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Requirements for teaching English in China

You’ve probably thought about teaching English in China and done some research, running across a variety of requirements that seem to change from site to site. Maybe you’re feeling no closer to figuring out exactly what you need than you were when you started. Fortunately, as the world’s leading privately-owned education company, with over 25 years’ experience in bringing teachers to China, EF English First can help you every step of the way. Every year we help over 2000 teachers obtain the Chinese Z visa that they need in order to legally teach English in China. Below we’ll walk you through the requirements step by step.

Passport from one of 7 countries

The Chinese Government will only issue ESL teaching work visas to people from certain countries. The first thing to check is that your passport is from:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

If you hold, or can obtain, a passport from one of these seven countries you’ve met the first requirement.

Bachelor’s degree

Along with having a passport from one of the seven countries listed above, you will need a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in order to obtain your work visa.
What this is: This can be a bachelor’s in any major. BA, BSc, or other designations are fine as long as your degree clearly states that it is a bachelor’s. If you’re in the last few months of study but haven’t received your degree yet, don’t worry! We can help you begin the rest of your paperwork while you wait for your degree to arrive.
What this isn’t: associate degrees, certificates, licenses, and transcripts will not be accepted by the Chinese Government for ESL teaching work visas.

TEFL certification

In order to teach English in China you need a 120-hour Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. This is a basic-level certification that qualifies you to teach ESL. The TEFL course offers a fundamental knowledge of ESL teaching as well as how to best use the classroom to your advantage.
If you don’t have your TEFL certificate yet you’re not alone! Many new teachers start applying to teach in China before they get their TEFL. EF English First can sponsor you for a 120-hour TEFL, free of charge, through our partnership with Foundation TEFL. This course is valued at $500 and is part of our commitment to ensuring that our teachers meet all the requirements for a legal working visa.

Background check

The ability to obtain a clear criminal background check is one of the basic requirements for getting a working visa for China. This check details whether or not you have a criminal record, and in order to get your work visa it must show that you have no criminal record.

Be able to live abroad for at least one year

Your ESL work visa allows you to live in China for one year, with multiple entries into the country. To make the most out of your experience, giving yourself time to travel and save some money, you’ll want to make sure that you can live abroad for at least one year. With so much to learn and explore, life in China is always an adventure, so be prepared for your time here to fly by.

Putting it all together

To summarize, the eligibility requirements for an ESL teacher to obtain a legal Z visa for China are:

  • Passport from the US, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, or Australia
  • Bachelor’s degree (any major)
  • 120-hour TEFL certificate (not required at the time of application – check out our TEFL certificate sponsorship program )
  • Clear criminal background check
  • The ability to live abroad for at least one year

You don’t need to have these documents on hand to apply – our recruitment team is happy to talk to you if you’re interested in teaching and know that you can fulfill these requirements. They’ll even help you figure out how to get any of the documents that you don’t have in hand. You don’t need to speak Chinese or have teaching experience in order to qualify. EF English First provides all new teachers with full arrival support, free Mandarin Chinese lessons if you’d like to learn, and several weeks of teacher training. Teaching in China is as simple as applying, so why not give it a try and apply now.

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