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Authenticating Documents For The Chinese Work Visa

All Provincial Visa Offices across China now require a teacher to authenticate (legalize) their Degree Certificate and ‘No Criminal Record’ background check (and in some circumstances their TEFL/ TESOL/ CELTA certificate) in order to issue the work ‘z’ visa support paperwork.

UK Citizens

US Citizens

Australian Citizens

South African Citizens

Canadian Citizens

Irish Citizens

The Process:

Notarisation

This is the attestation by a Notary Public that the signature appearing on the document is true and genuine. This is usually completed in the country where the document originates. This may also be in the form of a certification which is made by a solicitor as to the signatures made on a document.

Apostille

A Government Official in the country of origin has to declare the signature of the Notary Public or the Solicitor as true and genuine. Authentication declares that the Apostille is  genuine prior to Legalisation. These are undertaken by a Home Office, e.g the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or Department of State.

Legalisation

The Chinese Embassy can now declare and accept the signature, seal or stamp appearing on the document as genuine.

Only once you have authenticated your documents and sent these by scanned copy to your employer school can their HR Team begin to submit your work ‘z’ visa application to the Provincial Visa Office.

Ensure you allow around 3 weeks to complete the process;

Some employer schools will contribute towards the costs of the authentication process; if your employer details this in your employment contract, ensure you keep all receipts or invoices.

Make sure to check that the awarding institution of your document is the same as the country it is being authenticated in. For example; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK can only legalise Degrees, TEFL Certificates and Criminal Record Checks, awarded from UK institutions.

The notarization and legalisation process differs from country to country – see below for a breakdown of document authentication for each country.

Process for Authentication of Documents for UK Citizens

The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for UK citizens.

It is important to note that although these are the most common documents needed for authentication, certain schools/ local visa offices may have different requirements. It is vital to double and triple check you have the correct documents and check if there are any specific wording needed or special requirements from the school for authentication.

Step 1

Apply for a DBS ‘no criminal record’ Check here, Note that although the service is from ‘Disclosure Scotland’ an applicant can be from any part of the UK. The cost of the disclosure is £25

Step 2

Arrange to have your Degree Certificate (and if required your TEFL certificate) notarised by a Solicitor or Public Notary in the UK. The Notary will make a copy of the document and attach a Letter of Attestation.

Prices vary depending on the service used, but will generally cost around £30 per document

Step 3

Certify the original copy of your DBS check (no photocopies allowed). The document can be sent back to the issuing authority  i.e Disclosure Scotland which will stamp it as a true document. If this is not an option, a solicitor or notary will be required to notarise in the same way as a degree certificate. Those using Disclosure Scotland, use the following link for direction on sending your document back: https://www.mygov.scot/get-disclosure-verified/

Step 4

Visit Gov.uk and follow the instructions to send all notarised documents (Degree and TEFL Certificates and DBS check) to the FCO to asses if the documents are genuine; they will attach apostilles to the back of the Letters of Attestations and return via post. This should be done within a week. Ensure documents are sent via recorded/ signed for delivery.

There are 2 options. Either a standard service (up to 10 days) costing £30 per document or an express service (1 day) costing £75 per document

*Note that the FCO will reject copies of the Criminal record check. The notorised document MUST be the original.

Step 5

Once the apostilles and documents are returned by the FCO, all documents must be taken to the Chinese embassy to be legalised. It is important to note that there is no postal service for this section of the process. For more detailed information on their requirements, visit the Chinese Embassy’s website http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/lsfw/legalization/

There are two options for legalisation through the Embassy, £15 (4 days) £30 (3 days) 

Step 6

Once documents are returned from the Chinese Embassy, send copies to your employer school via email. Their HR Team can then submit a work z visa application to the Provincial Visa Office. Typically, around 4 weeks later the Provincial Visa Office issue a work permit and invitation letter; this will be sent to you via email.

Only now can you submit a z visa application at the London, Manchester or Edinburgh Visa for China centre.

Following the guidelines on the Visa for China website using the Z visa category,  prepare all required documents. You will need to book an appointment if applying in person in London. There is also a postal service available. The standard visa takes 4 working days and can be tracked online.

