The Visa Process: What to expect

Moving to China is such an exciting process filled with so many life changes – new job, new country, new apartment, new friends, everything!  The thrill of it is something we all love.  Getting there though, means you have to get a working visa so you can be a legal resident.  The paperwork can be overwhelming at first, but in addition to our skilled visa team, we also wanted to put together an overview to give you a sense of both the costs and the timeline involved.

Step 1:  Police check:  You will need to get a police check (FBI check for Americans) and then have it authenticated.  For Americans, we recommend getting an FBI check from this organization:  https://accuratebiometrics.comand then sending it here to be authenticated:

While local police checks will suffice for the visa, not all local checks in the US will have the format that the Chinese consulate will accept, which is why we recommend the FBI check.  For those not in the US, the information is all on the local Chinese consulates in your country.  Still not sure, of course ask your recruiter!

Time: 3-8 weeks, so start early in case you hit roadblocks

Cost:  FBI check:  $55 + mailing fees.   Authentication is about $250 in total with the agent.

Step 2:  Degree authentication:  Great news!  This step you just need to send information to your recruiter.   Here is what we need:

  • Color scan of your degree
  • CV – in a specific format
  • Passport sized photo – needs to be at least 150KB in size.
  • Passport Information page scan

Time/Cost – just what you pay to get the scans

Step 3:  Medical Examination and reference letter:  Your recruiter will send you a medical form to have filled out by a doctor and you’ll need to obtain a reference letter.

Time/Cost:  Varies depending on what you pay at the doctor – can be just a co-pay or up to $400.

Step 4:  Visa processing – once you’ve collected all the documents listed in Steps 1-3, we submit everything to the Foreign Expert Bureau for processing.  Some cities require mailing of original documents to China.

Time/Cost – 20 working days and mailing costs.

Step 5:  Obtain Visa:  After the processing time is complete, we will obtain a foreign expert certificate and send it to you via email.  You will then need to take this along with your passport to your local Chinese consulate to obtain your visa.  If you do not live near a consulate you can hire an agent to go to the consulate for you.  There are many good agents out there, but here is one we’ve had success with:

Time: Anywhere from 2 -10 days

Cost:  $140 at the consulate + $30 expedite fees.  Agency fees are typically around $100-$150 + shipping fees

The whole process can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks if you are really organized and get your documents together quickly.  Be sure and save your receipts for reimbursement after you arrive, and as always, pick up the phone and call the recruiter if you are unsure at any stage in the process.

Get ready, your adventure is just getting started!


–Jessica Keller