I am curious if anyone has found a solution to staying in the E.U. as a stateless person, with rights to reside and work? A U.S. citizen is allowed to formally renounce their U.S. citizenship at any U.S. embassy, WITHOUT first having another citizenship, thereby becoming stateless. Would such a person then be permitted to remain in the E.U., obtain housing and employment? Or would they be placed into detention indefinitely? (They couldn't be deported back to the U.S., no longer being a U.S. citizen.)

  • 2
    Stateless people can have residence permits in EU countries, just as anyone who is not an EU citizen can. They don't automatically qualify, though; you'd need some legal basis for your application. These vary from country to country. Common paths: An employer willing to sponsor you, a spouse, or, for some countries, having a lot of money either in the bank or available to invest in domestic real estate or a domestic company. You might also be able to apply for asylum or refugee status somewhere. You'd probably be more likely to succeed with that as a stateless person than as a US citizen.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 3:08
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    You actually could be deported back to the US. Before renouncing you need to agree to terms including that renunciation does not prevent the possibility of you being deported to the US. Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 2:05

3 Answers 3


If the country is a member of the 1954 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons they have to follow the rules of that convention. Read it, and you will know what is required by their laws.

BUT, not all member countries have created a formal stateless recognition process so you could end up in a bit of limbo. You can contact the UNHCR office that covers the country you are planning to live in beforehand. And be sure you know the details of their process before you take the step of renouncing. Also read Stateless Determination Procedures and on the UNHCR site you can view by country their statistics and notes from the UNHCR about that country.

Another good site is statelessness.eu which posts updates about countries in the EU. They published another status document in 2013 that is worth reading. And you can find information about someone else who did the same thing in Europe in 2008, Mike Gogulski and maybe talk to him an others in a Facebook group of people who are in the same category, Stateless Club.

Be sure you do specific research on an individual country, because you need to be sure they have no detainment & no deportation policies for stateless and do not have any exclusions about people who are intentionally stateless.

Known successes so far for intentional statelessness (renouncing from the USA) have been in Slovakia, Paraguay, and Uruguay (that is where I became stateless). And research into Spain and Hungary both looked like possible places, although Hungary doesn't have the best handling of stateless they do have an official procedure.

It is not for everyone, but someone who can do the work to figure out the details, build relationships, lobby for help, and is brave... you can work through it.

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    Lastly watch your timing, during the "Syrian refugee crisis" you want to be sure you pick a channel that isn't dealing with that important issue, and you also don't want to be put into a misunderstood category. Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 13:42

There are a few possibilities:

  • You might still be deported to the US. It's more complicated and would require the consent of the US but I remember that the website of the State department suggested it does still happen even after you renounce your citizenship. Not sure about the details.

  • You might get a residence permit just like any other non-national, according to the usual rules (for work, studies, family, investor, etc.) or simply because you prove you are stateless.

    If you need to travel, you can also get a 1954 Convention document or some other alien's travel document. Since you don't have a passport anymore, your country of residence provides you with a passport-like document, even if you are not a citizen.

  • You might be able to become a citizen. Again, you need to qualify for that in one of the usual ways but there are also some special paths to citizenship (e.g. with reduced residence conditions) for stateless people.

  • Not all countries practice indefinite detention. For example, if you are detained in France and the authorities cannot find any way to deport you within 40 days (e.g. no safe country would take you), you have to be released. Typically, you would then get a visa for 8 days with the obligation to leave the country yourself but in practice you can obviously remain illegally after that.

None of this is directly regulated by the EU, each EU country has its own rules.


Remember, any advice given is very YMMV but this is my understanding as it stands:

  • The UK will give you stateless person status if you willfully renounce your citizenship, provided you meet all other requirements (per a publication on gov.uk dated 18 February 2016).
  • France may give you stateless person status, as it is not prohibited in their law concerning stateless person status. L'Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (the French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons) is the agency which is responsible for all claims of refugee status and subsidiary protection (which includes stateless persons). The procedure is defined in article 812-1 from CESEDA (Code de l'entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d'asile, or the Code of the entry and the residency of foreigners and right of asylum).
  • Slovakia has given a willfully stateless American stateless person's status (as in the case of Mike Gogulski), including a residency permit and a travel document.
  • Finland MAY refuse you stateless person status if you willfully renounced your citizenship. I remember reading this on the website of their migration service, Maahanmuuttovirasto, but I cannot find it again. If Finland is your intended destination, you really should read up on this.

There's also one other thing you should know about: the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin Regulation is a piece of legislation that applies to applicants for asylum and applies in the EU, as well as Switzerland. Basically, it requires you to apply for asylum in the first EU member state (or Switzerland) you enter. Which is why there are a lot of refugees in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and Spain.

While the UK does not believe that the Dublin regulation applies to people who are stateless (as long as they have not applied for asylum), the actual text of the Dublin regulation may get you in trouble.

Again, your mileage may vary. Do your homework, get an attorney, do your homework, prepare to learn another language, do your homework and remember, above all else, to DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

  • Could you link to your sources (especially "a publication on gov.uk dated 18 February 2016")? It would improve this answer immensely. Also, out of curiosity, for someone who becomes stateless after entering the EU, while in a country other than the country of entry, does the Dublin regulation still require the country of entry to process the applicant, or would it be the country where the applicant was on becoming stateless? Or is the regulation silent on that question?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 16:13
  • The actual text of the Dublin regulation doesn't do what you seem to think it does. In particular, there is absolutely no requirement whatsoever for refugees to apply for asylum in a specific country.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 0:36
  • As much as I'd love to link to my sources (and I did try prior to submitting this answer), for some reason I'm barred from doing so on Stack Exchange, which is why I tried to give as much information as I could (in regards to the date). Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:28
  • @VéroniqueBellamy For new users (1 rep) there is a limit on the number of links posted (to prevent spam), but you should be able to edit in sources now.
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:38

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