What if a China police certificate is unobtainable?

Document titled China police certificate

A police clearance certificate (PCC) or police certificate from China is officially referred to as Certificate of No Criminal Record. Many foreigners who have lived in China are unable to get a China PCC. By “unobtainable”, I mean two scenarios–(1) you get no certificate at all and (2) you get a certificate that does not cover your entire stay in China.

What I can do with my immigration application if my China police certificate is unobtainable?

Immigration authorities may grant a waiver of your overseas police certificate requirement. To apply for such waiver, an applicant typically needs to provide a written explanation detailing the attempts made to obtain the certificate. Immigration authorities have rules regarding such waiver:

U.S.: If an immigrant proves to the satisfaction of the consular officer that a police certificate is unobtainable, the consular officer may permit the immigrant to submit other satisfactory evidence in lieu of the police certificate. (See INA 222(b))

Canada: If you are unable to get a police certificate from a country, “you must show proof that you requested a police certificate from the correct authorities and write a letter explaining all the efforts you have taken to get one.” (See Canada government’s instructions)

Document your unsuccessful efforts in obtaining a China police certificate

If you were not able to get a China police certificate, make sure that you document your efforts. Below is some possible documentation that you can gather.

Local authorities’ written refusals

Always ask the local issuing authority to provide a statement explaining their refusal. Such a statement is great evidence of your attempts.

China Notary Office's Refusal of Police Certificate Application
China Notary Office’s Refusal of Police Certificate Application

However, most local authorities are unwilling to provide anything in writing upon refusals. There’s no rule in China enforcing them to do so, if your application is not accepted.

Local authorities’ written rules

The second documentary evidence I find most convincing is written rules issued by local authorities. China does not have a central authority that issues police certificates. Instead, local authorities in each city follow their own rules. Some cities don’t have rules at all, while others may have rules unavailable to the public.

Application forms

If an issuing authority refuses to accept your application, try to ask for a blank paper application form. An application can be evidence of your attempts made to apply for a China police certificate.

Some authorities do not have written application forms. Instead, they take applications orally. This is especially true in smaller cities where fewer foreigners have lived in the city. Paper forms are also not available at some notary offices where paper forms have been replaced by electronic forms.

Detailing your efforts

While having no control over whether there’s any written evidence available, you have all the rights in preparing a detailed statement explaining what you have done. Take notes of when you made the application, which officers you spoke to, and what the conversations were. Then, put together the important facts with any available supporting documents into a statement for submission to immigration authorities.

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