We'll contact schools in China for you as soon as we receive your complete application. As for how long it takes for us to firm up a position for you, it depends on a number of factors: how flexible you are about locations and schools and when the school semester begins. It takes less time if you are flexible about locations and schools, and if the start of the school semester is close by.


Before we contact a particular school for you, we'll let you know the specifics. It is only with your go-ahead that we'll contact the school. If the school accepts you, we would expect you to accept its offer. Sometimes, we would contact a school before we let you know the details due to time consideration or other factors. In that event, you are not obligated to accept its offer if you are accepted.



Please make sure that it is your final decision. After you give the hiring school your affirmative word, the school will decline the applications of other candidates and apply to the government for visa paperwork for you. This process is formality only, but very elaborate because several government departments are involved. The worst thing that can happen is for the school to go through this elaborate process only to find that you have changed your mind. In some cases, the position is considered filled by the government after it issues the visa paperwork even though the teacher later decided not to come for any reason. When this happens, you will leave the school in a devastating shape because the government will not issue more visa paperwork to the school for that semester at least. We cannot emphasize enough that you must treat your acceptance seriously.



Once an offer is made and you accepted, you will be usually, but not always, asked to submit the following documents so that the hiring school can prepare paperwork for you to apply for a visa:


Two reference letters.

A signed contract



Upon your acceptance of a position, the host school will apply to the government for visa approval, which is formality only but may take some time. When the approval is granted, you will receive the following two documents:


1. An invitation from the municipal or provincial government where the school is in, or from a ministry that has the jurisdiction over the school. In most cases, the university or the school is not authorized to issue an invitation.


2. A confirmation letter from the State Bureau of Foreign Experts in Beijing.


When you receive these two documents from the hiring school, you can proceed to apply for a Z-visa (work visa) from the Chinese embassy/consulate nearest you. There are seven consulate offices in the U.S.: New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angels, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston.  You need to bring your passport, one photo, the above two documents and a fee. You will need to fill out a visa application form on the spot. If there is no Chinese consulate in the city where you live, you can apply for your visa by mail. In that case, you need to obtain the visa application form from the consulate first. You can download the form from the Chinese Embassy's website at The visa-processing fee varies from country to country. It is reciprocally based, meaning that whatever amount your country charges Chinese citizens for granting a visa, the Chinese consulate will charge you the same. The fee schedule for U.S. citizens is as follows:


Single entry visa: $50
Double entry visa: $75
Multiple entry visa for six months: $100
Multiple entry visa for twelve months: $150


As of May 1, 2003, the Chinese Consulate office stopped accepting visa application by mail. They policy may or may not change in the future. Please contact the Chinese Consulate for the current status regarding mail application. If it is still the case and you don't live in or near a city where there is a Chinese Consulate, you can go through a visa handling service. Please contact us for recommendations if you need  the service.


It takes five business days for you to get your visa back. Since the visa is stamped on your passport, you will have to leave your passport in the Consulate for the duration. If it cuts too close to your departure date, you can always request a 24-hour rush service by paying a little extra. 


You may find further information about the visa application process by checking the website for the Chinese Embassy. If you don't live in the U.S., you may want to check with the Chinese Embassy or consulate nearest you for additional information. 


If you don’t plan to leave China during your contract period, you can apply for a single-entry visa. If you plan to leave China for a visit home or visit some other countries, including Hong Kong and Macao, you should apply for a double entry or multiple-entry visa. Double entry and multiple-entry visas cost a little more than a single entry visa, it will save you a lot of trouble later on. Please note that although Hong Kong and Macao are part of China now, they are treated differently for visa purposes. You don’t need a visa to go to Hong Kong or Macao from China, but when you reenter China, you need a visa. So if you plan to visit Hong Kong, apply for a double entry or multiple-entry visa.


Please note that the health certificate (see below) is generally not required as part of the application documents for a visa, but particular consulate officers seem to handle this matter differently. It is sometimes fine with one officer if you don’t have a physical exam report, but not with another one. Our suggestion is do one if it doesn’t cost you anything or if it doesn’t cost you a lot of money. It will at least give you a peace of mind knowing your health condition before you take a major overseas trip.


Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the United States

Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 328-2517

Chinese Consulate General
104 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1200
Chicago, Illinois 60603
(312) 346-0287

Chinese Consulate General
3417 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77006
(713) 524-4311

Chinese Consulate General
502 Shatto Place, Suite 300
Los Angeles, California 90020
(213) 380-2507

Chinese Consulate General
520 12th Avenue
New York, New York 10036
(212) 279-4275

Chinese Consulate General
1450 Laguna Street
San Francisco, California 94115
(415) 563-4885

Applying for a visa in Hong Kong

Sometimes a teacher needs to report to work immediately, but does not have enough time to apply for his or her work visa, or a teacher who is already in China under a tourist visa and needs to exit the country in order to adjust his or her visa to a work visa (some schools can make the adjustment locally, but most can't). There is an option for him or her to do it in Hong Kong. This is how.

Arrive in Hong Kong and plan on spending one night (Excelsior Hotel on Causeway Bay is one of the better ones).

After checking in, ask the hotel to assist with your visa. You will have to surrender your passport and provide one passport size photo, 2x2 inches.

The next morning the hotel will send your passport out to get the visa. Same-day service, back by 1PM, costing 180 HK dollars (about $26).  The hotel takes care of all paperwork as well as sending it out and getting it back. After they get it back, you can then check out and continue your travels. 

Excelsior Hotel's contact info is as follows:

Excelsior Hotel

281 Gloucester Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Telephone 852-2894-8858
Fax 852-2895-6459
E-mail - general enquiry: [email protected]
Web site: www,
Other hotels in Hong Kong may also offer the same service. A simple phone call to them should permit you to find out if they offer visa assistance. One requirement is that the passport must be in the hands of the visa office before 9AM, so it is best to let the hotel take care of it.



