In my US passport, there's a section entitled "Important Information" located just before the visa pages. Item number 13 deals with circumstances in which one might lose their US citizenship (emphasis mine)

Under certain circumstances, you may lose your U.S. citizenship by performing voluntarily, and with the intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship, any of the following acts,

Then, item (4) in the sub enumerated list of things following the comma:

(4) accepting employment with a foreign government

I've never understood this phrasing. Under what circumstances would someone's intention to relinquish their citizenship become clear by where they accepted employment?

If I write time keeping software for a foreign government, I risk losing my citizenship? I can't use my skills as a sign language, English and other language interpreter, as these are mostly provided by the local government where I reside?

The clause is quite frankly scary to me, and I'm hoping to understand what precisely it implies by intention when it comes to employment with a foreign government, which can quite often be availed by non-citizens of that country.

  • Similar discussion in comments under my answer in: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/18394/…
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 12:57
  • That a U.S. citizen gets naturalized in a country that refuses to recognize dual citizenship does not mean that that person ceases to be a U.S. citizen. It only means that that citizenship is not recognized by the other country. The U.S. may still recognize it unless the renunciation of citizenship is done in a way recognized by U.S. law. Commented 2 days ago

5 Answers 5


There are many countries in the world that do not recognize dual nationalities. So for example: Ukraine. In order to obtain Ukrainian citizenship you have to give up any other citizenships you may have held, which means that if you want to work for the government in Ukraine in a position which which requires citizenship the normal procedure is that you have to give up your US and/or any other citizenships

Which in turn would also mean that under the INA 349(a)(4)(A) you have:

(A) accepted, served in, or performed the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state;

with the intent of giving up your US citizenship, since there is no other way you would have been able to obtain such a position.

Reality of stripping someone of their citizenship is much more difficult and convoluted that's why there are not that many to whom this procedure had been applied.

  • 5
    Your reasoning doesn't make sense. If a country requires you to give up other nationalities in order to get theirs, that means they require you to voluntarily renounce your other nationalities, and offer them proof of it, as a prerequisite of naturalization. If you did that, then you would have lost U.S. citizenship under INA 349(a)(5) (renouncing in front of a U.S. consular official). If a country gave you their nationality anyway without you renouncing U.S. citizenship (even if they are supposed to require you to), then no, you would not have lost U.S. citizenship.
    – user102008
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 6:27
  • This is incorrect, there are specific procedures on how the citizenship can be stripped/relinquished. See my answer for links.
    – littleadv
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 5:34
  • How does this answers the question? I fail to see the relationship between the answer and the question.
    – PatomaS
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 8:06
  • @PatomaS If you accept Ukrainian citizenship you have to renounce your US citizenship in order to get it so if you accept a job that requires Ukrainian citizenship you will have to give up your US citizenship, so while you may not be forcibly expatriated the end result is the same.
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 12:27
  • @Karlson: no doubt about that, but your answer, states that first you accept a new nationality that doesn't accept dual nationality and that makes you lose the US citizenship, which is obvious. But the question is a generic situation where you accept a job and the implications of that. Other answers, in my opinion, reflect that situation better. From my perspective, you answered something that is true, but is not the OP's question. Although, since he accepted it, may be he didn't explained his reasons for the doubt.
    – PatomaS
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 23:30

Currently, if you take a non-policy position in a foreign government, you cannot lose your U.S. citizenship without going in front of a U.S. consular official and saying you want to give up U.S. citizenship. If you take a policy position, it's more complicated but the government still needs to prove you intended to lose U.S. citizenship from "preponderance of evidence".

A little background: The "with the intention..." part is in line with the Supreme Court decision in Afroyim v. Rusk, which ruled that the Constitution prevented someone born or naturalized in the U.S. from having their citizenship taken away without their intent. The Supreme Court also ruled in Vance v. Terrazas that this intention must be established by itself by "preponderance of evidence" -- Congress cannot simply say that doing a certain thing implies you intend to lose citizenship.

Current State Department policy further clarifies this. If you take a non-policy position in a foreign government, or do a few other potentially expatriating acts (such as naturalizing in a foreign country), the State Department will automatically presume that you want to keep U.S. citizenship, without you needing to do anything:

The Department has a uniform administrative standard of evidence based on the premise that U.S. nationals intend to retain United States nationality when they obtain naturalization in a foreign state, declare their allegiance to a foreign state, serve in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities with the United States, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government.


