Country Reciprocity Changes - Birth Certificates of China

On April 4, 2016, changes were made to the Country Reciprocity Table for birth certificates of China. Prior to this change, the one and only accepted form of birth certificate from China was the Notarial Certificate of Birth. Applicants bring their Household Register (户口簿) to their Notary Office to obtain the accepted form of Notarial Certificate of Birth. The Notarial Certificate of Birth has always been deemed a secondary evidence of birth, but the U.S. government has always considered it as the most reliable form of birth certificate as many applicants were never issued any form of primary birth certificates and there were no prior standard form of birth certificates.

The current Country Reciprocity Schedule at Travel State include the key points listed below.

  • Original medical certificates (Chu Sheng Yi Xue Zheng Ming 出生医学证明) are available starting from 1996.
  • Due to the lack of a standardized format for birth certificates prior to 1996, original medical certificate of birth (when available) along with a notarial certificate of birth should be requested.
  • Notarial certificates of birth (Chu Sheng Gong Zheng Shu or Chu Sheng Zheng Ming Shu) for persons living in or recently departed from China are generally reliable, but are best used in conjunction with other evidence.

For two of our Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) cases, USCIS issued a Request for Evidence (RFE) on April 5, 2016. The I-130 cases a U.S. citizen filing the petition for her parents. When we filed the petitions last year, we submitted the Notarial Certificate of Birth of the U.S. citizen. The RFE states that we can submit any one of the following documents of the U.S. citizen:

  1. Household Register (户口簿)AND Birth Booklet issued by the province’s health department (省的卫生局);OR
  2. If the child was born after January 1, 1996, birth certificate issued in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health’s national standard format; OR
  3. Notarial Certificate of Birth.

Since we did submit the Notarial Certificate of Birth with the initial application and USCIS this document alone is sufficient, we are unclear why USCIS issued the RFE. We contacted the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China to ask them to confirm whether the Consulate will be requesting additional birth documents besides the Notarial Certificate of Birth. On April 19, 2016, the Consulate confirmed that if the applicant was born in mainland China, then the Consulate will not require any additional birth documents in addition to the Notarial Certificate of Birth. Thus, Notarial Certificates of Birth should be sufficient by itself.