If you teach for more than six months in China, you need to have your doctor fill out a Physical Examination Record for Foreigners and submit to the host school. This certificate is needed by the host school to apply for a resident permit upon your arrival. You need to obtain a standard form from the Chinese Consulate. You can download the form by clicking Chinese Embassy. The medical check will include HIV test.  


Some schools ask that you undergo the physical after you arrive in China. So unless you are requested by your school to under a physical, you don’t have to do it unless you don’t mind doing it twice. Please note that even if your hiring school does not require that you undergo a physical because you will only teach for one semester, the Chinese Consulate may require that you submit the form as part of the visa application. So to avoid the last-minute surprise, it is advisable that you undergo a physical anyway. 




You need two for visa application and possibly six for your school.



You should bring as many medical supplies as you feel you'll need (for burns, rashes, colds, flu, eyes, teeth, etc.). Being so far away from family and your physician, it is a comfort to have familiar products on hand. 


Teaching supplies:

Plan ahead (especially books and teaching materials) and bring the supplies with you as best you can and use them wisely. You do not need to bring multiple copies of the same material, as all the schools have duplicating facilities. Also, it is nice for both the students and you to bring some items/decorations for your home country holidays.  The students find them interesting and the decorations will help you cope with being away from home for the holidays.


Packing and shipping

Pack what only is necessary and people usually would give away the majority of their clothing and linens upon their return.


Electric appliances:

If you can find an appliance with dual voltage - BUY IT!  China uses 220 V. With so many power surges, transformers don't always protect your appliance. If you bring your laptop computer with you, it is important that you never plug it directly into the outlet. Use batteries instead.


Dress code:

Business casual is the name of the game. Never wear jeans and sneakers when you teach in the classroom. You should bring one or two formal attires as there will be formal occasions. Also it is important for you to be formally dressed when you meet school officials for the first time. Appearance does make a difference in China.



Bring items that you often need for cooking, such as:  vanilla extract, spices, etc.  Also pack special snacks that you enjoy.  Pack enough to last for three to four months.



Some comfortable, well made walking shoes. Many people can not buy clothes of ANY kind because most Chinese are much smaller than most Westerners. So, taking everything you need is  a must.  It's very expensive to ship by air and surface shipping  takes about 3 months.



a bicycle light; join a book club or subscribe to a magazine in your home country before you leave in order to have new reading selections every month



Mosquito repellant, wash  n' wipes, mouthwash, dental floss.


Here is another what-to-bring list suggested by an American teacher. There are overlaps with the above:



two pairs of long underwear; warm winter jacket; lighter weight jacket; comfortable walking shoes; warm socks, gloves and wool hat; casual clothes-jeans, T-shirts, flannel shirts, fleece for teaching; one dress outfit for each season; shorts, 2 pr., cool clothes for hot weather.


Teaching supplies:

Index cards are very useful; colored construction paper; post-it notes; highlighters, magic markers; glue sticks; battery-operated pencil sharpener; correction fluid; scotch tape; good dictionary; EFL activity Books; good English-Chinese dictionary; English songs to teach the students.


Household Supplies:

stain sticks; rubber gloves; comet cleaner; can opener; If you cook a hand-mixer is useful; cookbook spices you like; western sheets queen-size, pillow you like.



short-wave radio; word-processor or lap-top (China-net hook-up is available); aspirin, cold medicine, etc.; vitamins; chap stick; cosmetics you use; hairspray, hair gel, etc.; power converters- China is 220v; batteries, AA; clock; flashlight; good skin creams; videos.



If you are provided with airfare, in most cases you will be asked to purchase a ticket on your own to be reimbursed, often at the end of your contract. We have good working relationships with a number of consolidators in the U.S. that specialize in flights to China. When the occasion arises that you need to purchase a ticket, we suggest that you check with your travel agent first to obtain a quote and let us know. We can usually obtain a cheaper rate for the same flight.



U.S. consular officers, both in the State Department in D.C. and in China have compiled a pamphlet termed "Tips for Travelers to the People's Republic of China" to assist travelers to China. It is also called Department of State Publication 10271, Bureau of Consular Affairs and it is available at It has the following sections: About China, Consular Information Program, Entry and Other Visa Requirements, While You Are in China, Customs Regulations, Crime, Currency Regulations, Legal Matters, Dual Nationality, Passport Confiscation and Business Disputes, Adoptions, Health, Travel Arrangement Within China, Restricted Areas, Travel to Tibet, Travel on the Trans-Siberian Express, Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. and U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China.


According to the above pamphlet, immunizations are recommended for hepatitis B and Japanese B encephalitis. (Immunization for Japanese B encephalitis is only recommended during the epidemic summer months for visitors planning to stay longer than two or three weeks in rural areas.) An immune globulin shot may offer protection against hepatitis A. Malaria occurs in China, particularly in rural areas and in southern China. Depending on the season and your destination, you may need to take antimalarial drugs, use insect repellant, and take other measures to reduce contact with mosquitoes.


The New York Hospital recommends the following 4 shots for China:


hepatitis A



polio booster


(if you've never had measles you'd need that too)


The phone number for the hospital is 212-746-5454. Ask for the international health department. The clinic is at 440 East 69th Street, ground floor.




The US-China Educational Exchange serves as an intermediary between the applicant and the hiring school, but we do not make any decisions for either party. The contract is signed between the the applicant and the hiring school. For this reason, we are to be released from any claim, legal or otherwise, by the applicant and the hiring school.