Once processed, the visa will take the form of a physical sticker in your passport. The total processing cost of the visa is from £151.

Excluding the cost of the visa and allowing around £15 for postage, you would expect to to pay the following for the authentication process without using a service:

3 Documents (degree, DBS, TEFL) regular service (up to 3 weeks)- £240

3 Documents (degree, DBS, TEFL) Fastest possible service (less than 1 week)- £330

Process for Authentication of Documents for US Citizens

The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for US citizens.

Step 1

Attain a No Criminal Record Check from the relevant authority.

In the US, checks can be made at State level or Federal level. Check with your employer what their requirement is.

If a local or state level check is required you can go on your home State website or contact the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and request a form stating evidence of no criminal history.

As an example, in Virginia the website is as follows: http://www.vsp.state.va.us/CJIS_Criminal_Record_Check.shtm

If the Federal background check is required, you will need to apply for an FBI background check. Bare in mind this can take  8-10 weeks to complete.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks

Ensure this document is signed by the issuing authority.

Step 2

Have your degree certificate and TEFL certificate (if required) notorized by a public notary, in the state it was issued.

Step 3

All documents must be further authenticated to the Secretary of State in the your Home State, with an appropriate seal, signature, and easily recognised wording.

Department of State Document Authentication page:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal-considerations/judicial/authentication-of-documents/authentication-certificate-requirements.html

When you submit the document to Secretary of your State, indicate the document will be used in China, to ensure it is worded and laid out correctly.

You can find a list of State Authentication Offices here

http://www.visarite.com/authentication_sample.htm#office

Step 4

Complete the Application Form of Notarization/Legalisation of the Embassy/Consulate of the People’s Republic of China- http://www.visarite.com/images/authentication/G1.pdf

This must be submitted to the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate (usually in person, or by a nominated person/ agent) in addition to all notorised and legalised documents, for the final authentication seal and signature to be added.

There are 2 options. Either a standard service (up to 10 days) costing £30 per document or an express service (1 day) costing £75 per document

*Note that the FCO will reject copies of the Criminal record check. The notorised document MUST be the original.

Step 5

Once documents are returned from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate, send copies to your employer school via email. Their HR Team can then submit a work z visa application to the Provincial Visa Office. Typically, around 4 weeks later the Provincial Visa Office issue a Work Permit and Invitation Letter; this will be sent to you in your home country via courier.

Step 6

Once the Invitation Letter and Work Permit are returned from China you must make a Z visa application at your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Complete the Z visa application form-http://www.china-embassy.org/chn/lszj/bgxz/P020130830121570742708.pdf

Bring the completed form, along with your Invitation Letter, Work Permit, Passport and any other specified documents to the Embassy or Consulate. The regular processing time is 4 business days with an express service, processing the documents in 2-3 business days.

Regular service cost- $140

Express service- $160

Visit he Chinese Embassy’s website for more information- http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/

Process for Authentication of Documents for Australian Citizens

The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for Australian citizens.

It is important to note that although these are the most common documents needed for authentication, certain schools/ local visa offices may have different requirements. It is vital to double and triple check with your school’s HR department which documents need to be authenticated.

Step 1

Attain a No Criminal Record Check from the relevant authority.

Find out more about the requirements and the process for attaining a criminal record background check for China on the Australian Government Page.

http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/public-safety-and-law/police-and-crime-prevention/police-checks

Step 2

Your Bachelors Degree and TEFL Certificate must be notarized by any Australian notary public. The notary must also obtain verification from the issuing Education Institution

This can be completed in any territory or state in Australia.

Step 3

Once Education Documents are notarized, all documents (including No Criminal Record Check) are to be authenticated (not apostilled) by the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade or its Office in States or Territories. 

This can be arranged to be done either in person or by post.

The mailing service can only be used for Melbourne or Sydney.

Step 4

Finally, take your notorized and authenticated documents to the relevant Chinese Embassy or Consulate General.

