Despite what the DoJ or EEOC might say about employment discrimination (or perhaps because of broad terms in the exceptions), I see various jobs, housing, grants, and other opportunities, advertised with the "US Citizenship Required" qualification, commonly enough that it seems like it must be legal.
On the one hand, there seem to be laws against this in theory. On the other, those laws might not outlaw advertising the job in a particular way that discourages certain applicants, and an employer might be able to find other reasons why not to hire someone who doesn't match the desired citizenship status; it could be hard to prove that national origin was the sole reason and hard to say that any specific person was significantly and provably directly harmed as a result. Politically, I could see how broad exceptions might have been passed that allow people to make things easier on "Americans" than on others.

In practice, is it legal to advertise citizenship requirements for jobs, housing and/or other opportunities? (Please indicate which part you're responding to in your answer.) If not, what actually happens to people/companies who do?

  • What kind of jobs are you talking about?
    – cpast
    Feb 3, 2016 at 2:50
  • @cpast ones that require higher education and other good qualifications. The restriction seems much more understandable for positions requiring security clearances, but not all of them do.
    – WBT
    Feb 3, 2016 at 2:58
  • I meant, what field? If security clearances are an issue for some jobs (for which keep in mind that you cannot obtain a clearance without citizenship, so "citizen" is a bona fide job requirement), is it a field involving lots of government contract work?
    – cpast
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:13
  • The question is intentionally broad, based on broad observations of this requirement in qualifications for jobs (as well as housing and other opportunities).
    – WBT
    Feb 3, 2016 at 14:44
  • Where do you see citizenship requirements in housing?
    – phoog
    Feb 3, 2016 at 19:03

2 Answers 2


The general rule is that all jobs must be open to "U.S. Workers." That is, citizens, permanent residences, asylees, and refugees. (8 USC 1324a). Advertising otherwise, is unlawful.

There are some very limited exceptions to the general rule where U.S. Citizenship may be required, generally related to security. (e.g., requires a security clearance, police officers).

  • What about nonimmigrants who hold valid employment authorization? Canthey be discriminated against because they are not U. S. workers?
    – phoog
    Apr 4, 2016 at 22:23
  • 1
    Yes. An employer is under no obligation to consider those who are not "U.S. Workers." Interestingly, it would be illegal to displace aliens working on the DAPA or DACA program with H-1B workers in certain circumstances. Apr 5, 2016 at 0:50
  • Interesting. Do you have a source to back that up?
    – phoog
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:35
  • 8 usc 1182(n)(4)(E) for H-1B displacement Apr 13, 2016 at 15:12

The answer is right in the EEOC document you linked to:

The law prohibits employers from hiring only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents unless required to do so by law, regulation or government contract.

(emphasis mine)

There are lots of jobs and programs that are restricted by statute. Most federal civil service jobs are limited to US citizens. Federal aid to students is restricted to citizens, permanent residents, and a handful of other immigration categories.

  • "There are lots of jobs and programs that are restricted by statute." More detail on that would be helpful, esp. with respect to businesses that might hope to win government contracts buy hiring Americans exclusively. Also, from a practical perspective, what happens to employers/landlords/etc. that do discriminate on this basis even if they aren't legally required to do so?
    – WBT
    Feb 3, 2016 at 2:51
  • The federal student aid restriction does not justify advertising "US citizenship required" because it is available to permanent residents and certain other immigration categories.
    – phoog
    Feb 3, 2016 at 19:03

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