New rule pertaining to Chinese work visa...diploma stamp

I am not sure how many of you are aware of the new rules that China has put in place in regard to getting a work visa.  Things began to change nearly 2 years ago but the latest wrinkle caught our company by surprise.  If you are changing companies (you currently work in China and you want to continue to work in China) you may face this problem.

You must now have a Chinese stamp on your diploma to certify that the Chinese government recognizes that your diploma is real.  At first they were telling everyone that you had to fly back to your country of origin and do this but now they have a link on-line you can use. must read Chinese to use the link (really!)
Diploma of University List Can Be Authenticated in China
The website is called Visa of China but I had some issues using it.  Go to the top link instead and use the link they provide in the article which will give you more info.

In a nutshell, you can do this procedure while in China if you currently hold a work visa.  You will pay 385 RMB to do it.  So far I'm in the process of getting mine done and not sure how long it will take.  It took a Chinese co-worker and me 2 hours to fill out the forms on-line.  You must upload documents to the company that does it.  Then they do the research and get your diploma stamped by the Chinese government.  YOU MUST HAVE THIS STAMP NOW.  If you are planning on working in China you must go to the embassy closest to where you live and get it done there before they will issue you the letter of invite.

There are several documents now that require Chinese stamps, diplomas are the most important, next TEFL or TESOL, then Criminal Background Checks, and finally (and this one depends on where you plan to work) the Health Check.  If you are married and your spouse will be on a spousal visa get the marriage certificate stamped too.  It's just a precaution because things here can change without notice.

We didn't realize this was going to be a problem until one of our former employees wanted to change employers.  One more thing, give yourself time to get these things done.  Where it once took about 2 months to get a new hire to China, it is now taking 4 to 6 months with many more hoops to jump. 

Finally, please keep in mind that the days when all you had to do was speak English and be breathing to teach English in China are over.  You must now be from one of the "6" Native speaking countries, USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, NZ or Australia, you will need to do this process from your country of can no longer get a work visa from any other location.  You must have a BA, TEFL or TESOL and soon they are going to require 2 years of teaching experience.  This means non-Native speakers may not be hired legally.  It hasn't stopped some employers but please be careful.  Recently in Changchun, Jilin Province, China 50 college kids from South Africa were arrested for teaching illegally and sent home.  They didn't know they were not on a legal visa.

You can not change a student visa into a work visa NO MATTER what anyone tells can only change a work visa to another work visa...all other visas must be processed from country of origin.  If caught working on the wrong type of visa you will be fined and deported, don't do it.

I will try to update this post once I have completed the far it's been nearly two weeks and I've been told I'm in the process and all documents have been approved.  BTW, for anyone who changed their name (ie: you got your diploma before you got married) you will need to also upload proof that the name on the diploma belongs to you, a marriage certificate will do.

One more thing...if you are planning a trip home take time and do this while you are home, it will be faster and cheaper I'm told.  I can't vouch for that but I'm being told that.  We are going to encourage our current teachers to do this step with diplomas here in China but we will also encourage them to get all the other documents done when they go home next.  It's just a good idea to have it done so if you do plan to change employers it won't delay the process.

Hum. Sounds like a hassle.

Don't ASSUME that a Q1 or Q2 will be treated the same as a Z. That's speculation on your part. Getting a stamp on a legal document that is not specified to have one could void that document. Be careful.

Yes, things are changing. But remember that how these changes will be implemented will depend on where you live.


As far as I can tell they don't stamp the actual document, it's an attachment to the document.  I hope to know more when mine comes...maybe another week?  Here is another fun fact...each embassy seems to have different rules.  Houston and Chicago are asking for a Gold Seal before they will stamp the diplomas, and the gold seal must be from the Secretary of State from that State, which is nonsense if you already have the document notarized because that is from the Sec. of State!  Yet, in Spain where one of my new hires is from they didn't ask for that to be done by the government, it was actually a very simple it's not uniform how these new rules are applied.

I really wish China would make this process easier and uniform before making us jump through hoops that make hiring so much harder.


