"Z" Working Visa allows a person to reside and work in China on a letter of invitation from a school and province for the duration of the contract plus 30 days of travel following the end of the contract. This has been a standard visa used for foreign teachers and experts. The dates on the visa are only good for entry into China within a 90-day period of time and not beyond. The document that verifies your living and working limits in China is the Residency Permit issued to you by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) governing your school’s location. By government regulation, you must be registered with your local PSB within 30 days of your arrival in China or you will be illegal. If the school does not register you and it is their fault, they are normally heavily fined.
Your Residency Permit identifies you by photo, name, and personal details. When you are registered at PSB, the date of your registration and the date that you will be expected to leave China are written into this card. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CHECK THE ENDING DATE! The ending date should reflect the 30 travel days you have available for personal travel following the ending date of your contract. If it does not, you must ask your foreign affairs officer to have the date changed. If you do not check, and the 30 extra days are not there, and you decide to travel, you will be stopped an any hotel and told you are illegal and have about 24 hours to leave the country. If you remain in the country, you will be illegal and subject to deportation if caught, and/or heavily fined as an "overstay." The fine is normally 500 Yuan RMB per day of overstay.
"Z" visas are normally single entry visas. If you wish to travel outside of China during your contracted time, you MUST obtain a re-entry stamp from PSB. This is normally done through your school. There may be a cost.
When leaving China, you must give over your Residency Permit at Immigration and your original visa becomes invalid. If it is discovered that you are an "overstay," that is where you will pay any fines. This has happened to past teachers. When leaving, you must present your passport and your valid Residency Permit. If your Residency Permit is lost or you do not have it, you will most probably be charged 500 Yuan RMB for each day of overstay commencing with when your entry visa expired. 500 Yuan RMB = $60 USD/day.
*Be reminded that "Z" visas cannot be changed into tourist/visitor visas while you are in China. To change your visa, or obtain a visitor visa, you must leave China to get it and then re-enter. Hong Kong is the nearest location for that service. Any hotel travel agent in Hong Kong can help you. You cannot work in China on an "L" visa
"F" Visas: Certain municipalities (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, certain east coastal areas) are able to hire teachers on a 6-month "F" visa and still take care of the residency side of the regulations by issuing a Temporary Residency Permit and Temporary Foreign Expert Card. "F" visas can be multiple entry visas, but are governed by the Letter of Invitation issued from the Provincial Foreign Affairs Office on behalf of your school. If you remain in China teaching at the same institution beyond the 6 months, your visa can be changed to a "Z" visa by your school. At that time, you will be given a permanent Residency Permit to validate the newly obtained "Z" visa. You will also need a full medical examination.
*Be reminded: An "F" visa can be changed into a "Z" visa, but this must be done through your school and further documentation at the PSB. Note what is described above.