Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992

Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992

Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to provide for the adjustment of status under the Immigration and Nationality Act of certain nationals of the People's Republic of China unless conditions permit their return in safety to that foreign state.
Acronyms (colloquial) CSPA
Nicknames Chinese Student Protection Act of 1991
Enacted by the 102nd United States Congress
Effective October 9, 1992
Public Law 102-404
Statutes at Large 106 Stat. 1969
Titles amended 8 U.S.C.: Aliens and Nationality
U.S.C. sections amended 8 U.S.C. ch. 12 § 1255
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1216 by Slade Gorton (RWA) on June 4, 1991
  • Committee consideration by Senate Judiciary, House Judiciary
  • Passed the Senate on May 21, 1992 (passed voice vote)
  • Passed the House on August 10, 1992 (agreed voice vote) with amendment
  • Senate agreed to House amendment on September 23, 1992 (agreed voice vote)
  • Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 9, 1992

Prior to the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 (CSPA), President George H.W Bush issued Executive Order 12711 in 1990. This policy implementation was solidified by the actual Act in 1992. The Act’s main sponsors were Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the House of Representatives and Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) for the Senate. The Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 was passed on May 21, 1992 by the Senate, and passed by the House of Representatives on August 10, 1992. President Bush signed it into law on October 9, 1992. The Chinese Student Protection Act became Public Law 102-404, 106 Stat. 1969.

The Chinese Student Protection Act established permanent residence for Chinese nationals that came to the United States from June 5, 1989 to April 11, 1990. The Act was targeted towards students. The CSPA was prompted by the political repression the Chinese faced after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Chinese students who were in the United States during the time of the protests participated in TV interviews, demonstration rallies, and were featured in newspaper articles. Chinese nationals were eligible to apply for permanent residency, even with expired passports. Over the years, the Act granted green cards to an estimated number of 54,000 Chinese nationals.[1]

The green cards were referred to by the Chinese as “blood cards,” “the pejorative term for the green cards awarded to their countrymen who, by virtue of their presence in the U.S. at the time, were eligible for the Chinese Student Protection Act.” (Institute for International Integration Studies)


  • Criticisms and Pitfalls of the Act 1
  • Bills Related to the Act 2
  • Effects on the Chinese in America 3
  • Effects on the United States Labor Market 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Criticisms and Pitfalls of the Act

Although CSPA was enacted to prevent political persecution of Chinese Student, the act also extended its protection to immigrants that came to America illegally, which many Americans disagreed with. Additionally, the permanent resident statute of the Act subtracted spots for Chinese immigrants to come in later years.

The Executive Director of Asia Watch, a large human-rights organization presence in China, spoke out against the CSPA, calling it unnecessary. According to the Executive Director, the only students that may have needed protection from their native country would be those that participated in televised or advertised speeches and those who wrote articles.

A document from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization noted, “According to a cable from the U.S. Consul in Shanghai, China, over 120 returning [students]… who had come to China for various reasons were interviewed [as they prepared to go back to the U.S.]. Not one of them reported a problem.” These students that returned home for a visit during the time that this Act was in effect were still eligible to apply for green cards.

Bills Related to the Act

October 23, 1997 H.R. 2728, a bill to extend the provisions of the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 to certain aliens who entered the United States without inspection. In summary, the bill wished to grant more Chinese students after the original 1992 Act status. This bill also included that the number of Chinese allowed to enter the country not be lowered due to this bill. The bill was to be cited as the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1997, and was brought before the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced through the Judiciary Committee, but no action was taken.

June 4, 2009 S. 1182, a bill to amend the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992, would “eliminate the provision requiring the reduction of annual People’s Republic of China immigrant visas to offset status adjustments under such Act.” (Open Congress) The bill was read twice in the Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee but no other action was made on the bill.

Effects on the Chinese in America

Studies show that the Chinese benefited from the CSPA. “Among those with at least a Bachelor’s degree, workers from mainland China experienced hourly earnings gains of 18 percent during the 1990s relative to the control group. The relative gain was 21 percent among mainland Chinese women and 16 percent among mainland Chinese men. Relative employment rates rose substantially post-CSPA for mainland Chinese male and female college graduates.” (Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin)

Effects on the United States Labor Market

Despite the critiques of the CSPA, students have shown that there was a largely positive impact in the area of America’s labor market. “The CSPA appears to have raised the employment rate by 7 percentage points among college-graduate PRC immigrants relative to those from Hong Kong, controlling for other factors, and to have boosted relative hourly earnings growth by 17 to 24 percent.” (Institute for International Integration Studies)


  1. ^ See Offset in the Per-Country Numerical Level for China-Mainland Born Immigrant Visas in FY 2007 annual report.

External links

  • Public Law 102–404 in Statutes at Large (GPO)
  • Labor Market Effects of the 1992 Chinese Student Protection Act
  • A FAX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES, University of California at Davis