Work Visa with no degree

Dear all,

I am sure this question has been commonly asked and i have probably read everything that is on the Internet. However mystery is still not solved.

Basically my current company would like to send me to the office in Shanghai. I was in the process applying for the work pass and have been informed that because i do not have a BA , my option would be as follows:

1) pay IIT and earn min of RMB 26K 

A brief description, i have 10 years of related experience, i am on home contract. Realistically, my salary is not sufficient for the Income Tax which would be applicable for RMB 26K.

Are my options exhausted and that there is no hope whatsoever? I would appreciate if you could offer any kind of advice. Thank you!


While you have provided more information than most, what you have provided is really scant for the level of detail that you require in your answer. That being stated, I will take a shot at it.

First of all, salary at a company is not determined by the Chinese government in any way, shape or form. It is determined by the company. And, only by the company. If the company is reducing your salary for reason XXXXX, it is their decision, not any rule, law or policy of China.

This is an absolute truth and not a debatable issue.

The only relationship between salary and the Chinese government is in the amount of taxes that are withheld out of your pay. To keep the taxes low, many (but not all) foreign companies pay expat salaries in two ways.

[1] They provide a visible salary (often small) where taxes are removed, and [2] a hidden salary which is deposited in your normal foreign bank account. It is my guess that this is what the company is going to do in your case.

They will pay you 26,000 RMB/month in China and pay the taxes on this. The remainder of your regular salary will be paid to your regular (normal) bank account and your home nation taxes will be deducted out of it.

26,000 RMB/month is a pretty decent salary. It is certainly a managers salary and you will be fine living under it.

That being stated, please note that it is very unusual for a company to cut your salary for a expat salary. It is also rare NOT to have a dual salary scheme for expats in China.

You also brought up another issue. That is the lack of a BA. Now, the BA (or in my case BS) is normally a prohibitive roadblock in the obtainment of a Z-visa. Normally.

However, if you are a key person at a company or offer other skills (think of Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, both of whom don't have degrees) you can get a Z-visa as a sponsored expert. This is an application process that must be handled by your employer. It is unusual, but not unheard of.

If they want you in this role, then you will get the visa. It's pretty straightforward.

What you need to do is talk to your HR about the dual payment scheme that is used by just about every company working in China. Best Regards.


Firstly, thank you so much for the details in response, this is much appreciated!

It is the immigration provider whom our company has engaged for work pass application advised that i should have the China paid salary at a min of RMB 26K in order to get a chance of approval. This is due to the requirement “earn four times the average local salary” Question is, are IIT typically borne by the individual or the company? From the online calculator the IIT works out to be about RMB 2,700 per month. This will be difficult for me and which also means there is nothing much to the second part of my salary (paid in home) I thought it could be straightforward but doesn’t seems to be :(

Thank you so much again for “listening”

If you are applying for the work permit there is indeed a correlation between the points system and your salary.   If you don't meed the min required points you won't be able to get the visa.  26k is not a particularly high salary (it's average) so it seems like a fairly standard requirement.  There are others too like work experience but it seems like you must have met those.

The IIT will typically be taken from your salary by the company.

Take a look at the link below:

I assume that you are earning 26k RMB/month that gets you 14 pts, your ten years of experience get you 10 points - equivalent of a fresh BSc graduate.
That puts you on 24 points - there are another (up to) 60 points up for grabs, based on duration of stay and skills etc. So depending on your exact situation you probably won't qualify tor tier A but may walk it into tier B.

I am working for Chinese aerospace manufacturer so a split salary was not an option for me - I was able to negotiate an "after tax" salary figure which I was happy with, so it doesn't make any difference to me really. Maybe you can discuss this with your company.

All the best


....You also brought up another issue. That is the lack of a BA. Now, the BA (or in my case BS) is normally a prohibitive roadblock in the obtainment of a Z-visa. Normally. ....

Do you need to graduate from an accredited educational institute which is recognized by the authorities before you can use the qualifications you obtain to apply for the relevant visa?

The determination of the validity of your diploma is wholly up to the Chinese officials. In general, however, if the school is "brick and mortar", then they would probably accept your diploma. I have a BS from an accredited university. My ESL certificate was online but done in association with a physical school. I never had any problems.

Dear Mngedo:

The short answer is YES you can get a visa without a BA but it will not be easy.  In some cases it's impossible now.  Shanghai will NOT hire without a BA so you will need to figure it out.  My suggestion to you is get your BA, find an on-line school (accredited) and start.  The longer you put it off the longer it will take.  Begin with a 2 year program and get your Associate degree first.  There are good schools where you can do this and if you are motivated you can do it faster...and some now will take work experience into account.  Excelsior College is one such school. 

Next, taxes in China are easy to understand once you figure it out.  As a foreigner you can deduct stuff from your Gross pay which will reduce your tax liability.  I have done this in another thread somewhere...but here is the deal, you are allowed to deduct your rent and travel (local buses etc) and food and anything really related to your job.  These are all legal deductions!  Your employer will not want to do it but it's totally legal.

We deduct rent and travel so reduce the taxes (legally) for our employees.  So example:

You earn 26,000 and everyone gets 5000 right off the top as a standard deduction.  So your taxable pay is 21,000 and that means you will be in the 20% tax bracket if no other deductions are done.  21,000 x 20% = 4200 (less another standard deduction of 1410) = 2790 taxes...this is what you pay if we don't reduce it legally.

Now we can deduct your rent which in Shanghai could be 8000 and local travel allowance of let's say 1000 so that means I can take another 9000 off so 21000 - 9000 = 12,000 and now you are in the 10% bracket.  1200 - 210 = 990 taxes

So, 26,000 - 990 = 25010 net and if you can find even more legal deductions you can pay even less.  It's the reason as an employer I keep the salary low and instead do a rent and travel allowance to make up the difference.  Your employer could if they want to do the same legally.

I suggest you get your degree...if you have any school already then see how many credits you can get for what you already have.  I am in the process of working with an accredited school in CA to help my teachers who do not have degrees begin the process to get one.  It's the best perk I can think of to get new teachers and keep older ones, get your education.

I wish you all the best.


New topic