Applying to Renounce Chinese Citizenship

中国退籍证书A child may acquire Chinese citizenship automatically upon birth to binational parents (one Chinese and one foreign). Dual nationality is not recognized under the Nationality Law. So a child who acquires Chinese citizenship at birth remains a Chinese citizen,  in the PRC government’s view, even if he or she obtains a foreign passport. Thus, renunciation of PRC citizenship may in some cases be essential for the child to be recognized as a foreign national by the Chinese government for purposes such as attending an international school in China or obtaining a PRC visa. This article discusses the requirements and procedures for renunciation.

Note that a Chinese citizen who has settled abroad and has either naturalized abroad or otherwise acquired foreign nationality of his or her own free will automatically loses Chinese nationality, under article 9 of the Nationality Law, in which case no application for renunciation needs to be filed.

Who Automatically Acquires Chinese Citizenship at Birth?

This table summarizes who is automatically a Chinese citizen at birth according to the Nationality Law:

Place of Child’s Birth

Citizenship of Parents

Citizenship of Child

Source of Law

China

One or both is Chinese

Chinese

Nationality Law, article 4

Both parents are:
(a) stateless or uncertain nationality; and

(b) have settled (定居) in China.

Chinese

Nationality Law, article 6

Neither is Chinese

Foreign

Abroad

(a) One or both parents is Chinese and has settled (定居) abroad; and

(b) the child has acquired foreign citizenship at birth.

Foreign

Nationality Law, article 5

(a) At least one parent is Chinese; and
(b) Either:

(1) no Chinese parent has settled abroad; or

(2) the child has not acquired foreign citizenship at birth.

Chinese

Nationality Law, article 5

 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Renouncing Chinese Citizenship?

See Choosing Between U.S. and Chinese Citizenship: Pros and Cons.

Who Can Apply for Renunciation?

The requirements laid down in Articles 10 and 12 of the Nationality Law for renunciation of Chinese nationality are as follows:

Chinese nationals who meet one of the following conditions may renounce Chinese nationality upon approval of their applications:

  • they are close relatives of foreign nationals;
  • they have settled abroad; or
  • they have other legitimate reasons.

But state functionaries and military personnel on active service shall not renounce Chinese nationality.

Notice that renunciation of PRC citizenship is a “joint enterprise” in the sense that both the individual and the state must consent. See George Ginsburg, The 1980 Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China, 30 Am. J. Comp. L. 459, 489 (1982).

Procedures for Renunciation, in General

Citizenship-related applications should be filed with the city or county’s public security bureau exit-entry administration. (Although not discussed here, an application may also be filed with PRC Embassies and Consulates abroad).

Applications of Chinese citizens under the age of 18 to renounce citizenship may be filed on their behalf by their parents or other legal representatives.

Upon determining that the application is complete, the local exit-entry administration should issue a receipt. Examination and approval is by the Ministry of Public Security. The time period for processing an application is not specified by rules, and it can take up to one year.

If an application for renunciation of Chinese citizenship is approved, Chinese citizenship is lost at once. You will be issued a certificate of renunciation of Chinese nationality. You will need to surrender any valid Chinese passport for cancellation.

Now that you are recognized as a foreign national, you will also need to apply for a visa or residence permit.

Renunciation isn’t necessarily forever. Foreign nationals who once held Chinese nationality may apply for restoration of Chinese nationality if they have legitimate reasons.

Beijing Procedures for Renunciation

What follows is a summary of Beijing procedures for renunciation provided by the local public security bureau’s exit-entry administration to our firm in May 2014, along with our firm’s unofficial English translation:

