foreign expert /z1 visa requirements

I desperately need an answer to my following question - have been searching the internet like crazy but the only way to get an answer is if someone living there at the moment  can assist.

Myself and a friend want to go to teach English in Shanghai.

Both my friend and I taught English in Taiwan.  I have a degree and my friend does not. He has 7 years teaching experience though.

Is it possible that he can teach in Shanghai legally without a degree ? Like for example study for a Tefl or Celta course and get a Z1 visa that way - or do you need a degree to get a z1 visa?

Thank you so much for your time and response.  :)

Hello Eninage,

I invite you to check out our guide to Professional visas in china, this might help.

Welcome to  :)




as i know, you need to have degree to get visa.

There are many organizations need Foreigner English teacher, such as Xingdongfang,Daishi and etc.
You may try this.


Thanks for the info ! :)

Technically, a degree is required.  But laws in China are generally enforced arbitrarily.  It is very possible to get a work visa without a degree but by no means guaranteed.  Once you have the visa, you can work legally.  TEFL certificates are largely irrelevant without a degree.

Shanghai is not the ideal location as schools there are more likely to follow the rules and/or come under scrutiny from government officials.  You can teach at schools in smaller cities without even graduating primary school.


Thank you for your up to date and very informative response - exactly what I needed ! There are so many outdated sites regarding all the information you need to move there ! Refreshing to find a site that actually has people who are willing to part with up to date info !

There are a lot of school (kindergarden/training/elementary) don't even require degree or cert to teach english, if you are native english speaker.

I think U need degree

Hi, here is a reputable site with lots of information and warnings. Very insightful and needed to read
Please inbox me if you like, we can talk some more. I'm also from South Africa, but already teaching in China

To get a work visa you need (officially) a degree, at least 2 yrs relevant work experience, a medical, a non-criminal check, and an employer.

To teach English you do not need a TEFL/TESL/similar, but more and more schools are asking for it.

Many local schools in China care more about skin-colour and nationality than a TEFL/TESL/similar qualification.

SAFEA (The Chinese State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) runs a TEFL course which is accepted in China - Info here   The site says a Degree is needed BUT if your friend already has 7 years provable teaching experience maybe (?) maybe they will accept him/her. Might be an idea to contact them.

It is kinda unfair that you also need to be a native English speaker to get a Z visa to teach. I would like to teach science in english and they always saying: if you're not a native english speaker we can't get you a Z visa