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Complete Checklist for USA citizens applying for work visa and flying to China

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This tick list is accurate as of 15th November 2020. Be sure to check at each stage for any updates to the procedures.

For any questions please get contact with your Gold Star recruiter, or contact us here or speak with the HR department at your school.

Important note about your passport:
Your passport must have at least 1 year validity and 5 blank pages and have no damage such as creased pages or water damaged pages. If your passport does not meet these criteria your work visa could well be rejected, so please apply for a new passport.

Please note, if you already have a residence permit from China that expired after 28 March 2020, you can apply for a renewed work visa. Please contact us for details.

Visa Process

-Consider using a visa agency or HR company to assist you with the whole process, CYI can do it for you all for free, and 100% Professional and fast results. o assist with the process. We can offer free advice or take care of the entire process for free

Google China visa agents in your area for more options

1) Get Criminal Background Check notarised and authenticated

Apply for a Criminal Background Check, also known as an Identity History Summary Check. This is an official statement stating that you do not have a criminal record. This document will be valid for the purpose of the China visa application for six months from its issue date.

There are two options: a) federal level check (FBI) b) state level check . Check with your school which is required, usually a federal level check if preferrable.

Procedure for criminal background check from the FBI:
NOTE: submitting your fingerprints electronically via the post office service is significantly quicker than submitting via mail:
-Visit the FBI page here for instructions
-Confirm your nearest post office which is authorised to submit your request by entering your zip code here. You may also choose an FBI-approved Channeler or if you are already in China, refer to the US embassy page.
-Submit your request here. IMPORTANT: check the box requesting a hard copy of the results
-They will email you your results within 24 hours and send the hard copy by mail within 7 days
-Get your Criminal Background Check document authenticated by the US Department of State. Make sure to inform them the document is intended for China.

Procedure for criminal background check from state level:
-Go to your home state website and request a criminal history check
-Get the document authenticated by the Secretary of State from the state where you live. You can see a list of sample documents and below that links to the state offices here or at the bottom of this page and also on the Chinese embassies page here.
-Make sure to inform them the document is intended for China.

2) Get degree diploma notarised and authenticated

1- Obtain from the registrar of the University an official true copy of your degree diploma. The registrar should then execute an affidavit attesting to the validity of the document before a notary public.
2- Take the document, with the notarial certificate to the State Notary Public Administrator (scroll down to bottom half of the page) for authentication. Make sure to inform them the document is intended for China. Check this website for samples for each state.
3- A diploma authenticated in some states must be further authenticated by the US Department of State. These states include Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, Washington DC, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island.

Please see this guide for more details on the process.

3) Get TEFL certificate notarised and authenticated (if required)

Check with your school whether you need to get your TEFL certificate notarised and authenticated. In some cases, if you have sufficient teaching experience for example, you do not need a TEFL certificate for the work visa application.

The process is the same as for your degree diploma, it needs to be notarised in the state or country where it was issued.

4) Get Criminal Background Check, degree and (in some cases) TEFL certificate notarised by the Chinese embassy / consulate

-List of Chinese embassies and consulates in The US

-Submit your criminal background check, degree diploma and (if required) TEFL certificate to be notarised at the Chinese embassy / consulate responsible for the states where the documents were issued. For example: if your university degree is from Indiana, it needs to be notarised at the Chicago consulate.

-You can submit the documents yourself or have a visa agent or trusted person submit them for you

-Consider using a visa agent for this step too. See links above.

5) Medical Check Certificate

You may be required to provide this, however, you may not. Please check with your school to ask if it is required.
-Book an appointment with your local doctor
-Download and print the form and take it to the doctor’s with you
-You might not have to have the blood test, chest x-ray or ECC tests done, please check with your school
-Make sure the doctor writes ‘healthy’ and signs at the bottom of the form
-Doctor must stamp over your photo on the top right of the form and at the bottom of the form
-The health check certificate is valid for 6 months from date it was issued

6) Email notarized and authenticated documents to your school in China

7) School applies for ‘PU letter’ (invitation letter) and work permit notification letter

-Process can take around 3 weeks

8) Apply for China Work Visa at the Chinese embassy / consulate

-List of Chinese embassies and consulates in the US. Your application must be submitted to the embassy / consulate that deals with the State you live in.

General information and work visa application procedures on the Chinese embassy website

-Download the visa application form for China and read the FAQ on how to apply for the visa.

-Getting an appointment can be tricky, some of our teachers have used a visa agent to book the appointment for them as they can have a preferential access to appointments. See links at the start of this guide for visa agents.

-Try phoning, emailing and booking an appointment online regularly. Use ‘URGENT’ in your email title. We have heard from teachers who were first told there was along delay for booking an appointment and when they tried again a few days later managed to get an appointment for the following week.

-Please note: we have heard from teachers who have applied for Z, M, or F visas. Once they arrive in China the visa is then converted to a residence permit by the school which allows you to live and work in China. Please check with your school on what type of visa you should apply for.

9) Book flight

-Confirm the target arrival date with your school before booking the flight.

-Make sure you book a flight that is approved to fly to China. Some websites list flights even though they are not approved to fly to China and are therefore likely to be cancelled.

-Here is a list of most of the approved flights to China (scroll down) as of 5 November 2020, be sure to check for an updated list of approved flights

-It is strongly suggested that you book a direct flight rather than one with a stopover. If you have a stopover, you will need to get a new COVID and IgM antibody test within 2 days of boarding your onward flight to China.

-If possible, book a flight that flies between Wednesday and Sunday, as you need to get a COVID PCR and antibody test (see below for more details) within 2 days of your flight, so ideally you don’t want to have to deal with the test center over the weekend.

