Criminal Background Checks for Teaching in China

Criminal Background Checks


Criminal background checks are the norm now to find employment teaching in China. What Chinese officials want to see is a local background check, i.e. a hometown background check. Generally, this is not too onerous a requirement. Many police departments provide this service within a day or so. You can also use one of the many online services, such as

Do not attempt to obtain or submit an FBI background check, NAC/NACI,  (National Agency Check/National Agency Check Inquiries). These,  or other type of clearances are nether necessary nor appropriate.  In the west, people are fairly mobile so to ask someone to submit a local background check for their current city may seem inadequate. After all, they might have arrests in neighboring cities, or across the country. Nonetheless, it is a local, current police check Chinese officials want.

Once you are hired, you should immediately go ahead and get your background check completed,. Here is why: once you are hired, (provided you are hired legally), your employer must submit a copy of your background check to the local officials. They will begin processing your paperwork to obtain a work permit and ultimately, a Z (work) visa. Thus, your entire hiring/visa process is held up until you submit the criminal background check.When you arrive in China, you will be expected to carry with you the original of the criminal background check for inspection by local officials.

What Are They Looking For: In a word, felonies. In the US, a felony is a more serious criminal offense where the defendant, if convicted, may face more than one year in jail, (thus being sent to prison in lieu of jail). Interestingly, after China imposed the criminal background check requirement, the number of applications to teach in China, dropped. According to friend in the recruiting business, applications  dropped over 40%. Make of that what ye will.

Consider this: Sometimes, if you are in a hurry,  it will be faster to simply order the check yourself online. In some cases, it can really cut days, or even a week or more, (depending upon jurisdiction) off the delivery date. I have known teachers sitting waiting, with a soon approaching flight date. with all their documents done, except the background check that was tied up in bureaucracy somewhere.
















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Being Sick in China

Teaching Sick in China

Illness in China

Illness in China




Almost like clockwork, about three weeks after a new teacher arrives in China, he gets a bout “Welcome to China” illness.  It feels like a mixture of a cold, the flu and being beat in as a member of a street gang.

The typical remedy is going to the hospital once or twice a day for a session of IVs that can last up to three hours.  When I first arrived in China, I became ill just before our long weekend classes. I was teaching all weekend and getting IV sessions before and after the teaching day. It was pretty miserable, but it went away after a few days.

IV therapy is used to treat common illness in China.

IV therapy is used to treat common illness in China.

The Chinese, more for cultural than medical reasons, make extensive use of IV therapy. There are huge rooms filled with walk-in IV patients. In the west, they would have picked up some pills on the way home from the doctor’s office.

I prefer the convenience of the pills. However, the IVs do work quickly to kick start the healing.

Chinese Medicine used for illness

Chinese Medicine

Before coming to China, you should have a supply of prescribed and OTC, (Over the counter medicine) to take with you. Unlike the United States, antibiotics are available OTC.  You can go into a drugstore and find antibiotics, there will be an English description of the product on the label too, (see photo below).

antibiotic label for illness

antibiotic label

An online Chinese-English  medical dictionary like Drdict can also be invaluable.

When it comes to antibiotics, try to find out what you have taken that worked before you come to China. You do not want to be fighting an illness and a reaction to the medicine at the same time.



Don’t Ride the First Horse…



Perils of riding the first horse to come along

China Teaching Perils


That’s one of the important pearls of wisdom my First Sergeant shared with me when I reported to my first duty posting in Korea.

And it applies equally to the ESL field around the world as well as ESL teaching in China..

As headmaster of Kenneth’s English School in Jilin, China, I often shared this with newly arrived teachers.

So, what does this riding a horse perils stuff mean?  In a nutshell, it means be choosy about whom you befriend.


Understand this, every large group and population has misfits, outcasts and exploiters, it is just the way of the world.  And they are always looking for someone to befriend or exploit.  When a new person arrives, they make a beeline for them.

I knew of a school that made the mistake of hiring a local drug dealer as a manager of the foreign teachers. Six months later the school fired six teachers after the drug-tested them. I have never heard of drug testing in China so I assume the Headmaster arranged this. In any event, one bad apple can spoil the bunch.


Now, at Kenneth’s English, our problem wasn’t really with our employees, (although we have have had, briefly, an oddball or two pass through our doors) so much as with people outside our school.

Her is a brief taxonomy of horses in China you do not want to ride:

The Blood-Sucker


vampire blood suckers


One particularly nasty exploiter is the one offering a “business opportunity”.  This blood-sucker usually initiates the scam by inviting you for “a dinner” at a restaurant.  Sometimes, the scammer will even be a parent of a student you teach.

What it eventually boils down to is you are asked to leave your current employer and become “partners” with the scammer.  It is a sweet sounding deal with fantastic projections and promises.

When you ask about your teaching visa status in China and the legality of this, you are told, “No problem, I have strong guanxie with government officials”.

A few months later, you will have yet to be paid, and discover you will have to immediately leave China because the promised visa has never arrived.  You’ve been had.

A variation on this is to ask you to work part time for the scammer or a competitor of your school.   The only real question is who will find you out first, the PSB, (Public Security Bureau) or your employer, (parents and students tend to see all and tell all). So firing and deportation are on your menu while the scammer dines on your account until the scheme is outed.


The Succubus


This is an attractively packaged bottomless pit of emotional neediness and materialistic demands launched like a wire-guided anti-tank round at the first spotting of a new teacher.  I have known of one who spent countless hours over a three day period  to “accidentally” meet a new teacher on his way to class.

There are countless attractive, intelligent and well intentioned Chinese girls and guys one can meet while teaching in China. However, when they come busting out the gate like a wild bronco, wanting a “serious relationship” before the first date has ended, you should be seeing red flags.

Also, it is easier to get rid of a liver parasite than one of these clingy creatures.  As a teacher once shared, “Never throw your girlfriend’s suitcases down the stairs, because sooner or later, you are going to be carrying them back up.”

And this holds true pretty much everywhere.

Unclassified Parasites


*  Parents who invite you to dinner and when you show up, you find a table full of children waiting for their free English lesson.

* People who walk up to you on the street and ask to be your “friend” and teach them English – for free.

* Television commercial producers who get you to perform in a commercial and then disappear when you are to be paid, (pro-tip: cash up front).

By now, I think you get the point. Go slow. Take your time,  and choose carefully who you call a friend.