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How can I become a Chinese mainland citizen?

Photo by Kurious

The laws regarding Chinese Nationality say that a person can become a naturalized Chinese citizen if they meet certain requirements. However, these requirements are very strict and, for most people, impossible to meet. Before applying for citizenship, you must obtain a Chinese Green Card, aka a D visa.


Who is eligible to become a Chinese citizen?

A foreigner who is willing to abide by the Constitution of China and its laws can apply for Chinese citizenship if they meet one of the three following requirements:

  1. They are a close relative of one or more Chinese citizens,
  2. They have settled in China,
  3. They have other legitimate reasons.

“Close relatives” means spouses, parents, offspring, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.

“Settling in China” means that the applicant either has a D Visa or “Chinese Green Card”, or meets the requirements necessary to apply for a green card.

“Other legitimate reasons” mainly refers to people who made outstanding contribution to China, or have hi-tech knowledge or special talents that would be worth a great deal to the development of the country.


Ethnicity and citizenship

Ethnic Chinese people (meaning those who have ethnic family links to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong or Taiwan) who have foreign nationality and hold foreign passports can apply for Chinese citizenship if any of their close relatives (as defined above) hold Chinese nationality.

Foreigners of any other ethnicity and nationality can theoretically apply for Chinese citizenship as long as they meet the requirements above. However, it is very difficult for them to get a D Visa, much less citizenship.


A note about dual citizenship

It is worth noting that China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship. If you apply for Chinese citizenship, you must renounce your original citizenship and passport. 

This is one of the reasons why many foreigners don’t apply for Chinese nationality; instead they apply for D Visas, which allow them to have almost the same treatment as a Chinese citizen while retaining their foreign nationality and passport.


Where to apply

You should submit the application for your citizenship at the local Public Security Bureau where you plan to settle. It will take months for the bureau to decide whether to approve your application or not.

You should not give up your original nationality and passport until the Chinese authorities have confirmed whether or not your application has been accepted.


Application fee

There’s a 1,500 yuan application fee and, if it is approved, a 300 yuan card fee.


Required documents

Application for citizenship requires the same documents as the process for applying for a D Visa, including whichever documents are required for your specific case.


Useful Chinese words and phrases 

中国国籍 zhōngguó guójí Chinese nationality
外国国籍 wàiguó guójí Foreign nationality
双重国籍 shuāngchóng guójí Dual nationality/dual citizenship
华裔 huáyì Ethnically Chinese/foreigner with Chinese heritage
近亲属 jìn qīnshǔ Close relatives
定居 dìngjū Settle
绿卡 lǜkǎ Green Card


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One Response to How can I become a Chinese mainland citizen?

  • I am the great granddaughter of Yap Tauco from his son Yap Chan Chui also known as Felipe Fernando. My grandfather has a chinese and a filipina wife. He has 7 children from his filipina wife. When they separated they my grandfather raised their 2 children in China. Their names were Yap Tong Ya and Yap Tong Chiok also known as Enrique and Pedro Timbol Fernando.They never returned in the Philippines. And my grandmother raised their 5 children in the Philippines and my father was among the 5 children raised by my grandmother in the Philippines.My father is Yap Tong Lo also known as Juanito Timbol Fernando. All records of my great grandfather ,grandfather and father was destroyed during World War 1 and 2.And we don’t know the whereabouts of the families of our uncles in China. Is there a way on how we can claim our chinese citizenship?

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