退出中国国籍申请须知 Notice: Renunciation of Chinese Nationality
 一、申请条件:有外国籍的近亲属(父母、配偶、子女、同胞兄弟姐妹)  1. Requirements:Applicant should have immediate relatives (parents, spouse, children, siblings) with foreign citizenship.
二、需提交的材料:1. 两张填写完格、贴有两寸彩色近期正面免冠照片的《退出中华人民共和国国籍申请书)); 2. Application Documents:(1) Two completed “Application to Renounce PRC Citizenship” forms with recent 2-inch color photos (with no head covering).
2. 自愿退出中国国籍的书面申请(退出原因、未成年人需由父母双方签字); (2) A written statement applying to voluntarily renounce PRC citizenship (stating reasons for abandonment; both parents should sign on behalf of a minor).
3. 自愿加入外国籍的声明(未成年人需由父母双方签字); (3) A declaration that obtaining foreign citizenship is voluntary (both parents should sign on behalf of a minor).
4. 本人简历(包括出生地、是否有国内户口、是否领取中国证件及出入境持用证件情况、外国护照取得时间、地点); (4) Resume (including place of birth; whether the applicant has a domestic household registration booklet; whether the applicant has PRC certificates and exit-entry certificates; and date and place of receiving foreign passport).
5. 北京户口本、身份证原件和复印件; (未上户口的儿童免交〉 (5) Beijing household registration booklet, and original and copy of national ID card (children who have no household registration booklet are exempted).
6. 中国护照(或其它中国出入境证件)复印件: (6) Copy of PRC passport (or other PRC exit-entry certificate).
7. 拟入籍国的定居证明或拟入籍国相关部门出具的同意其入籍的相关材料(外文材料需经指定翻译公司译成中文); (7) Residence certificate from the country of intended naturalization or materials from the appropriate department of the country of intended naturalization agreeing to naturalization there. (Documents in a foreign language must be translated to Chinese by a designated translation company).
8. 己取得拟入籍国护照的,可提交拟入籍国护照复印件及翻译件,免交第 7 条所列材料: (8) An applicant who has already received the passport from the country of intended naturalization may submit a copy of the passport and a translation instead of the documents listed in item 2(7).
9.申请人外籍近亲属(父母、配偶、子女〉的身份证明(外国护照翻译件) ; (9) Foreign passport and translation evidencing the identity of close relatives (parent, spouse, or child) with foreign nationality.
10. 申请人为未成年人,还需提交本人出生证明、父母结婚证明、父母双方身份证明(护照、 户口本和身份证) ; (10) If the applicant is a minor, submit a birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate, and the identity certificates (passport, household register and national ID card) of both parents.
11.公安机关出入境管理部门认为有必要提供的其它证明材料: (11) Other evidence that the Public Security Bureau’s Exit-Entry Administration authority believes is necessary.
12.申请人除申请表上贴的照片外还需再交两张三寸彩色近期正面免冠照片。 (12) In addition to the photos on application form, applicants should submit anther two recent 3-inch color photos (with no head covering.
  • 所提交材料均需 A4 纸张,一式二份
  • 外文材料(包括外国护照)须经公安机关出入境管理部门认可的翻译机构翻译
  • 申请退出中国国籍手续费 50 元,退出中国国籍证书 200 元
  • All documents should be submitted in duplicate on size A4 paper
  • Documents in foreign languages (including foreign passports) should be translated by a translation company designated by Public Security Bureau’s Exit-Entry Administration
  • The application fee to renounce PRC citizenship is 50 RMB. The fee for production of the certificate of renouncing PRC citizenship is 200 RMB.

 

38 Replies to “Applying to Renounce Chinese Citizenship”

  1. Dear Gary,

    Thank you for all of your informative posts. I am living in China with my Chinese wife. I am an American citizen, and we are expecting a child in 3 months. I have contacted the U.S. Embassy, and it is not a problem to get a U.S. passport for our child. It is also my understanding that the child will automatically be a Chinese citizen. And China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. The Embassy advised me to get a U.S. passport and a Chinese visa for the kid, and re enter on the U.S. passport. Can I have both a Chinese and U.S. passport for my child? I am getting really confused with renouncing Chinese citizenship and so forth. And wondering what I need to do. Will the child always be considered a Chinese citizen until it is renounced? Do I need to renounce citizenship? Thanks so much.

    Chris M.

    1. Chris M.,

      For more information on whether your child will acquire U.S. citizenship at birth, see Guide to Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by Birth Abroad.

      If the child is born in China and has one PRC citizen parent, then the child will be considered Chinese under the Nationality Law, as explained in the above article.

      Since China doesn’t recognize dual nationality, before you decide to apply for a U.S. passport or a PRC hukou for the child, decide which citizenship is most important to you. See Choosing Between U.S. and Chinese Citizenship: Pros and Cons.

