AMXF survey and “Do you get Chinese citizenship by marrying a Chinese national?”

Linda from Living in China has asked me about reasons why many AMXF (Asian Male, X Female) couples marry so soon into their relationships. I can’t answer for others, so Linda has created a survey to ask other couples about their experiences. Anyone in a relationship with an Asian man can take part and it’s not just about marrying, so don’t worry if you aren’t married. We’d be happy if you could help us out, it’s a very short survey that can be done in two minutes’ time. Click here to go to the survey.

When my husband and I got married after being together for less than half a year, many of our friends thought it was because of visa issues or because I was pregnant (I wasn’t). But being married doesn’t make visa issues go away, so for us, this wasn’t the reason. Instead, we married out of love. Time didn’t really matter. You can also read this past article here about our very informal engagement.

Btw., I’ve been asked this various times by friends: By marrying a Chinese national you do not automatically become a Chinese citizen. For one, China doesn’t allow dual citizenship. For another, marrying and citizenship are not connected. A Chinese citizenship can be applied for after having lived in China for more than ten years. But it’s not easy to get and you’d have to give up Austrian citizenship. I have yet to meet a foreigner who has given up his/her native citizenship for the Chinese one (and who has attained Chinese citizenship in the first place). I don’t even know of anyone who has gotten a permanent residence permit (this one can theoretically be applied for if you have been living in China for the last five years, and not on and off).

Being married to a Chinese national means that you are allowed to apply for a residence permit valid for one year (or for two if we applied for it in his hometown; a residence permit is quite similar to a visa) or for a spousal visa. But, in contrast to Austria, you are not allowed to work with this kind of residence permit/visa (correct me if I’m wrong, I still have to get acquainted with issues facing Chinese nationals in Austria).

20 thoughts on “AMXF survey and “Do you get Chinese citizenship by marrying a Chinese national?”

  1. I am really annoyed by the visa situation for foreigners in China. In Germany if you are married you can apply for a “family reunion visa” which allows your spouse to stay in Germany for a year AND work. And it is easy to renew it every year. In China on the other hand, it first of all depends where your spouse has her/his hukou (household register). Apparently in some areas it is very easy to get one year family visa, in others not so much. When I stayed in Baoding, Hebei province I just got three months -.- Later we went to his hometown and without any questions they gave me six month (not like Baoding, where the women treated me like a convict, accusing me of getting married to get a Chinese visa -.- yeah, duh, because it’s sooooo great to have a Chinese visa or even Chinese citizenship..). Anyhow, as you sad, I know people who easily get one year family visa or even two. But since the new regulations things are harder. And actually, the new rule is, if you want a twelve months family visa you have to do that Health examination (including X-Ray!). And you have to do it every time you extent your visa. But, of course, China is so big, and in so many areas people just make their own regulations (even the visa centers).


    • I think there’s a difference between a visa and a residence permit. I know that you need the health examination to get a 1 year residence permit, but I thought it was the same before (for every residence permit that exceeds half a year). I had to do it when I was studying for a year in Kunming (to get a student’s residence permit). Is the health examination new for family reunion residence permits of 1 year too or was it in place before they changed the regulations?


      • Yes it actually has always been there. No matter what visa you apply for, if it exceeds six months you need a health check… I don’t remember them distinguish between visa or residence permit though. The only change concerning a family visa is that you just get six months now. But well the whole visa business is so hazy and confusing, some of the officials don’t know themselves. The best bet is always to go to a small city haha the closer you get to Beijing, the harder and stricter the visa regulations get.


        • I see. Maybe it really does depend on the place you live at. In my husband’s hometown they told us it will be easier to apply for it in Shenzhen (that was before they introduced the new regulations though). In Shenzhen they told us that in his hometown we would be able to apply for a 2-year residence permit, while in Shenzhen we can only apply for a 1-year residence permit (after the change). His hukou is registered in his hometown, but that’s about 3000 km from here.


  2. Very interesting, I’m also in the same boat with the visas and residence permits. I’m in Finland now and applied for a visa to go back to China and get married there. My passport with the new visa is waiting at the post office, so I’m not sure yet what kind of visa and for how long they gave me.

    After we get legally married (Valentine’s Day) I’m planning to apply for temporary residence permit I guess. I always thought it’s for one year, but two years would be even better. We live in Guangzhou where my fiance’s hukou is, so hope that makes things easier.

    I would love to have that permanent residence permit (green card) after being married for 5 years, but it seems to be very hard to get. Less than 5000 foreigners have it in China.


