Nationality = Citizenship?

In legal system of Hong Kong, the terms “nationality” and “citizenship” have almost the same meaning for immigration as well as other legal purposes. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China uses the term “Chinese national”, whereas the Hong Kong’s immigration law uses the term “Chinese citizen” to describe the same group of person – the person who has Chinese nationality is Chinese national (or Chinese citizen).

Am I a Chinese citizen?

Since Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR a.k.a Hong Kong) retained separate legal system from the People’s Republic of China (PRC a.k.a Mainland China) but sovereignty falls into a part of Mainland China, the entitlement of Hong Kong permanent residency in Hong Kong immigration law has certain points of correlations with Nationality Law of PRC. For oversea entrepreneur who is planning their relocation to Hong Kong, having a brief understanding of the definition is essential.

According to the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese Nationality is acquired primarily through ancestry, not place of birth. Persons of Chinese descent, regardless of whether they were born in Mainland China as well as Hong Kong SAR are usually considered to be Chinese citizens.

However, this law denies dual-nationality persons. A person whose parents are both Chinese nationals (or one of them is), this does lead to that this person has Chinese nationality on birth when:

  • their parent(s) has settled outside China (including Hong Kong) and obtained other nationality, AND
  • this person is born outside China and acquired other nationality at birth.

On the contrary, if a person whose parents are (or one of them is) Chinese national and does not obtained other nationality on birth, this person is granted Chinese Nationality on birth.

Chinese nationals in HK

Chinese nationals do not automatically granted the right of Hong Kong permanent residence. There are statutory requirements for Chinese nationals become eligible to Hong Kong permanent residents.

Moreover, only permanent residents of Hong Kong who are also Chinese nationals can hold senior posts in hong Kong government and  entitled to apply for Hong Kong SAR passports and “home return permits” (for travel to Mainland China).

Foreigners (non-Chinese nationals) regardless of if they are Hong Kong permanent residents (i.e. holders of Hong Kong permanent identity card), cannot obtain Hong Kong SAR passport and “home return permits”, they can only obtain a passport from their country of nationality, and apply for a Chinese VISA to travel to the Mainland China.

Hong Kong residents may hold dual-nationality

Although dual nationality (or citizenship) is not recognized by the Nationality Law of the PRC, legal system in Hong Kong is independent from PRC. Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese ancestry may still be considered to be a Chinese citizen after obtaining foreign nationality (or citizenship).

Renouncement of Chinese nationality

According to the Nationality Law of PRC, a Chinese national who settled outside China and acquired foreign citizenship (or nationality) is no longer recognized to be a Chinese nationals, so that his/her children cannot obtain Chinese nationality on their birth. Essentially, ex-Chinese nationals and the children of an ex-Chinese nationals are not entitled to Chinese nationality.

Moreover, Chinese nationals can renounce their Chinese nationality vis application.

Naturalization as Chinese nationals

The foreigners must fulfilled all the situations follow before their submission of application to become Chinese nationals as follows:

  • present of close relative(s) who are Chinese nationals
  • ordinarily residency in China
  • with legitimate reasons for applying Chinese nationality

All applications for naturalization as Chinese nationals are handled by the Immigration Department.

After the successful naturalization, the applicants are entitled to the same rights as natural-born Chinese nationals.

Moving to Hong Kong?

The simplest way to obtain residency of Hong Kong is to begin the establishment of your business here.