In light of the administrative premise discussed above, a person who:

  • is naturalized in a foreign country;
  • takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign state;
  • serves in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities with the United States, or
  • accepts non-policy level employment with a foreign government,

and in so doing wishes to retain U.S. nationality need not submit prior to the commission of a potentially expatriating act a statement or evidence of his or her intent to retain U.S. nationality since such an intent will be presumed.

If asked, you can always say no:

When, as the result of an individual's inquiry or an individual's application for registration or a passport it comes to the attention of a U.S. consular officer that a U.S. national has performed an act made potentially expatriating by INA Sections 349(a)(1), 349(a)(2), 349(a)(3) or 349(a)(4) as described above, the consular officer will simply ask the applicant if he/she intended to relinquish U.S. nationality when performing the act. If the answer is no, the consular officer will certify that it was not the person's intent to relinquish U.S. nationality and, consequently, find that the person has retained U.S. nationality.

However, if you want to take a policy position in a foreign government, and a few other acts (like treason), the presumption is not clear:

The premise that a person intends to retain U.S. nationality is not applicable when the individual:

  • formally renounces U.S. nationality before a consular officer;
  • serves in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities with the United States;
  • takes a policy level position in a foreign state;
  • is convicted of treason.

Cases in categories 2, 3 and 4 will be developed carefully by U.S. consular officers to ascertain the individual's intent toward U.S. nationality.

Of course, in any case with the loss of U.S. citizenship, the standard of "preponderance of evidence" for intention to lose U.S. citizenship from Vance v. Terrazas still applies.


According to PassportsUSA.com:

With respect to loss of nationality, 349(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, is the applicable section of law. Pursuant to 349(a)(4), accepting, serving in, or performing duties of in a foreign government is a potentially expatriating act. In order to come within the Act, the person must either be a national of that country or take an oath of allegiance in connection with the position. Thus, the threshold question is whether the person's actions fall within the scope of this provision. Information used to make this determination may include official confirmation from the foreign government about the person's nationality, and whether an oath of allegiance is required.


In addition, the prefatory language of section 349 requires that expatriating act be performed voluntarily and "with the intention of relinquishing U.S. nationality." Thus, if it is determined that the person's action falls within the purview of 349(a)(4) INA, an adjudication of the person's intent must be made.

The above, among other statements in the same page rules out most of the employment cases in which people are simply working for companies or departments that belong to foreign governments to make a living. Also, the same page gives you the impression that this section generally targets working for foreign militaries or other sensitive departments.

  • 5
    Think of it this way @TimPost, loads of US citizens work in the consulates and embassies of other nations and there is no talk of taking their citizenship away. It's almost unheard of and would be a really extreme case.
    – GdD
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 9:26

Generally, the intent to relinquish the US citizenship is demonstrated via a statement in front of a consular official. This is, in part, the result of the ruling in Vance v. Terrazas. Specifically, if the case come to the attention of the State department - they're to verify with you your intent, and only if you confirm your intent to relinquish the US citizenship, it will be done.

However, taking a government position may require you to relinquish your US citizenship by that government (as some governments require only citizens to serve at certain positions and do not allow dual citizenship).


Seems to me that the regulations you quoted say “if done with the intent” and not “doing demonstrates intent”

But then a reg that threatens you can lose your citizenship by intending to give it up is kind of silly.

  • It's not entirely silly, since it's not necessarily the case in the absence of legislation, that you can lose your citizenship whether you intend to or not. For example if you want to fight for a country at war with the US, and you didn't have the ability to give up US citizenship, then the US could perhaps later prosecute you for treason. The fact that the law allows you to give up citizenship means you're "just" a lawful enemy combatant, you're not committing treason. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 10:30
  • ... furthermore, not every action taken with the intention of giving up US citizenship actually achieves that. For example, if you shred your passport with the intention of giving up US citizenship then you're still a US citizen, your intent failed, because simply shredding a passport doesn't have that effect in law. So the statement is substantial. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 10:34