The documents arrived yesterday...they weren't what I expected but they are genuine.  Here's what I mean, I thought I would get a document back with the funky Chinese stamp (a very official looking thing that is quite large) but instead they sent me two letters with only a typical Chinese red stamp in the right hand corner.  It was a surprise but I have discovered it's genuine and will work as proof that my college degree is real.  The letter contains my name, date of birth, and the name of the school I attended.  It is ALL in Chinese from a place called Chinese Service Center of Scholarly Exchange.  To be honest if I didn't know better I'd say it was a joke...but then I've lived in China for 10 years and I've come to realize most of the hoops they make you jump are rather odd to a Westerner.  Somehow this funny looking document proves my diploma is's odd because I thought that's what a notary stamp did...but then who am I to argue??

All I can tell you is; if you work in China currently you will need to do this to prove your diploma is the real deal.  If you are coming to China then the process is different, you will need to first notarize the document, then get a stamp from the State where you live (US ONLY) then the Chinese stamp. 

Here is a web link  (this link explains it well and shows you a photo of the funky Chinese stamp)

All told it wasn't that awful, 385RMB and you get two copies of the document you will need.  It took 2 hours of my time and help because I don't read Chinese, then two weeks to get the forms.  Good luck...

Yeah.  It sounds awful. I agree.

What area are you in that requires this?

This is actually for all of China...but I am finding that some areas are worse than others.  I am in Jilin Province, and that's not too bad, however Jiangsu, and especially Suzhou tends to be very strict, as does Shanghai and in Zhejiang where Hangzhou is located.  Beijing is strict but that is a given, also any areas that are "restricted"...also a given.  Here's what we are finding as we try to hire new teachers, it just depend.  There are rules but some companies seem to get around the rules while others can't.  We tend to follow the rules because we don't want problems.  This is one reason why I decided to do this so then I'd be able to walk my teachers through the process.

It's sort of like when I decided to get a Chinese drivers license, I did it first then it was easier for other teachers to do it.  By the way, yes I have it but I never drive here, too scary and too expensive.  Besides, public transportation is fine and so much cheaper than having a car.

Ugh such a pain in the ass. Do you guys know about the governments motivation for all of these strict rules?
They surely have a lack of teachers so I am not sure if this is the right way. I do see hwoever that this raises the quality of teachers around. I havent really found good information online.

Dear Helengonefar:

Yes these rules are a pain in the backside...for sure, but I can see the point of it, if it raises the quality of the teachers that are hired.  In theory this should do the trick...but we all know theory and reality are not the same.  I have some really great teachers with NO degrees and then I have some teachers with degrees who are lazy and worthless.  A degree isn't what makes a teacher good or bad...the passion they have for teaching is what matters. 

While I can support the Chinese government in wanting to raise the bar...I am not a huge fan of the extra layers of red-tape to make this happen.  It now requires a new hire to go to their Chinese embassy a minimum of three times; first, just to get all the documents stamped before they can even get the Letter of Invite (LOI) to come, then again when the get the LOI, and finally the third time to pick up their passport with the work visa.  If a person doesn't live close to an embassy this becomes a real obstacle in the hiring process.  We have had prospective teachers drop out of the process once they realize the time and cost involved.  As employers we do not pay for the initial visa or documents, that is done by the prospective employee.  Many companies do it this way so we are not unique. 

Oh one last thing...we are still waiting to find out if the process I just went through is the same as the stamp you can get from the Chinese embassy in your home country, that is an official stamp, mine was just a letter with a normal Chinese red stamp.  Once we have confirmation then I will assist our current teachers to get there diplomas "made official" with this new process.  And yes, it's a pain and it just made our hiring process more difficult and time consuming!

Hi there.
Just to add to this, it is not "6" native English speaker countries. It is 7. South Africa is included on this list.

With regards to the 50 students, they were deported because NONE of them had degrees. They all went to China on student visas and they were told that it is legal to teach on a student visa.

My wife and I are South African and just moved to China this week. On Z Visas.

To conclude, I agree with almost everything you said. Just wanted to add that South Africans with authenticated BA Degrees qualify for Z Visas!

Have a good day!

