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Immigration Bulletin – Department of State Issues Level 2 China Travel Advisory


Per the United States Department of State (DOS) website, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued an official travel advisory for U.S. citizens and dual U.S.-Chinese nationals with plans to travel to China. The January 3, 2019, travel advisory is categorized as a Level 2 warning, prescribing the exercise of increased caution and awareness of heightened risks to safety and security in China.

More specifically, DOS cautions that Chinese authorities have employed “exit bans” to assert broad and arbitrary authority to prohibit U.S. citizens and U.S.-Chinese nationals from leaving China. U.S. citizens have been harassed and threatened and, in some instances, such exit bans have resulted in the inability to leave China for years. According to DOS, China uses exit bans to coercively:

  • Compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations;
  • Lure individuals back to China from abroad; and
  • Aid Chinese authorities in resoling civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.

As noted by DOS, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart China. DOS cautions that U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime, all under the broad authority of Chinese “state security.” In specific areas, such as Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions, there are often additional security measures (e.g., security checks, increased police presence and curfews) of which U.S. citizens and U.S.-Chinese nationals should be made aware.

Because China does not recognize dual citizenship, U.S.-Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment. In such cases, China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services to these individuals.

In the event that you travel to China, DOS has provided the following safety measures and considerations that should be implemented:

  • Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
  • If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the U.S. Embassy on Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for China.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Please contact any member of the Cohen & Grigsby Immigration Department if you have any questions regarding the above at 412.297.4900. To receive future bulletins and news alerts, please send an e-mail to

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