One of the most common questions that teachers ask us following their initial application is ‘How long will the whole process take until I’m actually teaching in China?’ It’s an understandable question, as most teachers would like a rough time frame for when they’re likely to be leaving for China. This allows teachers to forward plan things, such as handing in their notice to their current employer and seeing family/friends before leaving.

In this blog post, we break down each step involved in the process of moving to China in order to teach English, explaining how long each step takes as well as highlighting things that may speed up or slow down the process.

1. Apply Now to Offer Acceptance – 2 weeks

The first step for most teachers in our process is to Apply Now to indicate an interest in teaching English in China. Typically we respond to most applications within 48 hours to arrange an initial call. Once we’ve spoken to you and found out what type of a position it is that you’re looking for, we get to work in trying to arrange interviews with appropriate schools. Typically our partner schools respond to us immediately with feedback on any CVs that we submit to them, and if you have the required skills and experience you’ll be invited to attend a first stage interview within 3-4 days.

Most of the schools that we work with have a two-stage interview process, and it will typically take one week for both interviews to be conducted and an offer to be made to you if you’re successful. Once you’ve received an offer, a member of our team will go through your contract with you, answering any questions you may have before you officially accept your offer.

2. Document Authentication – 2-4 weeks

Once you’ve accepted an offer you’ll start the Chinese Z Visa process. The first stage of the visa process is for you to get all of the necessary documents authenticated. These documents are: Bachelor’s Degree, TEFL Certificate, and Criminal Record Check. We explain in greater detail what needs to be done with these documents and how this process works in our Visa Guide.

You can either complete this stage with the help of a visa agent or by yourself. Using a visa agent will be slightly more expensive, but would typically save you a bit of time. In addition to this, the location of your school in China will have an impact on how long this stage takes. If your school is based in Beijing then you’ll be required to have a medical check done in your home country. You’ll then be required to post your medical check and all of your authenticated documents to Beijing. Whereas, if your school is located outside of Beijing, then no medical is required in advance and you’ll simply email scans of your authenticated documents to your school.

On average, the time taken for this stage of the process is 2-4 weeks.

3. Work Permit Notice Application – 2-3 weeks

Once you’ve authenticated and sent your documents to your school, they will then apply for your Work Permit Notice in China. This takes an average of 2-3 weeks to be issued.

4. Obtain Visa – 2 weeks

Upon receiving your work permit you’ll then be able to apply for your Chinese Z Visa. To do this you’ll make an appointment at your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate (which normally takes around 1 week). You’ll then attend your appointment and submit your official visa application (check our Visa Guide for details on this), and within 3-4 working days your  Z Visa will be issued and put inside your passport!

5. Prepare to Fly1-2 weeks

Once you’ve obtained your Z Visa you’ll be able to fly to China. How long this stage takes will completely depend on the teacher. Some teachers will want to fly out immediately after obtaining their visa, whereas others may want to spend a couple of weeks saying their goodbyes and getting fully prepared for the move. Typically though, most teachers have boarded a flight and made the journey to China within two weeks of receiving their visa.

6. Arrive in China 1-2 weeks

As we explain in our blog Your First Few Weeks in China – What to Expect, you won’t be teaching straight away when you first arrive in the country. Your first 1-2 weeks will consist of finding an apartment, opening a bank account, finalising your residency permit, orientation, and teacher training. Once you’ve finalised all of these initial essentials you’ll finally step foot in front of a classroom and start teaching!

Average Timeframe = 12 weeks / 3 Months

On average the current time frame from ‘Apply Now’ to your first day teaching English in China is around 12 weeks / 3 months!