I'm answering the question "Have you ever been a citizen or national of any other country? Country of Citizenship / Nationality"

I used to have an Artist (O-1B) visa for the USA from 2013-2016. Does this mean I used to be a US Citizen?

  • 23
    No. If you have a visa it's because you are NOT a citizen – user40521 Jun 19 '19 at 11:03

No, a visa does not make you a citizen.

(Nor does it make you a national).

  • what's the difference between the two? – user13267 Jun 20 '19 at 0:39
  • 1
    @user13267: Every US citizen is a US national, but people from American Samoa are only nationals, not citizens. For other countries, I have no idea. – Kevin Jun 20 '19 at 1:04
  • @user13267: In most cases there's no difference, but there's a few countries that maintain some legal distinction between their "nationals" and their "citizens". (For example only adults can be "citizens" of Mexico; Mexican children are merely "nationals" until they reach voting age). In such a case the form the OP is filling out wants to know if just one of the terms has applied to him. – hmakholm left over Monica Jun 20 '19 at 10:22

Henning Makholm's answer is correct, that your O-1 does not imply that you were a US citizen or national, but a stronger statement is possible: it does imply that you weren't.

Having a US visa means that you are not a US national or citizen because people with US citizenship or nationality may not receive US visas. See the US Foreign Affairs Manual at 9 FAM 301.3-3:

You may not issue a visa to an individual unless you are satisfied that the applicant is an alien. An alien is defined at INA 101(a)(3) as "any person not a citizen or national of the United States."

(There are of course cases where US citizens have been given visas because the visa officer has been unaware that the applicant was a US citizen. Often, the applicant is also unaware of this. For example, a person born outside the US to a US citizen parent may be unaware of the law governing the transmission of US citizenship in his or her case, and the visa officer may be unaware that the person's parent was a US citizen.)

To reiterate: not only does your O-1 visa not make you a US citizen or national, it implies the contrary.

  • 9
    To be very clear, it only implies that they were not a US national or citizen at the time they were granted the visa. Circumstances may have changed in the interim and it doesn't rule out the possibility that they are or have been a national or citizen of some other country. – J... Jun 19 '19 at 18:54
  • 1
    @J... yes, that's true, and it's why I used the past tense in the first paragraph. It's unlikely in the extreme that the asker of the question has unknowingly acquired US citizenship in the meanwhile, however, which is why I decided not to mention the possibility. It is also very unlikely, though less so, that a situation such as the one described in the parenthetical paragraph exists in this case. As to citizenship of other countries, the question is "Does this mean I used to be a US Citizen?" (The broader question in the title seems to be for context only.) – phoog Jun 19 '19 at 19:26
  • 1
    +1 Excellent. Never occurred to me to think about it that way. Visa= Non-citizen!. – user 56513 Jun 19 '19 at 21:14
  • @phoog I'm sure there must be cases where it isn't clear whether someone is a US citizen or not. If a person is in a position where they would receive a visa without problems if they were not a US citizen, and could obviously visit without visa if they were a US citizen, does that mean they can't enter the USA if citizenship isn't clear? – gnasher729 Jun 19 '19 at 22:16
  • @gnasher729 rtf(a)m! (sorry, couldn't resist.) It's been revised recently, and I do not see something that I remember being there earlier (though I did not look very closely). It used to indicate that they were laxer about issuing nonimmigrant visas to people whose citizenship was unclear (than for immigrant visas, that is), but it seems that this has been changed. If someone has a passport that requires a visa, then, and the visa officer suspects that the person may be a US citizen, then the person paradoxically will be unable to visit the US until the citizenship question is adjudicated. – phoog Jun 20 '19 at 4:05

A visa is like an authorization for a person to enter the country on justified purposes.

If you're a citizen of this country, you're automatically authorized to enter, well, because you just can no matter what.

So only non-citizens need visas.

A visa is like a conditional and temporary ID for the visa holder in that country. A citizen has an unconditional and permanent (more or less) ID.

That's the difference.

  • There's no national identity document for US citizens. – phoog Jun 20 '19 at 4:06
  • And citizenship does not depend on holding any ID (of whichever kind) in the first place. – hmakholm left over Monica Jun 20 '19 at 10:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.