Obtaining an employment visa (Z type) to work in China from the UK has been a real nightmare, seemingly compounded by the Olympics when things were further tightened up. The process isn’t very well documented anywhere so to try and possibly help others I thought I might relay my experiences. Please note that none of the below is in any way official and obviously subject to change – your mileage may vary!
To apply for the Z visa from the UK your company will need to provide you with the following documentation:
- An employment permit
- An visa notification letter
For them to get this documentation you will need to give them:
- Passport (should be valid for at least 6 months with blank pages)
- Education (degree) certificate & academic transcript
- Criminal record (obtainable from your local police force or faster from Disclosure Scotland)
- Medical record (GP or hospital should complete, sign and stamp Physical Examination Record for Foreigner)
Copies of the above need to be notarized by a Notary Public (search Google to find one near you), legalised by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (in Milton Keynes by post or in-person), and finally certified by the Chinese Embassy (in London/Manchester/Edinburgh) IN THIS EXACT ORDER.
Once your company has made the application for the employment permit / visa notification letter and sent them back you can then apply for the Z visa at the Chinese Embassy (appointment required) or Chinese Visa Application Center (more expensive but no appointment needed) for which, in addition to the aforementioned documents (plus photocopies), you will need:
- Completed Chinese Visa Application Form
- One passport photo affixed to the visa application form
Unfortunately, all of this is very expensive and time-consuming – I would recommend budgeting at least £400 and 6 weeks to complete the full process at a bare minimum. Once you arrive in China you will need to obtain a Residence Permit which I will save for another post (once I’ve been through it myself!).
Good luck and if your experience differs or you have any other advice to offer please comment below!