Can a British citizen work for the U.S. government?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:


I was born and educated in London (UK). I have just recently completed my MA (International Politics and Human Rights) and I am exploring career opportunities in the USA. I am interested in organisations like the State Department; The Department Of Defence; CIA etc.

Can one work for the US Government bodies if they are a British Citizen (British Passport)???

If you want to work for the Department of State, you can get a job with the U.S. Embassy in London or any of the U.S. consulates in the UK. They have quite a few jobs filled by British nationals.

If you want to work in the U.S., it doesn’t matter what your passport is. What matters is your immigration status.

If you are a permanent legal resident (a situation colloquially referred to as “having a green card”), you can work for any U.S. government agency or even join the U.S. armed forces; in most cases, it is illegal to discriminate between U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Getting a green card, however, is not easy (you need to have close relatives in the U.S., be married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have an employer who desperately needs you and can show that his attempts to hire from within the U.S. have failed). A few people can get a green card by virtue of being highly regarded professionals in their field, but, just to repeat, those are few.

If you are not a permanent legal resident, it is almost impossible to get a government job in the U.S. It may not even be possible to work a government contract for a private-sector organization; it is in most cases legal to discriminate against temporary foreign workers (often referred to as H-1B workers), and it is not uncommon for a contracting agency to require that any work under the contract be performed in the U.S. by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. About the only exception are scientists and engineers from friendly countries (mostly NATO members and Japan) who work for the U.S. Department of Defense and its contractors on projects that are designated as “Cooperative Research and Development Projects” or “Coproduction Projects”. Those fall under a special visa category (H-1B2).

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