The China work visa or Z visa is available to individuals who have obtained an employment and plan to work in China. Foreigners who have a paid job offer or will conduct commercial entertainment performances in China can apply for a Z visa in China.

Below, learn more about the process and characteristics of the Chinese Z visa.

Information Necessary for a Chinese Z Visa 

There are a variety of materials that a person needs to submit with their Chinese Z visa application, such as:

  • A valid passport with at least six months left on it before the entry date into China
  • A completed, typed and signed Chinese Z visa application form
  • One recent passport-type photograph that includes a full face, frontal perspective and a white background in the size of 33mm x 48 mm that has been taken within six months and is affixed to the application form

The foreigner must also submit a work permit that they have obtained through their employer. This work permit must be one of the following:

  • Foreigners Work Permit – The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China issues this particular type of work permit in China.
  • Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Offices of enterprises of foreign countries – Chinese authorities of industrial and commercial administration issue these work permits.
  • Approval document for commercial performances – Government authorities for cultural affairs in China issue this type of work permit
  • Invitation Letter to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations – Employees receive this type of work permit through the National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Applicants may be required to submit additional supporting documents, depending on their particular situation. For example, some foreigners may be required to submit a medical form and have a criminal history check completed.

All applicants will need to complete a medical check when they apply for their temporary residence permit in China, even if they are not required to submit the medical form.

Additional Eligibility Criteria for a Z Visa

There are additional eligibility criteria to obtain a Z visa.

The applicant must be between the age of 18 and 60 in most cases. There may be additional requirements depending on the jurisdiction where the Z visa is obtained, so workers may wish to contact their local consulate for any additional requirements.

There are also additional requirements for Chinese descendants. If there is a foreign-born child of a Chinese descendant 18 or younger, he or she must provide a copy of any previous Chinese visa sticker with the application. If the most recent visa is included in a previous passport, the applicant must copy the most recent Chinese visa page. If these are not available, the applicant can submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate and a copy of their parents’ foreign passports or foreign permanent residence identity card. Applicants who were born in Mainland China who are applying for a Chinese visa for the first time must submit their original and most recent Chinese passport, a copy of the U.S. naturalization certificate and a copy of the U.S. permanent residence card with their application.

Applicants who were born in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao who are applying for a Chinese visa for the first time must provide a copy of their passport or government-issued identification card. If the applicant has a previous passport, he or she should submit with this with their application. Applicants who were adopted from China who are applying for a visa in China for the first time must provide a copy of their adoption certificate, original Chinese passport and a copy of the U.S. Naturalization Certificate.

If there was a name change, a copy of the court order authorizing the name change must be submitted.

How to Apply for a Chinese Work Visa

There are several different ways to apply for a China work visa. An online application is available. Additionally, individuals can apply directly at the Chinese embassy, their local consulate or other diplomatic areas.

Chinese Visa Application Centers are also available in many countries where the application is available. A visa agency, travel agency or friend may even act on the foreigner’s behalf to apply for the Chinese work visa. An application cannot be mailed in.

Visa Fees for Chinese Z Visas

The visa fees for Chinese Z visas are the same as they are for other types of visas in China.

Because Z visas are considered a single-entry visa, the single-entry fee applies. The base fee for foreigners from the following countries for a Chinese work visa are:

  • $140 for United States citizens
  • CAD 142 for Canadian citizens
  • GBP 151 for United Kingdom citizens
  • AUD 109.5 for Australian citizens

The amounts listed above are the current rates at the time of this publication, but they are subject to change.

There are additional service and shipping fees. Additionally, foreigners may pay an additional fee to expedite the process. If going through a visa agency, common forms of accepted payment include check, money order or credit card. A credit card transaction may incur an additional surcharge.

Processing Times for Chinese Work Visas

It typically takes four working days to process a Chinese work visa application.

For many people, this allows them to pick up their visa within the same week or the following week of when they submit their application. An application for a Chinese work visa can be expedited and processed in one working day for an additional payment. Likewise, an additional fee can help am application be processed within two or three working days.

Duration of Stay for a Chinese Z Visa

A Z visa only provides a stay up to 30 days from the date the foreigner arrives in China.

During this small 30-day window, the foreigner and his or her employer must obtain a Temporary Residence Permit that will last for as long as the duration is in the employment contract, with a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of five years. The Z visa will typically show a duration of “000,” which indicates that the duration will later be determined.

Visa for Accompanying Family Members

Family members who will accompany the Z visa worker can apply for an S visa.

Many of the documents and rules regarding S visas mirror Z visa requirements. Applicants must submit the following documents to apply for an S visa in China:

  • The applicant’s passport with at least six months left on its validity and blank pages
  • Completed S visa application form
  • The Z visa worker’s passport and Chinese residence permit
  • Kinship certification between the worker and the accompanying family member that establishes the relationship between these two individuals, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate or other kinship certification
  • Invitation letter from the foreigner that provides details about the applicant, the purpose of the visit, departure and arrival dates and relations between the applicant and the Z visa holder, and information on the individual inviting the family member

This application must be submitted individually to a Chinese embassy or consulate along with the China S visa fee, which is the same as it is for Z visas. Like with the Z visa, a four-day processing time is standard.