Over the last three years, moving to China to teach has been somewhat complicated, to say the least! Covid has caused extreme difficulties in obtaining work visas and has meant that the prices of flights into China have been at times extortionate. In addition, China’s ‘Zero-Covid’ policy has meant that many schools throughout the country have spent significant periods of time closed and teaching online. This policy also meant many individuals inside China have had to abide by strict Covid regulations. All of this has significantly hampered many teachers’ dreams of teaching in China since the pandemic began and has understandably made many others sceptical about making the move.
Thankfully, this difficult period is now over, as there have been some significant positive developments over recent months. In this blog post, we explain what has changed and why China is once again a brilliant option for those who want to teach abroad in 2023!
One of the biggest hurdles that many teachers faced over the last three years, has been obtaining a work visa to enter China. Due to Covid, the Chinese government introduced something called a ‘PU Letter’, which became a requirement of the Z Visa process. Any school that wanted to bring a teacher into China, had to apply to the government for a PU letter. This was then used alongside the teacher’s work permit to obtain their Z Visa. Unfortunately, PU letters were extremely difficult for schools to get their hands on, and there were frequent periods when the government would stop issuing them altogether… This led to many teachers being left frustrated and unable to enter the country within a reasonable timeframe.
Fortunately, in June 2022 the Chinese government abolished the PU letter! This means that not only is the Z Visa process now the same as it was before Covid, but every single type of school in China is now able to bring teachers into the country. Here at Teach English Global, we’ve seen firsthand over recent months how most of our schools are now interviewing overseas teachers again, with the aim of bringing them into China for the upcoming semester!
Once the visa process returned to normal in June, there was a wave of teachers who obtained their Z Visa and were ready to enter China. The obstacle that now stood in their way, was the expensive price of flights… From June 2022 to September 2022 the average cost of a flight from the UK to China was roughly £10,000, and from the USA it was around $16,000! These ridiculous prices were caused by two factors. Firstly, a shortage in flights that were going to China meant that demand far outweighed supply. Secondly, due to some of China’s Covid regulations, all individuals flying into the country were required to transit at an airport with sufficient Covid testing facilities. There were only several airports globally that had these facilities in place. To avoid paying an obscene amount of money on flights, many individuals had to enter China via Hong Kong. This method was much cheaper, but still came with several complications and took individuals an average of two weeks to arrive in China, from the day they boarded their initial flight to Hong Kong.
Thankfully, things have now changed for the better! The number of international flights heading into China has increased drastically over recent months, meaning that supply is catching up with demand. In addition to this, China has eased their Covid regulations for inbound passengers, meaning that individuals can now transit at any airport worldwide on their way to the country. This has caused prices to fall off a cliff, with the average price of a flight from the UK to China now only £1,000, and the price from the USA is around $1,500. These prices are expected to continue falling further over the coming months!
As we’ve described already, Covid has hampered many teachers’ plans of heading to China over recent years, due to the visa policy changes and flight price increases that it inadvertently caused. Since the virus was first common knowledge in January 2020, China has pursued a ‘Zero-Covid’ policy. Their objective was to keep Covid cases and deaths to an absolute minimum, and involved mass testing, long quarantine periods, and city-wide lockdowns. At the pandemic’s beginning, this policy appeared to be a success, with China recording low case numbers and deaths. Most people living in China enjoyed a relatively normal life, whilst the rest of the world was living with tough restrictions, even though the virus continued to spread.
However, things then started to change with the introduction of the Omicron variant. With this variant not being as lethal, and vaccination rates throughout the world increasing, life started to return to normal for people living in many countries. Whereas in China, the easily transmissible Omicron meant that case numbers started to rise. This resulted in a harsh increase in lockdowns, restrictions, and testing. All of which was well reported in the western media. Understandably, some teachers were now less interested in moving from a country with few Covid regulations (the UK, the USA etc), to a country with an abundance of them.
In a recent turn of events, the Chinese government have decided to drop their ‘Zero-Covid’ policy, with the country now learning to live with the virus, just like the rest of the world. There has been a huge change in all of China’s Covid regulations. Large lockdowns are now a thing of the past, whilst there have also been changes related to testing, quarantine and travel. It will take some time for all these changes to take full effect, but it does mean that teachers moving to China in 2023 can expect to live a relatively restriction-free life!
Predicting what will happen in China is never an easy thing to do, however, all of the signs from the last six months are extremely positive. The process of obtaining a Z Visa to legally work in China is now the same as it was pre-pandemic, and any school can easily bring a teacher into the country. Flight prices are now both stable and affordable, which makes entering the country realistic for those who want to do it. Furthermore, as we’ve just described, China’s Covid policy has completely changed and they’re now adopting a more relaxed approach to the virus. In a nutshell, China is returning to normal and opening up again to the outside world!
At the start of the pandemic, there was a mass exodus of teachers leaving China to return to their home countries, and because of the reasons listed in this blog post, many struggled to return soon after. Moreover, due to China’s ‘Zero-Covid’ policy, many teachers who had remained in the country have since also made the decision to leave. This has resulted in a teacher shortage within the country, and since most schools in China are now fully operational and able to recruit from overseas, the demand for teachers and amount of great teaching opportunities has exploded! Any teacher who heads to China in 2023 can expect to have multiple options available to them, as well as receive a better remuneration package than if they’d travelled to the country pre-pandemic.
At Teach English Global, we’ve been specialising in helping teachers move to China for several years, and have witnessed firsthand the multiple twists and turns that have happened throughout the pandemic. Therefore, we can now confidently declare that teaching in China is once again a great, viable option for any teachers who want to move abroad in 2023. Not only is obtaining a visa and entering the country similar to pre-pandemic, but life in the country is also returning to normal and there’s an abundance of excellent opportunities available at a range of brilliant schools.