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When seeking an internship in China, it's important to make certain that your employer and/or provider is submitting you for the correct visa and work permit. Foreign interns in China need to have a "special business F visa" that specifically prohibits compensation. Be wary of any provider promising paid internships in China. For more information, check out these resources: R&P Lawyers & China Briefing.
China's capital, Beijing literally means the "Northern Capital". The second largest city in China, after Shanghai, Beijing is one of the major players in China's economy and business relations. Not only is Beijing commonly chosen as a central location for China's biggest names, but it is also the preferred city of foreign companies; from start-ups to multinationals. Beijing is definitely a prime location to choose for interning abroad. You will get to know another country, discover a whole different world and culture, meet people from all around the globe, and build a strong network. Moreover, you will get to know yourself, and improve your resume with strong international professional experience.
While business and international relations are the most popular fields for internships in Beijing, it is possible to find an internship in almost every field. You will most likely want to return to Beijing once you've completed your internship!
And the list could go on! In Beijing, there has to be something in it for everyone, so if your field isn't listed, don't despair! To begin your internship hunting, go on search engines or on internship placement agencies websites, such as the Hutong School.
Finding an internship in Beijing is possible at any time of the year, and for any duration, although companies usually prefer a minimum of 1 month. Using an internship placement program to find an internship makes things easier, as you will be provided with support throughout the application process. The length of your stay is up to you, but be sure to consider that you will need time to get settled, get to know the city, and learn how to get around. It is generally a good idea to begin searching for an internship position at least 3 months in advance, in order to have the time to apply for a visa, book flights, learn more about your future company, and arrange housing.
It is suggested to visit some trusted websites to gather information about Beijing. Here are some useful links!
Although the F Visa is the best for interning in China, the Tourist Visa (or L Visa) could be an alternative for 1 month or less internship (which is the maximum length of stay for the L Visa). The maximum length of stay varies from 30 days to 6 months.
When applying for a visa, you will be asked to choose between a single, double or multiple entry visa. Single entry doesn't allow the traveler to go out the country and come back, double entry allows two entries in the country, and the multiple entry visa allows unlimited travels. The price increases according to the number of entries.
To enter China, the visa procedure must be done before departing, no visas are delivered at the airport or the border. To get a visa, it is possible to either ask a traveling agency to take care of the procedures, or to go directly to the Chinese embassy. Be aware that when applying for a Chinese Visa, you might not get the visa you're asking for.
Overstaying in China without a valid visa is prohibited by Chinese law, and could lead to an expensive penalty, and even a stay in jail.
In order to get a F Visa, the following documents are required:
Normally, companies that frequently take interns are aware of visa procedures; Request a full list of visa requirements from the company you will be interning for, or your university. You can also find more information on China visas at VISA HQ.
As a foreigner traveling in China, it is mandatory to register at the local police station within the first 24 hours. It is also strongly recommended to always carry your registration proof, and your address of stay written in Chinese.
China's currency is the Renminbi Yuan (RMB) which means People's currency. In northern China, and especially in Beijing, it is also known as kuai. According to numbeo.com, the cost of living in Beijing is about half of the cost of living in an average American city. It is a fact that the average cost of living is lower than in the US and UK, but only if you live as a local. Start living as most expats, and you'll see your monthly budget rise drastically! The amount you decide to put on groceries and restaurants, or on entertainment and short trips is up to you. If you live on a shoestring or share a small apartment, limit your expenses, and get around by bike, you can get by with 6000 RMB per month. To live more comfortably in a studio or in a big shared apartment, and to not have to watch your expenses, consider spending between 9,000 to 14,000 RMB per month.
Examples of costs in Beijing:
In Beijing, like in most metropolitan cities in China, employers are used to hiring foreigners, therefore they are also familiar with the work culture of other countries. It wouldn't be surprising if your company allows you to work according to the standards of your country, even though Chinese citizens usually work from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, plus extra hours regularly.
It is also common to eat outside, just feel the pulse when your job will start. Bringing your own lunch or not is up to you, but know that generally employees of the same company have a pretty close relationship and frequently go to a restaurant together or to take out food during lunch time.
In business fields, English is most commonly used, although Mandarin is the official language in Beijing. You will be required to be at least fluent in English and/or Mandarin in order to work in Beijing.
To be successful, have cultural sensitivity, a sense of humor, patience, and a strong work ethic!
Networking: If you use an internship placement program, besides providing support and giving useful advice, you will also have the opportunity to meet other young professionals interning or working in Beijing. Furthermore, there are dedicated websites, focused on professional and social networking, and events promotion.
Check out these links to find out more about professional and social events happening in Beijing:
According to Chinese laws and regulations, it is illegal for interns with an F business Visa to get paid. Be aware that to be legally eligible to get paid for working in China, one needs a Z employment Visa, which is much more difficult to get, and the applicant must meet rigorous prerequisites.
As the capital of the most populous country in the world, Beijing is one of the most exciting political, educational, and cultural centers in the world. Employers are definitely impressed by an internship abroad - especially by one you completed in the fastest growing economy of today.
Laura Lee Moreau is a Montreal-based Graphic & Web Designer. She really enjoys to design designs for people who enjoy good designs, well especially very nice designs. After studying Graphic Design and working as a Graphic Designer in Montreal, she got an internship in Beijing, which led her to an Artistic Director position. She is now back in Canada and is employed by an Environmental Graphic Design and way-finding company in Montreal, QC. She is also a wanna-be marathoner and an avid globetrotter who dreams one day to live and work in 10 different cities. Follow her at blog at Laura Le Moreau.
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