      You will find people who advocate trying to hide from the PRC government the fact that a child holds a foreign passport. But if the PRC government discovers that the child has a U.S. passport, the PRC goverment will not issue the child a Chinese passport because to do so would be to recognize dual nationality.

      If U.S. citizenship is most important to you but you want the child to live in China, you may find that it’s preferable to renounce PRC citizenship. This is because many parents find it more convenient to have the child travel internationally with a PRC residence permit (居留证)rather than a document issued to PRC citizens not entitled to passport, namely, an Exit and Entry Permit (出入境通行证) issued by the public security bureau’s exit‐entry administration or a Travel Document (旅行证) issued by a PRC embassy or consulate abroad. Further, in some cities, a child who is a PRC citizen will not be admitted to international school.

      Finally, you may find that it’s beneficial to meet with a PRC immigration lawyer to decide on a strategy. If you’re interested, do so before applying for the U.S. passport in order to keep your options open until you make an informed decision about what to do.

  2. Hi,

    My family moved to the States in 1996, including my brother Zhuo who was 16 years old at the time of the move. Since then all my family became US citizen, except for Zhuo. He has a mental illness and is in a mental institution. He wants help to renounce his Chinese citizenship. The purpose is to receive certain government benefits. Can he renounce his Chinese citizenship?

    1. Mei,

      This sounds like a complex situation.

      My first question is, what government benefits Zhuo is seeking, and how would renunciation of his Chinese citizenship influence his eligibility for those benefits? Generally, eligibility for U.S. benefits turns on his U.S. immigration status, not on what his foreign citizenship is, so I don’t understand the purpose of renunciation.

      The second question is whether your brother is eligible for U.S. citizenship. It may be worth consulting with our firm or another competent immigration lawyer. (If your brother is low-income, here’s a list of nonprofit immigration legal services: http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory/).

      Finally, as to renunciation of Chinese citizenship, a threshhold question is whether he has another citizenship. If not, renunciation would leave him stateless. That would make him ineligible for a passport and cause other problems. In order to avoid such problems, China generally refuses to allow renunciation where it would render the individual stateless.

  3. Hi. We are planning to renounce my childrens Chinese citizenship (they are Chinese/British due to parents birthplace). We currently live in China. My eldest child holds a Chinese passport. We have been told that we must apply for his British passport before applying to renounce his citizenship. I’m trying to find out (and failing), how he would travel from China to the UK during the process which could take 6-12 months.
    In the past he has traveled with his Chinese passport which included the Right of Abode to the UK. This passport has just expired and hence the right of abode has also expired. We have just got his new Chinese passport but my understanding is that he can’t have the right of abode to the UK if he holds a British passport. So, as he must leave China on his Chinese passport with a valid visa to the UK, how can he do this with 2 passports as he can’t get a British visa in the Chinese passport as he’s a British citizen. As he already has a Chinese passport it is my understanding that he can’t apply for the Chinese exit/entry permit?
    So again, how would he travel to the UK for a holiday (we will return to China) before the renouncing process is completed?
    I’m confused! Thanks.

    1. The British Consulate will definitely issue a visa in a Chinese passport of a British national. While some countries refuse to issue visas to their own citizens, the UK is not one of them.

      Another option you have is entering a third country (or Hong Kong) on the Chinese passport and then travel onward to the UK on the UK passport. Structuring you travel in this manner may be more expensive then just obtaining a UK visa in the child’s Chinese passport.

  4. I am American and my wife is Chinese and we live in Hubei province. I am in the process of being fired from my job as my wife is pregnant with our second child. My child has both a Chinese passport and an American passport. She has never traveled out of China. My boss said that if I can cancel my child’s hukou (and thereby her Chinese passport), then I can keep my job. After reading your blog and others, it seems that the process to renounce my child’s Chinese citizenship within China would take much too long for my employer’s taste (i.e. my second child would already be born). Do you know if renouncing Chinese citizenship outside of China can be done more quickly than within? Thanks for any advice you can give!

    1. P.T.,

      I’d be interested to know what type of employer you work for–is it government or a state-owned enterprise?

      In any case, there’s a difference between renouncing PRC citizenship and cancelling one’s hukou. Think of it this way: the hukou is a document verifying registration of each family’s permanent residence in China. The government has found it useful to assign each family a residence for purposes of maintaining social order and doling out benefits. The hukou is evidence of citizenship, according to the Household Registration Regulations. And, the hukou is a required document to apply for a passport, according to the Passport Law. But cancellation of the hukou doesn’t amount to renunciation of citizenship.

      It seems to me that under Beijing rules, the hukou of a child with a foreign passport can be cancelled on the spot by the public security bureau at a parnet’s request. That’s a separate process than applying for renunciation of PRC citizenship. And there’s no need to first do the renunciation. I haven’t checked Hubei rules regarding hukou cancellation.

      Of course, before you pull the trigger, first, confirm that cancelling the hukou without renouncing PRC citizenship will mollify your boss, and second, think carefully about the rights and privileges that your child will lose by not having a hukou as evidence of citizenship.

      1. Thanks for your response. I work at a state university. Cancelling hukou would satisfy my boss, but I think she is also conflating citizenship and holding a hukou. So, it is good to know that it could be done relatively quickly. The reason we got my child a hukou in the first place was so that we would have one to cancel if need be. I had read some stories about people being required to get their children a hukou and then cancel it, before the PSB would give the child an “exit visa”. In hindsight it was a bad choice.

  5. My child was born in China in 2010. I am a U.S. citizen and my wife was a Chinese citizen (with a U.S. green card) at the time of the birth. We got a US passport for the child in Beijing and then got an exit permit. We left China as fast as we could in April 2011. Now we want to go back and are being denied a travel visa for our child. They’re asking us to come to the NY consulate in person with the child to apply for a travel document to enter China again. We have 2 children older than her that got their visas no problem in 2006 and 2008. Do you know of a new law or is this just an old law they are deciding to enforce this time?

    1. Jason,

      It sounds like your child was born in China to a PRC citizen mother, in which case your child too is classified by the Chinese government as a PRC citizen under the 1980 Nationality Law, as discussed above.

      The “exit permit” you refer to sounds like a 出境入境通行证 (Exit and Entry Permit), which is issued just to PRC citizens who are ineligible for PRC passsports because of the “nationality conflict” of holding a foreign passport. See Applying for a PRC Exit and Entry Permit for a Child with Dual Nationality.

      Since your child is a PRC citizen, no PRC visa will be placed in the foreign passport. That would be tantamount to recognizing dual nationality, which is not permitted by the Nationality Law.

      So your child may wish to apply for the Travel Permit (旅行证), which–like the “Exit and Entry Permit”–is issued to PRC citizens ineligible for passports. This option is described briefly in the “Applying for a PRC Exit and Entry Permit” article. Or, you may wish to apply to renounce the child’s PRC citizenship. To decide which you prefer, see See Choosing Between U.S. and Chinese Citizenship: Pros and Cons.

      If your older children are also PRC citizens but previously received PRC visas in foreign passports, don’t assume that they will necessarily receive PRC visas again. The nationality issue could still arise.

  6. Gary:

    Very informative. We are encountering the issue where I’m American and my Wife is Chinese. Our son born in China has a US passport and a consular report of birth abroad as well as a Chinese birth certificate. We just started to look at getting PRC visas for a family visit and ran into this issue with our son that was born in China.

    It looks like the most expedient path is to travel to the consulate and apply for the travel document. Does that require the local security office to grant an exit document when they are ready to come home?

    Also, if he enters China in that fashion will the US consulate treat him as a US citizen and will he be granted the help a US citizen would get if needed.

    In the long run it appears that renouncing his citizenship is the best course of action. How long would that take?

    Thanks
    Steve

    1. Steve,

      An application for a Travel Permit (旅行证 lvxingzheng) is made at a PRC consulate. The document is valid for multiple entries to–and exits from–China over a 2-year period. The Travel Permit may be issued to a PRC citizen ineligible for a PRC passport due to a so-called nationality conflict. More at http://lawandborder.com/applying-exit-entry-permit-child/.

      The U.S. Embassy or Consulate in China will treat the child as a U.S. citizen. However, the Chinese government will treat the child as a PRC citizen, which means that if the child is detained the child may not be given access to U.S. consular officials.

      Applying for renunciation of PRC citizenship takes at least several months.

  7. Hello,
    I am British born and my husband is Chinese born. We had our baby son born in England. He has a British passport.

    I recently tried to apply for a Chinese visa for him to go and visit his Chinese family, I was told than my son is recognised as Chinese.
    They said I need to get him a Chinese Travel document in order to travel.

    But how do I get him out of China when the British government will not issue a British visa for somebody who already has a British passport. Also, I cannot get him an exit visa on his British passport as he is recognised as being Chinese.

    Is there any way my husband can renounce our son’s Chinese nationality without myself or my son being in England. I am not willing to take my son in to China on the Chinese travel documents.

    1. Chelsea:

      You first ask about the Travel Permit (旅行证). If abroad, the child may apply for a Travel Permit (旅行证 lvxingzheng) at a PRC consulate, valid for multiple entries to and exits from China over a 2-year period. Like the Exit and Entry Permit, the Travel Permit may be issued to a PRC citizen ineligible for a PRC passport due to a so-called nationality conflict.

      Your child would be able to exit China with the Travel Permit and then enter the UK with his British passport.

      If you are interested in applying for renounce PRC citizenship, the application can be made in China with the city or county’s public security bureau exit-entry administration. An application may also be filed with a PRC Embassy or Consulate abroad.

  8. I am British, and my wife is Chinese. Daughter due end of the year. Plan on leaving China in 5 years or so and for education in private schools until we leave. The hospital in Shanghai and the Yuezi resort my wife is booked in seem familiar with mixed race marriages/ births in China and suggest to us
    1. Get the child’s name on the birth certificate in English only- possible in Shanghai.
    2. Do NOT put the child on the hukou
    3. Apply for British passport by mail for our daughter and get her visa to reside in China…
    Does this sound right?

    1. Your daughter will be a PRC citizen since she will be born in China to a PRC citizen parent. That’s per article 4 of the 1980 Nationality Act, as explained above.

      As a PRC citizen, your daughter will not be eligible for a PRC visa. Article 3 of the Nationality Law states, “The People’s Republic of China does not recognize dual nationality for any Chinese national.” In other words, once it is determined that a person is a PRC national, the second nationality will not be recognized.

      You can weigh the options of renouncing your daughter’s PRC citizenship or retaining it.

  9. Dear Gary,

    Is my son really Chinese?

    I am Italian citizen. I married my Chinese wife in Wenzhou (Zhejiang) in 2007. Then our son was born in February 2008 in China. We applied for his Italian passport, and we got it in few months. After that, our son exited first time with a temporary entry exit permit. We went to Italy and applied for a visa at the Chinese Consulate in Milan. After that, he got residence permits from the PSB for three years (2008, 2009 and 2010) as the son of a foreign parent employed in China.

    In 2011 we went back to Italy, and relocated there for four years. My wife got Italian citizenship in 2014. And we came in early June 2015 to China for holiday successfully applying for visas to visit my wife’s daughter.

    And finally, in August we came to China because I found a new job in Shanghai, got visa a Z for myself and S1 for all my relatives, including my son.

    Then, yesterday, while applying for the residence permit in Shanghai, it was a nighmare! The officer requested the document stating my son renunciation of Chinese citizenship. I still don’t understand how is possible he got visas and 3 residence permits in the past but now is being denied.

    1. Your son is a PRC citizen since he was born in China to a PRC citizen parent. That’s per article 4 of the 1980 Nationality Act, as explained above.

      It’s not uncommon for children in this situation to be issued PRC visas. But it is incorrect because the Nationality Law’s article 3 states, “Article 3 The People’s Republic of China does not recognize dual nationality for any Chinese national.” In other words, once it is determined that a person is a PRC national, the second nationality will not be recognized.

      As a PRC citizen, your son doesn’t need a foreigner’s residence permit in China. You can weigh the options of renouncing PRC citizenship or retaining it.

      1. Hey all,

        Everything in the renunciation process has been a nightmare!

        My son was born 10 months ago. We started the process of renouncing citizenship before he was even born. Our planwas that 28 days after being born he was going to visit the states. But it took us 6 months of fighting just to be able to submit paperwork to renounce Chinese citizenship.

