By now you have probably heard a dozen China job recruiters tell you... "Its no big deal to work with an L visa in China." or maybe "Less than 10 people a year get caught", or "Don't worry we have connections." That is all sales BS designed to calm your fears and get you to sign their contract. In reality China is dead serious about immigration laws - just like the U.S. Australia, Germany, and most any other western country. If you are caught as an illegal alien in America you will be arrested and jailed for months pending a hearing. The same things happens in China friends, and if you look at the below chart and recent news clippings, you will see that do to the discovery of foreign teacher pedophiles and rapists in China last year, enforcement is super strict this year. China Jails 1,200 Foreign Teachers In 2013 For Visa Violations
After you are arrested for working illegally (without a Z visa) you will be detained 10-30 days, depending on how long one of your friends can bring $2,000 cash to pay the fine (they do not take credit cards, checks, or bank transfers). You will then be deported at your own expense after the authorities ask you to makle a written letter of apology. You will be banned from returning to China for 3-5 years and will never be allo0wed to work in China again. But here is the worst part friends... You will be flagged in the computer databases of various immigration enforcment agencies around the world as someone who violated their visa. So perhap in a year when you want to attend your best friend's wedding in Australia or Brazil, you will be shocked when you are refused a visa because of the China incident, even years from now. There is currently no way to get "unflagged" and many people have already learned this painful lesson the hard way.
Do not trust recruiters to tell you the truth. Instead believe what your own embassy and the Chinese government tells you here at http://safea.gov.cn. This article in English will spell it out for you clearly: 2014 Current Foreign Teacher Requirements