China Elevator Stories

“Do You Get Chinese Citizenship By Marrying A Chinese National?”

The right to Chinese citizenship is not obtained by marrying a Chinese national.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


When my Chinese husband and I got married after having been together for less than half a year, many of our friends thought it must have been 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. We married out of love. Time didn’t really matter.

By marrying a Chinese national, you do not automatically obtain Chinese citizenship. For one, China doesn’t allow dual citizenship. For another, marrying and citizenship are not connected. Chinese citizenship can be applied for after having lived in China for more than ten years. But it’s not easy to obtain 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 Chinese citizenship or a non-Chinese national who has obtained Chinese citizenship in the first place. I also don’t even know of anyone who has been able to obtain a permanent residence card for China (a Chinese “green card”). This card can theoretically be applied for if you have been living in China over a period of five years, but only if you fulfill certain other requirements.

Being married to a Chinese national means that you are allowed to apply for a residence permit valid for one year (in places other than your spouse’s hometown) or two years (these are only issued in the place your spouse has registered his hukou at, and not every place issues them for a period of two years, my husband’s hometown would issue it for a period of one year only).

You are not permitted to work on a spousal residence permit in China. For that, you’d have to obtain a work residence permit via your Chinese employer.