Chinese Employment Visa (Work Visa)

Revised: 2017-04-11

2017/04/01: Work visa (Z): invitation letter no longer needed, work permit alone is enough.

Employment Visa or Work Visa (Z) is issued to an alien who comes to China for employment. Before September 2013, the accompanying family members were also issued a Z visa, but since September 2013, the family members are issued Q1, S1, or S2 visa, depending on particular situation. However, there is no change in document requirement for family members.

I. Documents needed for work visa (Z) visa

  1. Your valid and actual passport. The passport must have at least six (6) months validity left before expiration and at least one blank page left in it.
  2. A copy of the photo page of your passport.
  3. One completed Chinese Visa Application Form.
  4. One photo (approximately 2x2, color, similar to passport photo).
  5. Employment related documents:
    • Foreigners Employment Permit (Work Permit) issued by Chinese government authorities for Human Resources and Social Security, Foreign Expert Working Permit, Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Offices of enterprises of foreign countries, approval document for commercial performances, or similar documents;
    • Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Entity, or Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by relevant Chinese entities. Each of these letters should have an unique serial number.
    • Offshore worker only needs "Letter of Invitation to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations" in China.
  6. If you were born in mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan, and your current foreign passport does not have an old Chinese visa, please submit the original AND a copy of your old Chinese passport (pages with your name, photo and passport extension), or a copy of old Chinese visa on your last foreign passport. Also supply your name in Chinese characters. Be sure to check out the Chinese version: documents required for Chinese visa.
  7. Non-US passport holder must provide original AND copy of green card, or a copy of US immigration document (e.g. H1B, I-20). Please read detailed information and country specific visa requirements.
  8. Online order confirmation page (create a new order).

For the Employment Permit and Invitation Letter, even though the original is required, a scanned copy will work in most cases. We suggest providing the originals if possible.

II. Visa for accompanying family members

From September 2013, the family members are no longer issued a Z visa, but Q1, S1, or S2 visa, depending on circumstances. The documents needed are similar, and here are the additional documents needed:

  • Copy of passport photo page of the Z visa holder (applicant);
  • Copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate showing relationship to Z visa holder (applicant);
  • Copies of Employment Permit and Letter of Invitation (if family members are listed on the invitation), OR "Employment Permit and Letter of Invitation" of Z visa applicant + the invitation letter for family members issued by the hiring organization in China, OR (if joining latter) "resident permit" + invitation letter written the resident permit holder (see requirement on invitation letter).

If the family is visiting for short term, it might be easier to apply for a tourist visa.

IV. Visa fee and processing time

The consular fee is $140 and our service fee is $79.96. The regular processing time at the consulate is 4 working days. Additional fees are required for express processing. For details, please see visa fee table.

V. Visa validity period and duration of stay

Work visa (Z visa) is valid for one entry and three months. The duration of stay is listed as "000 days". The holder of a (Z) visa should go to the local public security department within thirty days of entry into China and convert the visa into a resident permit, which functions as a "temporary green card" and allows for unlimited entry/exit.

S1/Q1 visa is also single entry, but S2 can be multple entry.

VI. Questions and Answers

Q: I need to entry/exit China from time to time. Can I get a multiple entry Z visa?

A: Yes, but only after you enter China. The Chinese consulates in US will only issue you a single entry Z visa. After you enter China and go through the procedures at the local police department, you may apply for a resident permit there, which acts like a temporal US green card and allows you to enter/exit China freely.

Q: Can you help me get the work permit and invitation letter?

A: No. You need to check with the company who hires you. It is their responsibility to provide you with such documents.

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