How does a stateless person (one who voluntarily renounced their citizenship while in country) provide identification, arrange travel visas, and get back into the US?

  • What do you mean by "stateless person?"
    – feetwet
    Jun 9, 2015 at 1:39
  • 1
    A person who renounces their citizenship is one way to be stateless
    – irth
    Jun 9, 2015 at 4:57
  • 1
    @feetwet en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statelessness
    – o0'.
    Jun 9, 2015 at 9:58
  • 3
    This question sounds suspiciously like a question about the "sovereign citizen" movement whose arguments that they are not subject to taxation, criminal laws, the draft, court jurisdiction, etc. are not valid and do not work. See law.stackexchange.com/questions/422/…
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 5, 2016 at 9:35
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    My suspicion is furthered because irth was previously asking the linked question.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 5, 2016 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


Short answer: You find a country who is willing to recognize you as stateless, and issue you travel papers. At that point you can enter the U.S. by applying for a visa.

The USA really does not want to create stateless people. They are laboring diplomatically to eradicate statelessness. As such, the State Department will want to see that you are secure in another country's citizenship before they will repudiate your US citizenship. Otherwise, they are very reluctant. The State Department will insist you do the repudiation in a foreign country at a US embassy. If you want to become stateless with your feet in the United States, you'll likely have a legal fight on your hands.

Regardless, it will cost you $2300 in filing fees (plus, all your back taxes) :)

At that point, you become the problem of the foreign country. You aren't anyone to the USA, and you have to apply for a visa just like anyone else.

When a stated person enters the US, immigration's pivotal concern is whether you'll leave the US consistent with the terms of your visa, i.e. return to your country of citizenship. Being stateless increases this risk, and being a USA expat increases that risk further, since you are so familiar and comfortable in the US.

If you found yourself in the kind of piccadillo that would qualify a foreigner for refugee or asylum status, the US would consider it just the same as others, since those statuses include right of residency. Some countries manufacture stateless people, e.g. Syria will not grant citizenship to a non-Muslim born there.

  • 1
    "It is legally impossible to renounce your USA citizenship whilst inside the USA." - But see Schnitzler v. United States (2014), Farrell v. Blinken (2021). TL;DR: The quoted statement is the position of the Department of State, but the DC Circuit seems to find it rather unconvincing.
    – Kevin
    Jul 27, 2021 at 17:26
  • @Kevin The first was inconclusive and the second involved someone with another citizenship. The question on the table is about creating a stateless person. No court would ever do that, because they would be contradicting State's policy on ending statelessness worldwide, smuggling in an illegal migrant, and creating a huge and ugly mess that's only going to come back and bite them later. Jul 27, 2021 at 18:29
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    That was not the State Department's official policy position in 2013, at which time they were expressly warning renunciants that they could become stateless. I do not know if their policy position has changed, but you should cite some source to that effect.
    – Kevin
    Jul 27, 2021 at 18:45
  • @Kevin That's nothing more than a disclaimer; they're not saying the US will make you stateless. They are saying they can't prevent your new citizenship country from making you stateless, nor will they protect you if you claim to be an Austrian citizen and it turns out you munged the paperwork and you're not. This is the second time you've made flying leaps upon very weak signals; I don't know what to tell you about that. Jul 27, 2021 at 20:59
  • I am not making leaps of any kind. I am asking you for a citation which you have repeatedly refused to provide. Your answer is a bare assertion based on nothing at all.
    – Kevin
    Jul 27, 2021 at 21:06

It does not appear there are any provisions for stateless people to enter the US or identify themselves therein. The US didn't ratify the UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. If you manage to get into the US you will not be able to open a bank account or do anything else that requires ID.

  • 1
    I don't have any legal references, but I do know from personal experience that stateless people can travel to the US using refugee documents issued by other authorities.
    – phoog
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:02
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    Stateless people can also apply for asylum in the US, despite the fact that the US didn't ratify the convention. The US issues travel documents to these people, even though the documents are not convention documents.
    – phoog
    Nov 4, 2016 at 22:49

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