As a leader in terms of economic growth, China has become an intriguing place to pursue a degree abroad for students coming from Europe, USA and other parts of Asia.
International students will experience a rigorous but comprehensive education and they are guaranteed to improve their career prospects. Apart from being exposed to excellent teaching, you will immerse in the Chinese culture, which will certainly expand your life perspectives and personal goals.
But after you are accepted at a Chinese university, there's one more step you need to make: applying for a student visa. Let's explore how the visa application process looks and what you need to know before applying.
1. Apply to a Chinese university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in China, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a Chinese university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.
Consider some great universities in China:
- Zhejiang University
- Peking University
- Tsinghua University
- Nankai University
- Nanjing University of Technology
2. Find out what type of visa you need to study in China
Depending on the length of their studies, international students should apply for one of the following visas before travelling to China:
- F visa: for students who plan to study in China for less than 6 months
- X visa: for students who plan to study in China for more than 6 months
After your arrival, you have 30 days to apply for a Residence Permit for Foreigners, which will allow you to stay in China for the full duration of your studies. You can submit your application for a residence permit at a division of exit-entry administration of the local public security bureau.
3. When and where to apply for the student visa?
Citizens from the European Union (EU) and other countries (e.g. the UK, Australia, Canada, etc.) can apply through the CVASC (Chinese VISA Application Service Centre).
- If there is no CVASC office in your home country, you can simply apply at the local Chinese embassy or consulate.
- Submit the application in person or with the help of a travel agency or a visa agency that can act on your behalf if you can't come personally.
- Mailed applications are not accepted, thus will be refused by most Chinese embassies.
- You won’t need an appointment for most embassies and consulates. You can visit the visa office anytime during business hours, but it is usually better if you come before 11:30 a.m.
- If you submit your application through CVASC, you may be required to make an online appointment on the website.
4. Additional visa information
You should apply for a study visa for China around one month before your intended date of arrival in China, but it is recommended not to apply earlier than 3 months before that date.
Usually, all Chinese embassies are very efficient and the processing time for a visa may only take one week or even less. Still, to avoid any delays or problems, we recommend to start the visa application process as soon as you can.
5. Language requirements for studying in China
There are no specific language requirements to be eligible for a Chinese study visa. However, since most universities offer courses that are taught in English, they will require proof of English language proficiency during the application process.
These are some of the most popular English tests accepted by Chinese universities:
- IELTS Academic (accepted by all universities)
- TOEFL iBT (accepted by all universities)
- The International English Test (IET)
- PTE Academic
During your interview at the Chinese embassy or consulate you will also have to speak in one of the international languages; most likely, the easiest and most convenient language would be English.
6. Documents required for the visa application in China
- Original passport (with at least one blank page and valid for at least 6 months after your expected date of departure from China)
- Completed application form
- One passport type photograph
- Original and a copy of acceptance letter from the university
- Proof of paying the visa application fee (around 66 USD)
- A photocopy of previous Chinese passports (only applicable to foreign citizens who were once Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship)
- Proof of legal status in the country where you’re applying for the visa, such as a resident permit (if you’re applying for the visa outside your country of citizenship)
- Copy of air plane tickets and accommodation arrangements
Applicants who are over 18 years old and and plan to study in China for more than 180 days need to provide a valid physical examination record
Depending on your nationality, you might be asked to provide additional documents.
More detailed information for students outside the EU
7. Working in China as an international student
International students are allowed to take part-time jobs during their studies, or to engage in paid internships on campus, under the following condition: they must obtain permission both from their host university and the Chinese immigration authorities.
The university issues an approval letter and the hiring company will also give out a certification. The next step is for the police station to mark your visa "Part-time-work". However, you cannot apply for a different job at a different company in case you change your mind.
As a foreigner in China, English is a highly valued skill. English tutoring and teaching jobs are in high demand, so you should try to find this kind of opportunities.
For any additional information regarding the study visa for China, visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.