Marriage in China is based on China's laws regardless of nationality of the individuals marrying. Getting married in China requires at least one of the applicants is either a citizen or has a long term resident permit. China requires applicants for marriage to meet minimum age requirements of 22 for men and 20 for women. Additionally, if a Chinese applicant is a student he/she must get approval from the school they attend and may be required to reimburse the school fees and tuition if marrying a foreigner before approval is granted. Diplomats, security officials and others whose work is considered crucial to the State are not legally free to marry foreigners.
Both applicants for marriage, regardless of status must obtain a "Certificate of Marriageability". The fee for this certificate is $50.00. Chinese applicants must apply for the certificate from the Marriageability Registration Office of the Civil Affairs Bureau in their jurisdiction. American applicants can obtain the certificate from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When applying for a certificate of marriageability both applicants must present certified copies of termination of prior marriages, annulments or death certificate in addition to 3 photos of the both applicants together, valid passport with Chinese Visa (non-residents) or household registration book and Chinese ID (residents). Chinese residents are also required to provide a health certificate. All documents must be translated into Chinese and certified. Translation can take up to 30 days, paying double the standard amount will expedite the translation to up to 10 days. It is recommended you take an additional copy of these documents to submit with your application and retain the certified copy for later use in applying for a visa.
Once both partners receive the Certificate of Eligibility you are free to marry, however, weddings must be officiated according to Chinese laws. American Diplomatic and Consulate officers are not authorized to perform marriages in China. Marriages considered legal according to Chinese laws are legal in the U.S. Same sex marriages are not allowed in China based on the "Marriage Law of People's Republic of China" which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. As of this date efforts to overturn this law have been unsuccessful. After your marriage is registered you may file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of your spouse. U.S. citizens who reside in China can file petitions at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office (USCIS) (86-10) 8531-3111 (telephone), (86-10) 8531-3100 (fax) or email email@example.com. If you do not have a long-term Chinese residence permit you must file a petition at your local USCIS office when you return to the United States.
All information provided retrieved from the below sites and is current as of October 4, 2013: