This article explains how parents can apply for an Exit and Entry Permit (出入境通行证 churujing tongxingzheng) on behalf of a dual nationality child. Our law firm can assist with the application and advise about other available options.
Certain children may automatically acquire Chinese citizenship at birth (in China or abroad) if one or both parents are Chinese. See Who Automatically Acquires Chinese Citizenship at Birth?
At the same time, the child may automatically acquire or qualify to apply for foreign citizenship. For example, a child born in the U.S. is normally a citizen. And a child born outside the U.S. to one citizen parent and one noncitizen parent automatically acquires citizenship at birth if the parents are married and the citizen parent was previously physically present in the U.S. for periods totaling not less than 5 years, at least 2 of which were after age 14. INA § 301(g). See Guide to Aquisition of U.S. Citizenship by Birth Abroad.
However, under China’s Nationality Law, article 4, the PRC government doesn’t recognize the dual nationality of Chinese citizens. As a result, where the child is a PRC citizen but holds a foreign passport, the Chinese government may not be willing to issue a PRC passport to the child or place a Chinese visa in the child’s foreign passport on the ground that such benefits would amount to a nationality conflict (国籍冲突). In other words, granting such benefits would be tantamount to recognizing dual nationality.
Exit and Entry Permit
The public security bureau (PSB) exit and entry administration may, however, be willing to issue the child an Exit and Entry Permit, which is valid for one departure and one readmission to China within 3 months of issuance. PSB processing time is typically about 5 work days. The application fee is 20 RMB.
I’ve heard parents inaccurately refer to the Exit and Entry Permit as an “exit visa” for their baby. But remember that this is not a visa granted to a foreign national. Instead, it’s a travel document (not unlike a passport) granted to a PRC citizen whom the Chinese government has deemed unqualified for a passport. The inside cover states, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China requests all civil and military authorities of foreign countries to allow the bearer of this permit to pass freely and afford assistance in case of need.” Still, as a practical matter, the only authorities who will need to review this document are the Ministry of Public Security’s border control troops at the airport, sea port, or land border when the child seeks to exit and reenter China.
Here’s what the Ministry of Public Security’s Working Rules for Managing Issuance of Exit and Entry Permits (2007), art. 16, say:
Note that in some cities (but not others) the exit-entry administration may require, as a condition of issuance of the Exit and Entry Permit, that the child’s household registration be cancelled by the police station (派出所 paichusuo) where registered. The National Immigration Administration has stated that this is not a national policy. Hukou cancellation does not amount to renunciation of PRC citizenship. The child remains a PRC citizen but no longer will have access to benefits that depend on a hukou (e.g., treatment as a local for purposes of attending public schools and medical insurance).
Also note that since the above Working Rules require the application to be filed with the child’s place of residence (居住地), the PSB may require evidence of that residence, such as the PRC citizen parent’s local hukou (户口) or residence permit (居住证). See State Council, Interim Regulation on Residence Permits (居住证暂行条例), Order No. 663 of the State Council, issued Nov. 26, 2015, effective Jan. 1, 2016 (“A citizen who leaves his or her place of permanent residence, resides in another city for more than half a year, and satisfies one of the conditions of having a legal and stable job, having a legal and stable residence, continuously attending school may …. apply for a residence permit.”).
The PSB exit and entry administration’s procedures for issuance of an Exit and Entry Permit differ slightly depending on the locality:
- Beijing procedures. (It’s easiest to read this on a mobile phone screen).
- Shanghai requires that first time applicants have their nationality confirmed (国籍审定) when they apply for the permit.
- Shenyang’s procedures, as of Aug. 2014, are:
|This notice is only supplied for applicants’ reference and must not be photocopied.
|The documents needed will depend on the applicant’s actual situation.
|Guide to Applying for an Exit and Entry Permit
|1. Fill in one copy of the Exit and Entry Permit Application Form (available at the information counter)
|2. Two recent 2-inch color photographs with bar code (taken at the first floor photography studio)
|3. Copy of most recent Exit and Entry Permit or Travel Permit (not required for first-time applicants)
|4. Child’s foreign passport ID page (original and copy)
|5. Birth certificate (original and copy) (including a Chinese translation by a translation agency, if in a foreign language)
|6. Foreign parent’s valid passport (original and copy of the ID page and visa page)
|7. Chinese parent’s national ID card and household registration booklet (original and copy) (Shenyang household registration booklet only)
|8. Each time the child must come in person to be photographed on the spot. The guardian must either come in person or be represented by an agent with a national ID and power of attorney
|9. Other documents the public security agency believes are necessary
Book the child’s flight with the foreign passport, then upon checking in to the flight departing China, show that passport. When passing through border control, show the exit and entry permit as evidence the child has a right to leave, and show the foreign passport (with a visa if needed) as evidence the child has a right to enter the country of destination. When reentering China, show border control the exit and entry permit as evidence the child is a PRC citizen with a right to enter China.
Other Options to Consider
Depart and Reenter China with a PRC Passport: If the child is a PRC citizen, you should be able to obtain a PRC household registration booklet (户口 hukou) and PRC passport, prior to obtaining a foreign passport. To exit China, a PRC citizen is required to show the PRC passport (or other PRC travel document). See Exit-Entry Administration Law (EEAL), art. 11. The PRC passport would need to have a visa valid for the destination country unless no visa is required. EEAL, art. 9.
The problem that arises is that some countries, such as the United Kongdom and United States, will not issue visas to their own citizens:
- United Kingdom: According to the UK government, a person “may not obtain a visa for the UK in a Chinese passport if you also hold a British passport.” So if the child already holds a British passport, you may need to either relinquish it to apply for a UK visa in the child’s PRC passport or travel to the UK through a third country.
- United States: The U.S. will not normally issue visas to its own citizens (9 FAM 40.2 N1) and requires citizens to enter with a U.S. passport (7 FAM 085), with limited exceptions. One limited exception is that the U.S may issue a “pro forma” visa in the PRC passport where the U.S. consulate believes it is required to facilitate a citizen’s departure from China.
So, in those cases, a dual national child may need to travel to the United Kingdom or United States via a third country or region.
One option may be travel through Hong Kong or Macao. The PRC citizen child may be able to obtain a Hong Kong and Macao travel permit (往来港澳通行证). The child could leave the Mainland with that permit, then leave Hong Kong or Macao with the foreign passport. This would appear to comply with Chinese law because the Exit and Entry Administration Law does not apply in Hong Kong (HK Basic Law, Annex III) and Hong Kong doesn’t have a parallel requirement that PRC citizens exit with a PRC passport.
Similarly, upon returning to China, a PRC citizen is required to present the PRC passport (or other PRC travel document). EEAL, art. 11.
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 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.
Renounce PRC Citizenship: The child may apply to renounce the PRC citizenship and then obtain a PRC visa in the foreign passport.
Questions or comments?