Internship in China: rules & tips for foreign students



Internship in China? This article is not only interesting for students seeking for internship in China, but also companies operating in China and willing to offer students the opportunity to work in their China office and probably also expatriates living in Beijing, as their child studying abroad may be interested to come over China for internship while his parents are working in Beijing.

Nowadays, doing an internship abroad is a must, not only for a matter of improving CV but also to receive exposure to a different culture, improve language skills (Chinese and English)… Getting a job experience in China will definitely improve the student work experience in a competitive job market. China, whose economy is still growing, looks like an attractive option.

There is a but: students will need a visa to come over China … and it seems that regulations are extremely vague regarding the type of visa you need to do an internship in China. Indeed, students seeking for internship in China can’t get a work visa (Z) as they don’t fulfill – at least – the “minimum 2 years working experience abroad” and eventually the license level. Since there is not yet an official regulation about visa for foreign students doing internship in China, we will only share some insights about possible options !


Insights about visa options for an internship in China

Since there is not yet an official regulation for visa for foreign internship in China, we are sharing the possible options to stay within the law. 

China-Country-Testimonial-3M Visa for business and work internships: Until 2013, the F Visa was THE option for those coming to China on a business-related internship. However, the M visa is targeting at foreigners who will spend less than six months in China during any one calendar year + be frequently entering and leaving China (usually 1 month entry then need to exit) + not hold a formal senior position at an entity based in China + not receive payment from a company incorporated in China. In addition, the government has deleted reference to internship in M or F visa.

X Visa for internships while studying: for those studying in China and holding an X Visa, they will be allowed to perform internships or paid work but they must first submit an internship application to their school and obtain their approval. Once done, the student should then go to the Entry and Exit Office the city’s main Public Security Bureau to update his residence permit with details on the place he will be working or interning at and the period of time that he will be employed for. This option is valid both for part-time job or internship with pay or internship without pay.
Not valid for students with X2 visa.

Don’t go for the illegal option: It is absolutely illegal to perform internships on a Tourist Visa, aka L Visa. The risk: fines for sure, but most likely also deportation and forbidden to enter China at least for a period of time. Again, many China internships are now illegal, better to check twice if your internship will be legal than to run into trouble! 

More information: check this link! Regulation may differ from province to province. 


Third-party companies providing internship programs in China

Joint-Chinese-Internship-ProgramThose companies are charging fees for helping students to find internship in China and solve visa issues. In most cases, those companies offer both language training and internship program, together with visa and accommodation services. The competition to get an internship in China is fierce and third-party internship organizers report a rising number of applicants and interns, and have to select the candidate that best match the internships offered by Chinese companies. 

We are only sharing a list of companies offering this kind of services; we didn’t work with any of them and can’t share any feedback or comment:

  • Asbolute internship:
  • CET Academic Programs:
  • Chinese culture center:
  • CIEE Study Abroad:
  • Gi2C internship in China:
  • Go Abroad China:
  • Hutong School:
  • Intern Asia:
  • Internship in China:
  • LTL China (Live The Language):
  • MCO China Internships:
  • Smart intern China:
  • again, the list is not exhaustive! 


It also depends on the country of origin! 

Regulation for visa may also depend on the country of origin… and may also vary on year-to-year basis!


Internship opportunities in NGO and Governmental Organizations (Foreign embassies…)

ed9bc4af-f3b5-4243-854f-15c70e10c1d4Some examples of institutions (Non-governmental Organizations and Governmental Organizations) offering internship options in China. Actually most embassies and consulates offer internship opportunities and we recommend you check the website of your own country to find out more.

Of course, students with Mandarin skills will be given priority… 


  • US commercial service in China (Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy and in the U.S. Consulates): The website clearly stipulates that this internship is unpaid, all locations offer an equally rewarding experience working with the U.S. Commercial Service.
  • United Nations Development Programme: qualification and other requirements are available from the website.
  • British Council (The United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities): works with CRCC ASIA and Intern China to offer internship opportunities to British students. 
  • European Chamber of Commerce and Industry. You can find internship opportunities from the job vacancies section of their website:

Note: some job search websites also show internship offers. 


Hiring local interns

This section offers an alternative for companies who can’t offer internship to foreign students and are seeking to hire Chinese interns.

– only for students who have not yet obtained their graduation certificate or diploma.
– a part-time work-study arrangement is not considered employment.
– no employment relationship is constituted: the Labor Contract Law doesn’t apply: the employer doesn’t need to sign a labor contract with the student. However, signing an internship agreement with their Chinese interns will definitely help to clarify issues such as confidentiality, the intern’s obligations and terms of payment.
– the company is not an employer and will not be required to pay social welfare contributions or severance payment at the termination of the internship. Company may purchase commercial insurance for interns, as it shall assume full liability for their work-related injuries.
– minimum wage standards are not applicable to interns. Employers can give an internship allowance.

Once the student is graduated, the relationship will be considered an employment. The company has one month to provide with labor contract.


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I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!