-Book directly on the airlines website. Using a Chinese airline is also advisable as it may be less likely to be cancelled.

-Alternatively, consider using a travel agent, they can offer flexible dates in case you need to change your flight and we have heard reports that a return flight can be cheaper than a one-way.

FlightRadar24 is a useful site for checking the flight history of any flight for the last 7 days and for the coming 7 days, so you can check that certain flights actually flew and were not cancelled. Click Data / History at the top and search for the intended flight numbers.

10) Get a PCR nucleic acid COVID test and IgM antibody test within 2 days of flying

-Make sure to self-isolate as much as possible in the weeks before your flight, you don’t want to get COVID and have to cancel your flight

-According to this announcement from the Chinese embassy, starting from 6th November 2020, passengers traveling from The USA to China need to provide:
a) negative PCR nucleic acid CVOID test (this is a swab test to test if you have CVOID)
b) IgM antibody test (this is a blood test to test if you have antibodies)

FAQ from the Chinese embassy on 15th November for the COVID PCR and antibody tests

– If your flight is on Friday, you can get the PCR and IgM antibody tests done any time on Wednesday

– The test report needs to include: passenger’s name, date of birth, passport number, the testing agency’s address, contact number and email, the date the sample was taken, the date the report was issued and the test results (PCR and IgM results). The passenger’s name has to match their name on their passport.

Both tests have to be conducted within 2 days of boarding the flight to China. Please note, it is not from the date that the test results are issued, but rather from the date the sample was provided for the test. Please make sure to check the latest news from the Chinese embassy and airline to ensure this information is still accurate.

It is strongly recommended that you book a direct flight from the USA to China. If you have to transit in another country on your way to China, you will have to get another negative COVID and IgM antibody test in the transit country before you can board the connecting flight on to China. It will be quite challenging to get the required tests in time.

Please note, you require an IgM antibody test, not an IgG antibody test. IgM is usually the first antibody produced by the immune system when a virus attacks. A positive IgM test indicates that you may have been infected and that your immune system has started responding to the virus. When IgM is detected you may still be infected, or you may have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection. If you had a COVID infection some time ago, you are unlikely to have levels of IgM antibodies that would disqualify you from flying to China. If you have recently been infected with COVID, you are likely to have IgM antibody levels that disqualify you from flying to China.

-Google options near you. Find one that offers guaranteed results within a certain time frame, so you can be sure you will have the results on time.

11) Email negative nucleic acid COVID and IgM antibody test result to Chinese Embassy

-Complete this health declaration form

-The test report needs to include: passenger’s name, date of birth, passport number, the testng agency’s address, contact number and email, the date the sample was taken, the date the report was issued and the test results (PCR and IgM results). The passenger’s name has to match their name on their passport.

Email the following to the appropriate Chinese embassy / consulate:

  • Negative COVID and IgM antibody test result
  • ID page passport scan
  • Flight itinerary
  • Signed, copy of the health declaration form

Passengers must email the scanned copies of their negative results of the nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests along with their passport information page and the signed health declaration form to the Chinese Embassy/Consulates (based on the consular district of the testing place), which will examine and verify the above information and email the certified health declaration form back to the passenger. Passengers are advised to print the form out and present it within its validity period to the airlines flying directly to China before boarding.

Embassy in the United States: embchn@gmail.com

(temporarily in charge of the consular district of the Consulate General in Houston)

Consulate General in New York: cnnyhdf@gmail.com

Consulate General in San Francisco: health.sfconsulate@gmail.com

Consulate General in Los Angeles: click here to submit online

Consulate General in Chicago: 12308chicago@gmail.com

For the subject line of your email use “URGENT – HS+passenger name+Date of departure”, e.g. URGENT – HS+Jack Smith+28th October 2020.

-The Chinese embassy will email you with a stamped health declaration form, usually within a few hours or sooner. Print all the documents and certified health declaration and take them to the airport with you.

12) Arrival at the airport

-Get to the airport at least 4 hours before your flight as check in process takes longer than usual.

-Make sure to bring your stamped health declaration form, original negative COVID and IgM antibody test result and passport

-Also bring all your notarized documents (degree, TEFL, criminal background check) as they will be needed to get your residence permit in China

Things to bring:
-Boarding pass
-Negative COVID and IgM antibody test result, issued within 2 days of your flight – check specific airline requirements to confirm requirements on this
-Printed signed and stamped health declaration form from Chinese embassy
-Valid Chinese visa or residency permit
-All your notarized documents (degree, TEFL, criminal background check)
-Masks & hand sanitiser
-Phone with WeChat installed – this is needed for processing on arrival
-Download and complete the WeChat mini program ‘Customs Pocket Declaration’ on the WeChat app on your phone – instructions on how to get it here
-Enough cash in Chinese RMB to cover the quarantine costs and food or money on WeChat Pay or AliPay if possible
-Power bank to ensure your phone has power on arrival
-Name and phone number of a contact person in China
-Download a VPN, if you wish, for use in China as they are hard to get once you arrive
-Food for the flight – some airlines only provide limited food
-Store on your phone, as will be required for forms: passport number, visa number, flight number, seat number, address in China (in Chinese and English), emergency contact in USA, emergency contact person in China and their phone number

13) Quarantine for 14 days on arrival in China

-Once your plane arrives in China you will be taken to a quarantine hotel for your 14 day quarantine. The reports from teachers who have been through it have said things are organized very well, the hotels are of a good quality (similar to what you would expect from a 3 or 4 star hotel stay). They provide 3 meals a day.

-Here’s a YouTube video of the quarantine process

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