Degrees of Statelessness

Children of Returned Marriage Migrants in Can Tho, Vietnam

  • Susan Kneebone
  • Brandais York
  • Sayomi Ariyawansa
Keywords: Statelessness, Can Tho, Vietnam, Marriage, Ho Khau, Nationality, Citizenship


In this article, we consider the issue of the status of children of international marriage migrants who are returned to Vietnam following a failed marriage in another country. We argue that many of these children can considered to be de facto stateless due to their lack of ‘effective nationality’ in Vietnam. While the children, ethnically, are ‘half Vietnamese’ their legal status is often precarious in Vietnam as many of them hold a foreign nationality. Although their situations vary, we argue that their cases fall on a spectrum of different degrees of statelessness. In many cases their lack of household registration — ho khau — has resulted in ‘ineffective nationality’, which we argue is de facto statelessness. In this article, we present findings from data collection undertaken between 2015–19 in Can Tho, Vietnam and suggest how law and policy could address the issue. We argue that our findings provide a useful case study for considering the importance of effective nationality, which we situate within the broader conceptual debate surrounding de facto statelessness.

How to Cite
Kneebone, S., York, B., & Ariyawansa, S. (2019). Degrees of Statelessness. The Statelessness & Citizenship Review, 1(1), 69–94. Retrieved from