        We first asked the visa office in Suzhou (where I work). They said that I needed to submit for renunciation. The officer showed us the form but refused to give us a copy. I’m glad to have found it on this website. (Thanks Gary!) My wife’s home town said renunciation was impossible. The regional government told us we needed to have already been living overseas for two years. The national law says that as long as ‘a close reletive’ is of a different nationality you can renounce citizenship. So we went to the next step, being the provincial capital (Nanjing). They were unwilling to meet us at first. Then I told them I was going to wait in the lobby until I was granted a meeting with an official. I was told that the official was on ‘a trip’ I said no problem I will wait, and was going to start calling newspapers in the afternoon. Finally, they said that someone would come down after lunch. An official did come down, and she called the regional office telling the regional office to let us submit paperwork. We showed up the next day and had to submit all paperwork in triplicate.

        We are unsure if paperwork was sent to Nanjing or put in the trash, but we handed in the papers. Then after 3 months in processing we were asked for two more photos (unsure why as we had to have photos on the original submission). We have no idea when we may see the renunciation come through. I have been told it may take up to 3 years…. Don’t know if we will still be in China that long, and am put off having our second child in China due to all of the stuff we have had to deal with.

  10. Hi,

    I have a question regarding the renouncing Chinese citizenship. I was born in China. I am married to US citizen. We lived in the USA for the last 10 years. Last year I received US citizenship through naturalization. And I am holding US passport, while my old Chinese passport is not expired. Now we are living and working in Indonesia on an international assignment. I have to travel to China for a business trip. To get a Chinese visa, do I need to renounce my Chinese citizenship?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Ray,

      Under the Nationality Law,

      Article 9 Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has been naturalized as a foreign national or has acquired foreign nationality of his own free will shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.

      第九条 定居外国的中国公民,自愿加入或取得外国国籍的,即自动丧失中国国籍。

      Sounds like you were settled abroad, applied for, and were granted U.S. naturalization. If so, upon naturalization, you automatically lost Chinese nationality. And in that case, you don’t need to renounce your Chinese nationality. You will, however, need to present your last PRC passport in addition to your U.S. passport at the time you apply for a PRC visa.

  11. Hi Gary-

    We have been settled in the US for over 2 years. I am a Chinese citizen and U.S. green card holder, and my husband is American. My son was born in China but has a US passport. Recently I needed to take my son to China. I was told by the Chinese consulate that my son needs a travel document and needs to go to China to renounce his Chinese nationality. I had my friend go to the Shanghai public security bureau exit-entry administration to ask about the renunciation procedure. They said if the child has been settled overseas for 2 years, he automatically gives up Chinese nationality. What do I do?

    1. Hi An:

      First, as you know, a child born in China to a PRC parent is a PRC citizen, under Nationality Law art. 4.

      Second, contrary to what the Shanghai PSB may have told you, under the Nationality Law, moving overseas for 2 years doesn’t cause a PRC citizen to lose his or her citizenship.

      Finally, a PRC citizen who wishes to apply to renounce that citizenship may apply either at a PRC consular post abroad or at the PSB exit-entry administration with jurisdiction over his or her residence, according to Nationality Law, art. 15. In your case, you may have been misinformed by the consulate and the PSB.

  12. I am Canadian, my wife is Chinese, and our son was born in 2008 in China. In 2014 I was in China and told by the visa issuing officer that my son would not be able to leave china with me because he was Chinese, and China wouldn’t recognize his Canadian passport. I took my son to a different government office and got him a 30-day travel permit. My wife, son and I then came to Canada where we have now been living for 2 years. What will happen to my son if we visit China? We are afraid to take him to China to visit my wife’s family because we are afraid they won’t let him leave again. What should we do?

    1. Ryan,

      As explained above, a child acquires PRC nationality automatically at birth if born in China to a Chinese mother. Under China’s Nationality Law, article 4, the PRC government doesn’t recognize the dual nationality of Chinese citizens. If a PRC citizen holding a second country’s passport would like to travel to China, he will typically not be issued a PRC passport but can be issued a Travel Permit (旅行证 lvxingzheng). The application for a Travel Permit can be made at a PRC consulate. The Travel Permit is typically valid for multiple entries to China over a 2-year period. In the alternative, as explained above, the child can apply to renounce PRC citizenship, and then apply for a PRC visa.