Dear Marvin:

I am so happy for you...but it's not that way across ALL of China.  May I ask where you are in China?  I know that where I am in the Northeast Jilin Province, we have issues hiring from your country because it is not on the list.  Yes the situation with the 50 students was a scam and very bad for all involved and it happened here in Changchun, which is why I know alot about it.

You do need a degree, and it must be stamped by the embassy in your country.  That is now very much the rule.  However, there are some companies that can skirt this rule but be very careful because it can later bite you.

Final word, don't believe everything you are your homework and find out.  It's not only good advice, it's just common sense.

Hi there!

I'm from India, I came here on Z visa and I've got resident permit and all the documents required to teach. Further my company hires a lot of teachers from Russia, Morroco,etc. We're based in Changchun and I work in Siping. I don't think the nationality thing is really strict here as they need a lot of English teachers.

One question though- what's the category on your work permit? Mine says B- what does it mean?

Thank you.

Dear Ray:

You are working for a company that must have permission for you to be in Siping when they are based in Changchun.  Be careful.  Just because your company is hiring NON-Native speakers to teach doesn't mean they are legal.  There are three categories of Z visa and they are A, B, C.  A is very hard to get and it means you are very qualified and they will often give A visa holders 2 year visas.  B is what they use for qualified teachers and it means you will have a 1 year work visa.  C is barely qualified and you will only get 6 months maximum. 

You are right we do need teachers and finding them is not easy.  I know because I do it daily.  I can not hire you because you are from India and our company has a rule we don't hire non-native speakers.  We do however hire South Africans but that too many need to change as the rules tighten up.  I caution you to be very sure your company has permission to send you to Siping.  If you are caught working there on a visa that isn't approved for you to work there you are facing fines and deportation.  Be careful.  Feel free to PM me if you want to learn more.

Dear Irai,

Thanks for your response. I guess they have permission and seems legal. There are teachers who are working for like 10 years with the company. They told me that this company is good and all that.

Anyway, I wanted to know few more things but I wasn't able to send you a PM. I couldn't find the option to send you a message. Could you try to send me a message?



Check your messages, I have just sent you one. 


What kind of company hired you? I'm looking for companies that provide non-natives with work visas as well.

My company is in Changchun. If you want to know more just pm me.

Well how can non natives find teaching jobs

Dear Taffy:

Legally they can't, but there are some companies that skirt around the rule by hiring non-natives but not as teachers.  It can be very dangerous for the foreigner to be on the wrong visa.  You may not have any idea that your company did it but if you are caught teaching on the wrong visa you WILL get fined, and deported, the company will pay a fine and do it again.  Be careful, I personally know of 5 teachers in Beijing who got deported because they were all working without a BA degree...that is an issue now too.

Keep in mind the rules are simple, Native speaker from one of the six countries (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand) and I have recently heard South Africa is now OK as is the Philippines but I have not seen that confirmed.  You must have a BA degree, a min. 120 hr TEFL/TESOL, criminal background check (from your home country).  These must all be stamped by the Chinese embassy in your home country, notarized and apostilled.  If you are coming to China for the first time you will need to come from your home country and you must enter with a work (Z) visa to teach.  If you do not follow these rules you are at risk.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  There are no legal ways around these rules and breaking them right now is ill-advised.

Yes Irai your right... things have got tighter here since 2017 and I also hear about the tax policies.. there will be higher taxes to be paid by foreigners on work permit, there are still trying to settle the rules straight as many do not know about and it is always advisable getting to know as much info possible to avoid getting surprises.

Thanks Irai for that info , how about if im looking to to teach or settle in smaller cities of China such as 3rd tier cities or 2nd tier cities of China.  I have seen information which said chances of getting work visa for non native teacher in smaller cities could be easy compared to big cities like Beijing  as they only require native teachers.

Is this information true and if so which cities should i be looking at.



Yes you could go to a smaller city but then you are taking a bigger risk.  Smaller cities have rules that restrict if they can even hire foreign teachers, so you need to be very careful.  Stick to reputable companies that have websites you can check you and people you can ask who have worked for them in the past or currently.  ASL cafe or Dave's Cafe are both good.  Check with the company where you got your TEFL or TESOL as they should have job boards.  Be  very careful, there are some very bad companies who will do anything to hire you but then once you are here the nightmare begins.

