PU letter requirement will be waived in your case. For instance, if you are currently holding a valid work permit in China, you won't need a PU letter. Make sure you ask the company you want to work for whether they can provide you with a PU letter.

After you've received your PU letter, you will need to apply for your work visa. You will need to submit your application at your nearest embassy or consulate in China. Note that you will need to make an appointment first.

Here are the steps to take:

Prepare your online visa application form

Book an appointment at a Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.

Note that it may take up to a month for you to get an appointment to apply for a work visa.

Once you've received your work visa, make sure to check it carefully. Mix-ups happen, and you may find that your name is misspelled or that you've been given the wrong type of visa. Thus, it's essential that you check all the information on your visa upon receiving it: your name, type of visa, entry date, length of stay, etc.

Moving to China on a work visa

Once you've received your work visa, you can go ahead and start planning your trip to China. However, once you are in the country, there are still a few things that you will need to sort out.

Before the pandemic, after you arrived in China, you would have 30 days to receive a residence permit based on your Z visa. Currently, you are allowed between 60 to 180 days to apply for a residence permit — check the validity of your visa to see how many days you have.


A Z visa allows you to travel to China and stay in the country — but only for a limited amount of time. It is essential that you start your residence permit application process as soon as you arrive in China to make sure you complete your application in time.

A work visa is the only way to work legally in China. However, if you just want to travel to the country first, you have more visa options.

Useful links:

China Visa Application Center

The State Council of the People's Republic of China

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.