    • Keep us updated about what kind of visa and residence permit you got!

      I’ve heard that a permanent residence permit is even hard to get for the children of a Chinese/Non-Chinese couple. I thought it would be easier for them to attain it.


    • The Chinese “green card” is indeed rather hard to get. I know only one person who got it and that went through 5 years of marriage + high investment into some companies. The problem he faces is that most Chinese officals do not know about the green card nor how it looks like so he was put even into prison twice because they thought he had some fake residence permit..


      • I also know another person with the “green card” and he said the same. He faces troubles all the time because officials don’t even know such a document exist or is legal.

        Same with other many things. I recently had plenty of problems in ICBC Shanghai. I have two passports because when my old one was expiring I got the new one (one expired one new), I went to let them know about my new passport number and take some money out.
        Well so I was in the bank 3 long hours because according to them there was no link at all between my passports. (Even though I was there in person, I had my work permit with me, both passports, Spanish ID, and told them that I put some money in after our wedding…whatever they just said that there is no link between me and the passports or between the passports).
        Five different employees screaming and freezing my bank account.
        The problem was that for them the only thing that counts is the passport number, and at least for our Consulate when you change passport you change number. Not in China.

        So when employees, officials,..don’t know about your identity cards, visas, passports…because they just assume things work like that face issues.


        • In China it can indeed get very complicated because many Chinese don’t think outside the box. They are great in doing things which need much repitition but most are not problem solvers due to their culture and education. This leads always to problems as soon as they encounter something new or totaly unknown. I guess it will take still a long time until this will change (I doubt it will happen in the next 15-20years due to the culture and education system)


  3. After we got married many people thought I was “becoming Chinese” but not the case – I have a two year residence permit but that is connected to my job, not my husband.


  4. Same here. Nothing to do with visa. My visa depends on my employer and is valid for 1 year then needs to be renewed together with the contract.
    And yes now you also need a health examination for your other visas, is something new since the last update (September 2013?).
    Also the timeline is pretty new, since not even the officials understand it yet. Years ago it took me 3 weeks to get my work permit and resident permit. This year it took 3 months ahd a half to get them.

    For T to move to Spain it wouldn’t be easy either. Family reunion is not easy if your spouse is not a EU citizen. I know many couples that have been waiting for over 30 months, and during that time the Spanish citizen must be living and working in Spain, while the non European spouse should not be in Spain…quite complex.

    I do hope they make a change for spouses of chinese citizens, at least the option of not going to HK to get the work permit..just change your visa in Shanghai /Shenzhen..wherever you reside. That would be a small step!.


    • 30 months is definitely a long time! Unfortunately many countries in the EU have introduced stricter guidelines in all the wrong places (if you’re already married – what do they want you to achieve by letting your spouse wait that long for a residence permit?).


      • That’s my question. That’s not helping at all. They want to reduce the amount of inmigrants without papers..ok..But not that way. All the measurements they are taking are classifying Spanish citizens living abroad as second class citizens. Out of healthcare, out of our parents healthcare systems even if they paid for more than 34 years without even using it…
        They should make it easier for the spouses not more difficult with all those rules.
        Bringing a spouse from Germany would be thousand times easier than if he or she is from Senegal, China,…


  5. My friend was born and raised in China, but her parents are from England, and she did not even get a Chinese passport.. It is almost impossible, but then again, I don’t think many people would give up their Nationality to become Chinese. Nothing wrong with being Chinese, I love China and the people, but we all know we would face a lot more problems, such as visa problems when traveling to other countries with a Chinese passport rather than a western passport. Great post 🙂


  6. The rules change all the time, but I seem to remember that when my late husband and I got married, he was eligible for American citizenship after 6 years of being married to a US citizen. He didn’t have to wait that long though. His citizenship was based on having studied and worked in the United States for 10 years. I don’t know how it works now.


    • Spouses of US citizens are able to apply for citizenship after holding a residence permit (green card) for three years and living lawfully in the US for at least three consecutive years. Prior citizenship can be maintained.


      • “Prior citizenship can be maintained” – if you hold Chinese citizenship, you’d have to give it up in order to obtain that of the US. Only if both countries allow dual citizenship is it legal to maintain both citizenships. I have heard that some people choose not to give up one for the other (without letting the other country know), but this is not legal.


  7. Pingback: Top 10 posts on China Elevator Stories, post 101-150 | China elevator stories

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