Is Part Time Work Illegal?

Now Shenzhen   |   March 29, 2024

CHINA LAW 101: Video 101

This is the 22nd video of the Working In China Chapter.


To watch the video, click the image above.

There's a wide-held belief among us that expats can freely take up part-time jobs, teaching English, or engaging in other side hustles to supplement their income. Therefore, I'm here to offer clarity on this matter, to ensure you do not end up getting fined, detained or even deported from China.

Let's first talk about a regulation that came into effect in December 2021, specifically addressing international students in China. This legislation meticulously outlines the conditions under which international students can work part-time. It allows for work-study programs or off-campus internships, but there's a process to it. Approval from your educational institution is a must, followed by the necessary permissions from local authorities to reflect such activities on your residence permits. And it's crucial that these jobs are relevant to your studies.


The landscape of private tutoring in China has changed significantly, with reforms that have led to a crackdown on private tutoring centers. It's important for you to know that despite this, teaching English privately isn't a viable legal alternative. As tempting as it may seem, it's not within the confines of the law.

Now, let's address the work permit card. It might seem like a golden ticket, but it's more like a ticket for a specific train — it takes you to a very specific destination. You are authorized to work only at the designated address and within the specified role on your permit. Venturing outside these parameters, such as tutoring at a student's home, is not just bending the rules; it's breaking them.


And we certainly can't overlook the tax aspect. Earnings from unauthorized work are typically off the books, which not only poses tax issues but also legal risks. It's essential to remain above board with all your income in China.

Accuracy in your job description on your work permit is not just bureaucratic red tape. It's a legal requirement that maintains the validity of your status as a foreign worker in China. Misrepresentation, even if seemingly harmless, can lead to serious consequences. When you get caught, you will be fined at least a few thousand RMB, and even more than ten thousand. This does not include detention for up to 15 days, and deportation from China. More importantly, if you even get as much as a warning, your administrative record will be scarred, and this effectively hinders you from ever getting a residence permit in China in the future. This means never ever working in China again.