  13. Hi Gary,

    I am French, my wife is Chinese, and our daughter was born in September 2015 in New York. We all live in the US. I have a US green card and will be applying to US citizenship this summer. My wife receives her green card at the end of 2015, after having a work permit (EAD Card) for more than a year. Our daughter has a US passport. We plan to go in China in April to visit family and were told today by the Chinese Consulate that our daughter cannot get a visa and needs to apply to a travel document. While applying to the travel document, we realized that the Chinese Consulate refuse to recognize her US passport, which is extremely confusing and frustrating. They also asked us to correct her birth certificate because my second middle name that is on my passport is not indicated on her birth certificate. Very painful (actually, this second middle name is not on my green card either or on our marriage certificate). Obviously, the Chinese consulate has decided to make it complicated for us. I understand from your site that according to Chinese authority, our daughter falls in this category of Chinese citizen that cannot get a Chinese passport either because of dual passport issue. Quite frankly, we don’t really want her to have a Chinese citizenship since she’s born in the US and we intend to stay in the US. What should we do? Should we apply to this Travel Document anyway for this trip and then go for the Chinese citizenship renunciation process afterwards? We don’t intend to live in China for now, just travel there occasionally. Can you also confirm that the status of “settling abroad” for the Chinese parent only means “Green card obtained before birth of the child”? Technically, my wife was no longer under a US visa, while our daughter was born. She was already under an EAD, and waiting for her green card. Doesn’t it qualify as “settling abroad”? Thanks in advance.

    1. Seb: “Settled” is best interpreted as having the right to reside in a country indefinitely, such as with permanent resident status. So an EAD alone wouldn’t qualify a person as “settled” in the U.S. And yes, you may want to have your daughter travel on a Travel Permit now and renounce her PRC citizenship later if your goal in the future is for her to China on a U.S. passport with a PRC visa.

  14. Thank you, Gary for this informative website. My daughter is preparing to leave for a college study abroad internship in China in about 4 weeks. After reading these articles, I am concerned about her ability to travel. The Chinese visa applications are being submitted now by the professor who is leading the trip to China. My daughter was born in China, but was abandoned and placed for adoption. I am a US citizen and her only adoptive parent. I adopted her in 1997 (she was age 18 months) and brought her to the US, where we have lived continuously since then. She had a Chinese passport when I adopted her. She received her US Certificate of Citizenship in 2000 (age 4). She has held a US passport since 2006. In 2007, we traveled back to China for 15 days for a tour. For that trip, she had a Chinese visa on her US passport, processed through the Chinese Consulate office in Texas. That passport expired in 2012. She applied for and received a new US passport in 2015. As part of the Visa application, she is required to provide this prior Chinese visa. Do the Nationality Laws apply to her? If so, will the Chinese consulate here refuse to issue a visa for her travel to China? Thank you.

    1. Debi,

      Thank you for your question. To recap the background facts, as I understand them, and the related law:

      • Your adopted daughter was born in China to a Chinese national parent. Therefore, she was a PRC citizen at birth.
      • You are a U.S. citizen. You adopted your daughter in China. She entered the U.S. with an immigrant visa.
      • Your daughter was issued a Certificate of Citizenship by USCIS, evidencing the fact that she became a U.S. citizen automatically when she met the following requirements: (1) she had at least one U.S. citizen parent; (2) she was under 18 years of age; and (3) she was residing permanently in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

      So the PRC law question is whether your daughter ever lost her PRC citizenship without going through the renunciation procedure. Article 9 of the Nationality Law reads as follows:

      第九条 定居外国的中国公民,自愿加入或取得外国国籍的,即自动丧失中国国籍

      Article 9 Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who, of his own free will, has either been naturalized or otherwise acquired foreign nationality shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.

      In your daughter’s situation, since she AUTOMATICALLY became a U.S. citizen–and especially because she was so young–she can’t be said to have become a U.S. citizen of her own “free will.” Therefore, it seems to me that she remains a PRC citizen. It appears that the PRC Consulate in Houston made a mistake in issuing her a PRC visa previously because the Chinese government doesn’t recognize dual nationality and therefore shouldn’t have given her any benefit based on the foreign passport.

      It seems to me that if she wants to travel to China she has the option either (a) to obtain a lvxingzheng (travel permit for PRC citizens ineligible for passports) or (b) to renounce PRC citizenship and then apply for a PRC visa.

