Types of China Visas
Option 1: Tourist Visa
This thirty-day, single-entry visa is what most tourists get to enter China. If you are working there, it may be possible to get a six-month, multiple-entry visa; contact your local consulate for more information. While it is not unheard of for a Westerner on a tourist visa to find work then convert to a work visa, it can be a hassle.
Option 2: Work Visa
This is the standard visa granted to those working in China. When you are offered a job you will be sent a letter of invitation by your danwei, or work unit, which you should then forward to a Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country. The duration of your visa will depend on the length of your contract.
As of fall 1995, foreign teachers are required to register with a new office, the International Education Consultant Service Center of Shanghai, which was created by the Shanghai Educational Association for International Exchanges. The center evaluates the credentials of foreigners wishing to teach in China and makes recommendations to interested schools. Limited information is available at this time; we suggest you contact the embassy (see below) for more information as it becomes available.
The U.S. State Department reports that an HIV test and general health check -up is required for those wishing to stay in China longer than nine months.
These health checks may be done in your home country, and you should be sure to bring your official test results with you to China (issued by a government facility, or notarized if issued by a private facility), or you may have to get another test done there.
If you have difficulties obtaining a visa and you are planning to fly through Hong Kong, it is often easier to obtain a visa for the People's Republic of China from a China Travel Service office in Hong Kong (there are nineteen branch offices there). Your paperwork can be processed in three days, or even faster if you are willing to pay the express service fee. It is always wise to make copies of any original document before mailing it to or leaving it at the embassy or consulate.