You should not teach English in China without the work visa. The government is now cracking down on foreigners working illegally in China, and, as a result, the school may ask you to get a work visa prior to your arrival in order to avoid paying hefty fines. Many schools, like English First, will help you get the work visa. If the school will not help you out, then read this blog.
Get the Work Visa – TEFL China
The Chinese consulate website in Toronto is written in a style of English that is typical throughout China and can be very confusing. If you Google “China visa,” the first few hits will be for visa services. This means they will break it down for you about what you need to do and go through the hassles of dropping off and picking up the applications for you for a fee. This might be your choice if you don’t want to decipher the website yourself and/or do not live near any of the Chinese consulates in Canada, which are located in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa. Make sure to do some comparison shopping between websites as I’ve noticed significant discrepancies.
Vaccination – TEFL China
I also visited a travel clinic to update all my shots. The series of shots for Hepatitis A and B will take at least one month, so I would start as soon as I’ve decided to go. And because I was going to an area near the equator, I was also advised to get several others for protection since the level of public sanitation is not as high in China (remember, no toilet paper or soap in the bathrooms). Unfortunately, this is no longer covered by OHIP, and costs could run upwards of $700 depending on the shots you need.
In the meantime, I had a full physical examination from my family physician. The school wanted me to send a completed Foreigner Physical Examination Form, which can be filled out by your doctor at the same time (a copy can be e-mailed to you if this is what the school wants). The physical was covered by OHIP, but filling out the form had an extra charge. Doing this in Canada may spare you another one when you arrive in China.
Speaking of OHIP, you will need to consider whether you wish to continue your provincial health coverage while overseas. The rules differ by province, but if you have been out of the country for longer than a certain length of time, you are no longer covered. Your travel insurance only works while you still have provincial health coverage (should you decide to get some, the most affordable one I have found is offered by Travel Cuts). Ontario Health has the option for an extended work absence (as opposed to vacation), which may be handy for those of you who plan to be outside of Canada for extended periods of time in the future. I would call my provincial health office to look into my options.
Right before I left for China, I scanned all of my important information and documents to take with me. This included my passport, visa, driver’s license, health card, SIN card, birth certificate, degree, and TESOL certificate. You might be required to bring the originals of the last two items with you to China. I just felt safer having copies of these documents with me in case I needed to prove my identity.