Pro Forma Visas for U.S.-China Dual National Children

It’s tricky for a U.S.-China dual national child to depart China. The child must present to the immigration inspector in the China airport both (a) a travel document issued by the Chinese government and (b) a document authorizing their entry to the U.S.

The most obvious strategy won’t work. The child cannot present their China and U.S. passports. The reason is that the officer won’t recognize the child as a U.S. citizen. Under Article 3 of China’s Nationality Law of 1980, the Chinese government “does not recognize dual nationality for any Chinese national.”

So, here are the other options:

  • PRC Exit and Entry Permit: The first option is to apply for a PRC Exit and Entry Permit to leave and (optionally) return to China within 60 days. Show the inspector that permit and the child’s U.S. passport. The permit is issued based on the rationale that there is a “nationality conflict” preventing issuance of a PRC passport to a person who holds a foreign passport.
  • Transit Via a Third Country: The second option is to depart China with a PRC passport to a third country or region for which the child has a visa or where no visa is required. From there, the child can enter the U.S. with the U.S. passport.
  • Pro Forma Visa: A third option, which is the topic of this article, is to apply for a U.S. “pro forma” visa to be stamped into your PRC passport. The PRC passport is a valid travel document, and the U.S. visa is sufficient evidence to satisfy the immigration inspector in the Chinese airport that the child is authorized to enter the U.S. Upon arriving in the U.S., however, the child must present his U.S. passport to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Under normal circumstances, a U.S. visa cannot be issued to U.S. citizens. However, there are some cases in which a “pro-forma visa” can be issued to U.S.-China dual national children for the purpose of enabling them to leave China on their foreign passport. (Generally speaking, adult dual national U.S. citizens will not be considered for a pro-forma visa.)

Back in 2018, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China were issuing pro forma visas valid to a child only one time, valid for only three months and a single-entry. Now, however, pro forma visas are being issued valid for multiple entries over a period of 10 years. This makes pro forma visas a more attractive option.

To apply for a pro-forma visa, please visit and follow the procedures for a normal non-immigrant visa application. Also, please bring both the applicant’s Chinese passport and US passport to the interview. If the applicant is under 14, he/she does NOT need to attend the interview. Note that applying through the drop box (interview waiver mail application) is NOT possible.

Please note that if you are applying for a dual national U.S. citizen minor who is under the age of 14, and you are not applying for your own visa at the same time, you must notify Consulate staff through  at least two business days in advance of the child’s interview. The notification should include the non-applying parent’s name, passport number and date of birth, along with the name, passport number and date of birth of the visa applicant, as well as their visa appointment time.

–Source: U.S. Consulate in Shenyang (Jan. 2018 Newsletter)

Feel free to schedule a consultation with our firm to discuss immigration and nationality law issues for your dual nationality child.

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