      A word of caution. I don’t know the complete facts of your daughter’s situation. The complete facts could alter the analysis. Also, the PRC government may not share my interpretation of the Nationality Law. Therefore, please don’t take this analysis as legal advice. Instead, take this analysis as a word of caution that you should speak with a competent PRC immigration lawyer–from our firm or otherwise–who can learn and analyze the complete facts of your case and then research how the PRC government analyzes the application of the law to those facts.

  15. Hi Gary, I was born in China to two Chinese citizens. Since then, my family immigrated to the US through claims of asylum. My parents became US citizens when I was 16 and I derived US citizenship from them.

    In 2008, my N-600 application was approved by USCIS and I went to the local office to swear-in as an US citizen and received my Certificate of Citizenship.

    Now, 17 years after I had left China, I want to visit China and am applying for a tourist (L) visa. But I am now worried if I am even eligible to apply for a L visa or if I am still considered a Chinese citizen by the PRC.

    Thank you,
    Rudy

    1. Rudy,

      Your case seems analogous to Debi’s above, in that you may not have become a U.S. citizen of your “own free will,” with the result that you may not have lost your Chinese nationality under Article 9 of the PRC Nationality Law:

      第九条 定居外国的中国公民,自愿加入或取得外国国籍的,即自动丧失中国国籍

      Article 9. Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who, of his own free will, has either been naturalized or otherwise acquired foreign nationality shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.

      It sounds like you may have become a U.S. citizen under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states:

      Sec. 320. [8 U.S.C. 1431] (a) A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

      (1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.

      (2) The child is under the age of eighteen years.

      (3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.

      If your Certificate of Citizenship shows that it was issued under section 320, then you “automatically” became a U.S. citizen, without applying or taking any other step of your “own free will,” in which case you also remain a PRC citizen under article 9 of the PRC Nationality Law. (If your certificate was issued under section 320, then your memory may be off because no oath of citizenship is required.)

      Assuming you became a U.S. citizen under section 320, then you can apply for a Travel Document (旅行证) to travel to China. As a PRC citizen entering China on a PRC travel document, you will not be guaranteed access to U.S. consular officers. If that’s important to you, then you have the option to first renounce PRC citizenship then apply for a tourist visa.

  16. Dear Gary,

    My infant son was born in China. His mother is Chinese. I am American. I’ve already obtained the U.S. passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for him.

    I went to the local PSB and they said they shouldn’t have a problem issuing the exit permit.

    When I inquired about renouncing my son’s Chinese citizenship, they told me: “you cannot, because he needs to make that decision himself. And he is not old enough to speak or tell us that is what he wants to do, so you cannot do that.”

    What do you suggest for dealing with this official, who misunderstands the Nationality Law?

    1. Jack,

      Yes, the official was mistaken. The Nationality Law, article 14, states that for nationality renunciation applications: “Applications of persons under the age of 18 may be filed on their behalf by their parents or other legal representatives.” In smaller cities and rural areas, much of the job of the immigration lawyer in renunciation cases is educating local officials about the law and, where necessary, escalating issues to higher officials who can properly instruct lower officials.

    2. Dear Jack,

      We ran into something similar. The smaller local towns didn’t know the law. We showed them, and they would not accept it. We then went to the regional office, and got a different story why we could not renounce. We finally had to go to the provincial offices and we finally were able to talk to someone and then were able to get them to call the regional office and they directed the regional office to allow for our application. It has been 16 months since we were able to submit paper work and still nothing yet…

      As a result of all of this mess we are choosing not to have our second child born in China.

      Regards,
      Phillip Sexton

  17. Dear Gary,

    I am Canadian, my wife is Chinese with a Beijing hukou, and our daughter was born in 2012 in Beijing. She has never left China, but we would like to visit Canada soon. My daughter holds a Canadian passport. We tried to get her a hukou last year, but it was denied because her name is written in French (not Chinese) in her birth certificate. If she cannot not get a hukou, is she really considered Chinese?

    Thanks for your help,

    Pierre

    1. Pierre: Yes, your daughter is a Chinese citizen if she was born in China to a Chinese mother. See “Who Automatically Acquires Chinese Citizenship at Birth?” above. By denying the hukou, the government has denied her a certain type of evidence of her Chinese citizenship but has not denied that she is a citizen.

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