You must take your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in the Jurisdiction where they were ‘notorized’, not ‘authenticated’. 

For example, if your documents are notarized in Queensland and authenticated in DFAT’s office in Sydney, they should be authenticated in the Chinese Consulate General in Brisbane and not the Consulate General in Sydney.

Process for Authentication of Documents for South African Citizens

Step 1

Obtain a Police Clearance Check from the Government of South Africa. Follow the link below to see how:

https://www.saps.gov.za/services/applying_clearence_certificate.php

Step 2

Your Bachelor’s certificate (and in some cases TEFL/ TESOL certificate) must be certified by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and then legalized through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

In some cases a TEFL Certificate will instead need to be notorized by a public notary and approved by the South African High Court.

Step 3

Once you have received the Police Clearance Check, it will also need to be legalized by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

This can be arranged to be done either in person or by post.

The mailing service can only be used for Melbourne or Sydney.

Step 4

Once all documents have been legalized by DIRCO, they must then receive a stamp of Authentication from the Chinese Embassy.

In order to attain this a Form of Authentication should be completed:

http://capetown.chineseconsulate.org/eng/bgdy/applicationformoflegalization/P020051014108378448028.pdf

You must then bring this from, along with the legalized documents (originals and copies), residence permit and passport to the nearest Chinese Consulate or Embassy and apply for the Authentication.

Learn more here 

Process for Canadian Citizens

The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for Canadian citizens.

Step 1

Degree Certificate, TEFL Certificate and Criminal Record Background Check are to be separately notarized by a local notary public, lawyer or Commissioner of Oaths of Canada.

These documents must be notarized where the Chinese Embassy holds consular jurisdiction, to be authenticated by the authentication office of the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department.

So if you intend to have your documents authenticated at the Consulate in Toronto, the documents must be notorized by a practitioner in Toronto.

Step 2

The notarized documents shall be authenticated by the Authentication and Service of Documents Section of Global Affairs Canada.

This step must be completed in the same territory or province as notorization in Step 1.

For instance, if your documents were notorized by a notary in Toronto they must be taken to the Global Affairs Canada office for Authentication in that region.

Step 3

The documents will finally need to be authenticated by the appropriate Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

As with the previous steps, the documents will need to be authenticated at the Embassy or Consulate in the same province or territory, that they were Notorized and Authenticated by Global Affairs Canada in.

Process for Irish Citizens

The following is a simple guide to the authentication procedure for Z visa documents for Irish citizens.

Apply for a Garda Police Certificate, issued by the Superintendent of the relevant district. Find out how to apply here https://www.garda.ie/en/About-Us/Online-Services/Data-Protection-FOI-Police-Certificates/Police-Certificates.html

Have your, Degree Certificate, TEFL Certificate and Garda Police Certificate notarized by a local notary public

Post the documents to the Legalization Office of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, or visit the Cork or Dublin office in person. See more: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/our-services/authenticating-documents/

After completing the initial stage of notarisation and legalization, submit the documents to the Chinese embassy or consulate for legalization. Note – This must be done in person or via a service.  

See the following link for an overview, and to download the application form: http://ie.china-embassy.org/eng/qzs/legalization/

Authentication Services

In most cases it will be easier (and in many cases more cost effective) to use a service that offers to complete all of the authentication steps on your behalf. It is important to ensure any notaries or solicitors you work with have a strong level of knowledge regarding the authentication process.

The Pathway To China does not specifically recommend any of the services below, but have knowledge that these organisations have provided successful support to candidates in the past.

VP Notaries (UK)

http://www.vpnotaries.co.uk

Edward Young, Notary Public London (UK)

http://www.notarypublicinlondon.com/legalisation-requirements/china-peoples-republic/authentication/

Chinese Notary (USA)

http://www.chinesenotary.com/document-authentication-apostle.html

China Visa Service Centre (USA)

http://www.mychinavisa.com/document-authentication/

Visarite (USA)

http://www.visarite.com/authentication.htm#.VvIYmuJ96Uk

 

Eamonn G Hall, Notary Public (IRE)

http://www.notaryinstitute.ie/