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Starting the work adventure

Finding work in any country can be difficult, and if you're looking for work in China it's always best to have a contact within the country or work for a company that has overseas offices in China.

The number of foreigners working in China is growing by an annual 3.9% with 848,500 foreign residents recorded as living in China in 2013.

Starting from scratch

One of the easiest ways to start to look for a job in China independently is to use the internet.  Chinese websites are the most useful; though you might need to be able to read and understand Mandarin if applying for a job in this way. Though others recruit in the English language. Some multinationals advertise job openings on both U.S and U.K websites, and if your language knowledge isn’t proficient this is a good place to start your job search. 85% of expats working in China work for multinational companies. 

Specialists wanted

In common with many other countries, China's booming economy means that it has a skills shortage in many key areas. Some skills are always in demand, and these are in the areas of: 

  • Banking
  • Accounting
  • Law/legal services
  • Teaching
  • Advertising and marketing

Learn the language

If you are thinking of applying for a job in China or asking your company to transfer you there, it's essential that you have a working knowledge of Mandarin. The U.S recruitment company, Hudson suggests that ‘a certain level of Mandarin is an advantage.' And, if you want a good salary in China, then fluency in the language is essential. 

Starting the process

Once you’ve decided to apply for a job in China, the process is arduous. It might be tempting to travel to China on a tourist visa and work illegally in the country, figures from the 2010 census revealed that 200,000 foreigners worked illegally in the country. Following the crackdown on those expats working in China on an F - Visa — a short-term visa, before the Olympics and after, many foreigners were caught out.

The correct business visa is a Z-visa, and if you already have an employer, your company will arrange this. Otherwise, the FCO website will give you the information that you need. An estimated 2 million workers were employed legally in 2015, according to Human Resources company, Foreign HR.

Registration is imperative

You won’t only have to have the correct work visa for working in China. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also emphasis that all foreign nationals living or even staying temporarily in China have to register with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival. Anyone intending to stay for more than 180 days must also apply for a Residence Permit. Even if you have one of these, but have left the country for a short time, you’ll have to re-register on your return to China.

There are many different types of visa for anyone wishing to visit China, and the easiest way top ensure that you have the correct visa is to visit the website of the Chinese Embassy.

Correct documentation helps

Proof of academic achievement will certainly help you in your job search, so it's a good idea to take copies of all of your degrees, and professional qualifications to prove that you have the necessary expertise for the job. If you have a criminal record, you will not be able to get a work visa. Be prepared to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to prove that you don't have a criminal record, and don't be surprised if the Chinese Embassy asks to have this document legalised. The FCO has more information about this process. 

Other ways of finding work

If you are thinking of studying in China and want to remain to explore the opportunities for working in the country, then an internship is a standard route. Work experience will demonstrate skills to any Chinese or multi-national employer and will show that you have a thirst for working in the country. 

Recent developments

The Chinese government has recently introduced a new system of putting foreigner workers in China into three distinct categories, and this will affect visa applications. The system started to be trialled on 1 November 2016 and is part of a wider programme of reforms introduced by Zhang Jianguo, leader of State Administration for Foreign Experts. The system has been devised in a bid to reduce the amount of bureaucracy required for overseas nationals planning to work in China. According to the official Chinese sources,  the three classifications will be as follows:

  • Class A for innovative and creative talent professionals
  • Class B is for those who can help China’s economic plans move forward and will also be suitable for professionals who can fill in ‘short term gaps.’
  • Class C is for unskilled workers, and these places will be limited

Clarification on this new policy is limited, are teachers an A or a B, for example? The system is points driven, and the highest amount of points will go to those who can speak the language, are of the right age and have the required skills. The new system will be rolled out across China by 1 April 2017.

If you have any queries about working in China and your health care needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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