I'm a US expat, living in India.

Does the government shutdown affect my rights to live in the country? How about my rights to travel on a US passport? (In the past, I have been able to enter many countries without a visa due to the US passport)

I don't have any immediate plans of travelling, but I'd rather not get stuck in an airport.

(edit: for reference - Viktor Navorski was the main character in the movie: The Terminal)

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    I'm not quite able to grasp the logic behind your question. If you are travelling to other countries, it's their governments who give you visa-free entry and not the US government. How would the US government shutdown change anything there?
    – drat
    Oct 2, 2013 at 5:37
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    @user34936 Because I'm here on a US passport; if the government shuts down then is it still valid in the eyes of others? To what extent? It probably is; but I'd like to make sure. Oct 2, 2013 at 5:38
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    Well, but it's not like the passport needs a verification from the US government every time you cross a border. And it has a validity date on it, which is probably far in the future, and no Government shutdown will make that invalid. I'm not really an expert on this, but I am pretty sure the answer is: it doesn't affect the validity of your passport in any way as long as you don't want to get a new one. Also if you read articles on what services are affected (like this one they are still issuing passports. That wouldn't make sense if you then cannot use them.
    – drat
    Oct 2, 2013 at 5:43
  • @user34936 That could make an answer :) I'm pretty certain that the ability to travel isn't affected, but again, it doesn't hurt to make sure Oct 2, 2013 at 6:02

2 Answers 2


No. It does not make you stateless.

The United States government still exists and is recognized by foreign governments. The US government has only closed down some non-essential operations. None of that affects its relationship with other countries or US citizens ability to travel with valid US passports (it may make it harder to get/renew a US passport though).


The definition of Statelessness is:

Statelessness is a legal concept describing the lack of any nationality. It denotes the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state.

A de jure stateless person is someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law".

A de facto stateless person is someone who is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, for valid reasons, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country. This can be a result of persecution or a consequence of lack of diplomatic relations between the state of nationality and the state of residence.

Your state (the USA) still exists. You also still have a passport that proves that link. On top of that, your primary place of contact, the US embassy in India, also continues to operate. Therefore there is no risk for you to be stateless.

Victor Navorski is a fictional person. I would rather refer to the person his story was inspired by, Karimi Nasseri. Mr Nasseri lost his link to his home country, since it's passport was lost.

I would be highly surprised if US passports for ca. 6.3 Million Americans living abroad become invalid. The worst case would be of losing a passport when you are required to have one (for example a customs agent checks you) AND the embassies would be closed for a longer period at the same time to confirm your citizenship. However, even in this case, given the international status of the USA, I would assume that the majority of countries world-wide would not go on a hard-line mode and detain all US citizens living in their country immediately, given the amount of people affected. The only countries I could imagine giving you trouble would be North Korea, Iran etc, but those do not have a US Embassy to begin with.

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    Merely losing your passport does not make you stateless, the Mehran Karimi Nasseri is much more complicated than that. Also, even if for some reasons you don't have any means to prove your nationality and the relevant consulates are not operating, then it would be very difficult to deport you because the deportation procedure does in fact often rely on consulates people as their citizens and issue a laissez-passer.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 2, 2013 at 9:46
  • You are absolutely right. I think the whole scenario is quite absurd to ever become reality for the USA. I also never said that losing your passport made you stateless, rather that it's a worst case scenario :)
    – uncovery
    Oct 2, 2013 at 10:57

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