The interviews are over, the contracts are signed, and you're ready to be a foreign English teacher in China, right? Well….not quite yet. There are still many documents that need to be procured before you can even think about looking at plane tickets. The process can be a little daunting, but be sure to work with your recruiter and refer to this complete guide to help reduce the stress of moving abroad.
1. Apply for Your ACRO Check. No doubt your recruiter has emailed you a list of documents for you to prepare for your work permit. First thing's first; apply for your ACRO police check! That monster takes weeks to be processed and to arrive, especially if you don't fill out the paperwork correctly the first time (unfortunately, I didn't), so keep an eye on your account. It's not hard to apply for an ACRO check, simply fill out an online application at https://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx. Don't worry, the website is easy to follow, but the process does take a while and can put a halt in your move to China so pause here and go apply for it now!
2. Get your Medical Check. Ok. Good. Now that filling out your ACRO forms are out the way, you should start looking into your medical check. *Side note, only some cities in China still require a full medical check prior to arrival and my city, Wuxi, was one of them. The form may look daunting at first, but it's really not. Think of the medical form as a medical history; have your doctor fill out the first page completely and the second half of the last page. Don't forget the blood test either! The doctor doesn't need to go into great detail when filling in the form, simply stating there are no abnormalities is enough, especially as you are given a more in depth medical check once you have landed in China. Just don't forget to get your doctor's signature and stamp on the form!
3. Notarise your Bachelor's Degree. Once you have your ACRO police check back and degree certificate, you must get them notarised by a notary public. Be sure to specify you'd like your degree notarised and not certified, which can be easily confused. In my case, since I didn't want any markings on my degree, I had a colour photocopy notarised. After this, you must send off both notarised documents to the Foreign and Commonwealth office to certify them. Go online and fill out an application at https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised.
4. Document Approval from the Chinese Embassy. Lastly, you need your documents approved by the Chinese embassy. For myself, the closest embassy was in Manchester. Print out the online form found at http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/lsfw/legalization/. Make photocopies of ALL your documents and your passport and get on the train ready to puzzle your way through the busy city until you reach the embassy. From Piccadilly Station it's roughly a ten-minute taxi ride to the Chinese embassy. The embassy is always busy, so go early and they will go through all your documents with you and provide you with a pick up slip. After three days, return to the embassy with the slip so you can pick up your documents and pay the fee. *Side note, be sure to type the form in. Most of the consulates will reject the application if it's filled out by pen. Only the signature parts are acceptable in pen.
Now email all your documents to your recruiter, sit back, relax and wait for your work permit to come through! I'm sure you have clocked that these services couldn't have been free. Sadly, no they aren't and they can cost a fair amount but don't be alarmed.
Don't even think of the cost as a negative thing. My part-time job enabled me to pay for all of this over the course of two months. It's not hard to get the money together and China is definitely worth the spend. When you arrive in China, you can apply for reimbursement of these costs too. You'll get the £279 in your next EF pay check – which in my case was equivalent to about ¥2,500 CNY.
Don't believe me? Come to Wuxi and find out! We just opened a new school and it's so much fun to be a part of that!
Teach, travel, and train with EF English First
By: Natasha Blackmore
Natasha is a shy, small village girl who somehow found her way to living in Wuxi. While getting used to the sounds and experiences of life in a city she is also on a hunt for the best cup of tea China has to offer!