If you are a former Chinese citizen wishing to go to China for business, family visits or any other reason be warned that you will need extra documents when applying for a Chinese visa. If you do not have the proper documentation, your visa will be rejected and you will risk delaying your trip. These extra requirements have frustrated clients of mine before who think that because they have lived in the United States for X many years or immigrated when they were only X years old they shouldn’t need to dredge up old documents. It may help to understand the logic to the additional requirements. The main gist of these special requirements is that the consulate wants to A) verify who you are and if you left China in good standing and B) confirm that you are no longer a Chinese citizen.
If you have acquired a Chinese visa before, then the process for you is fairly straightforward. You will only need to include your Chinese name in Chinese characters on the application (there is a special field for this information), specify what city you were born in, and prove that you have held a Chinese visa before. Your previous Chinese visa in your passport will suffice as evidence that you are no longer a Chinese citizen. If you’ve had a visa in a previous (i.e., expired) passport, you’ll still need to submit a copy of that visa.
On the other hand, if you’ve never held a Chinese visa after you were naturalized, you will need quite a few documents to supplement your visa application. You will need to submit a copy of your naturalization certificate and your ORIGINAL expired or cancelled Chinese passport. This requirement stands regardless of how long ago you were naturalized or how old you were when you immigrated from China. If you were a child when you immigrated, your name and photo will probably be in your parents’ expired passport. You can submit a copy of this page of their passport. Finally, if your name has changed since moving to the United States, or if your “American” name is different from your “Chinese” name, you will need to submit a copy of the court order that changed your name.
In the case that you cannot find some of these documents, you can try to write a detailed letter to the consulate explaining when you immigrated, how you arrived in the US etc. This is only a worst case scenario however as it often causes delays, and the embassy may ultimately reject your application based on lack of evidence. It is of course helpful to use an experienced visa agent to guide you through the process. The good news is that if you have the proper documents, your visa can still be processed as fast as all other American applicants (same day, next day or five business days depending on your urgency).