DO NOT EVER come to China for work on ANYTHING but a Z work visa.  You can NOT change any other visa into a Z work visa no matter what anyone tells you.  If you come on a student or business visa you are asking for problems.  YOU CAN ONLY get a Z working visa from you home country.  In the past you could get them from just about anywhere but no longer. 

DO NOT TRUST anyone!  People will lie.  They won't call it lying...but they are.  It's pretty common for employers to lie just to get foreigners to come.  DO NOT LET ANYONE ever keep your passport (except when they are transferring your first visa to the longer visa) during the transfer process the police will have it but your employer can NOT keep it.  You should always have it and you should have a copy of your foreign expert card, you don't need to carry or keep that, your passport and the work visa are enough to prove you are legal.  Finally be smart, your work visa will be for a particular city now and province, you can't just work anywhere in China on that visa.  If your visa is for Beijing then it's ONLY for Beijing and if you want to change jobs and go to Shanghai you will need a new visa for that city.  You can not be transferred from even your own company on an existing visa, they need to get you the right one for that city.  Also your employer must be licensed to hire foreign teachers and where they can put you...if you work in a public school they must be approved to have foreign teachers and if they hire directly they know this, if they hire through a 3rd party be careful and ask a lot of questions about the documents.

One last thing, if you change jobs in China you will need your current employer to give you two documents, a letter of release (this means you completed your contract) and a letter of recommendation.  Often they are ONE document that serves both purposes.  You must have both to transfer employers.  Your new employer must work with your current employer to make this happen, if the current employer is honest this is no problem, if not this will be a huge issue and very nasty.

I hope this helps...but I would just advise caution working as a non-Native speaker in China especially now.  Pick another country where the rules are not so difficult is my advice.

Dear Ravi:

Yes taxes have changed but the rules are not that different.  Let me explain, even under the new changes foreigners are exempt under the treaty China have with over 130 countries.  Under this agreement China and whatever country agree that the foreign national will not be taxed twice.  This means in China you are exempt from ALL taxes your first year and after that you have deductions that apply directly to your income.

This is how it works, your gross income is reduced by the standard deduction that all foreigner get which is now 5000 RMB.  So you can reduce your income by 5000 RMB and the rest is taxable, but you still get other deductions off the gross, housing and travel and many other items.  Let's just use housing and say your rent is 3000 RMB and travel to get to your job for the month is another 1000 RMB this means you can reduce your income by a total of 9000 RMB which will reduce your tax liability.

See this calculation to better understand how this works:

10,000 RMB gross pay (less standard deduction 5000, less housing 3000, less travel 1000) net for taxes = 1000 RMB

at 1000 RMB you are in the 3% tax bracket so your tax liability will be 30 RMB.  10,000 gross pay (less taxes 30) = 9970 RMB net. 

Now you have to be sure your employer knows this and doesn't do the taxes without taking ALL deductions...otherwise here is what will happen...10,000 (less the standard deduction 5000) = 5000 RMB and now you are taxed on that amount which is in the 20% bracket so the tax is 1000 RMB

China gives a deduction on that so 1000 (less the tax deduction at 20% which is 555) = 445 RMB in taxes you will owe.  So now 10,000 gross pay (less 445 taxes) = 9555 RMB

You just lost 415 RMB because the taxes were not figured correctly.  Oh let me be clear...many employers know this and will take the 445 from the employee and then pay the government 30...nice way to pocket some extra cash.  Another trick and this is why China is getting stricter is for employers to have two banks for employees, then you are paid in two sums, housing and travel (which is kept under 5000) and your pay which is usually less that amount.

So an employer may hire you and say you will make 15,000 RMB but they will pay you 10,000 to one account and the 5000 to another.  This is not legal and this is what China is trying to stop. 

If you are going to work abroad in ANY country it's wise to understand the laws and to be informed on how salary is calculated before you come.  I hope this helps.

Thank you very much on the useful information and advice Irai

Im very grateful

Thanks so much for your helpful advices always Irai, I will consider about what you have explained surely...

best wishes!

New topic