I understand that this is a very broad question, but I'm asking it mainly out of curiosity.

Suppose that one works for the CIA, or the NSA, or some other American intelligence agency; I expect that getting a tourist visa for, say, Russia, would be more difficult than usual, obviously, and that the same would hold in the opposite direction as well.

However, there are obviously lots of people employed by such groups (like IT staff) that are not directly employed in espionage pro forma. How much more difficult does international travel become in such cases?

  • 2
    A member of the intelligence community should have the skills to sneak in into any country without revealing his background :) – JonathanReez Apr 24 '17 at 22:02
  • So are you basically asking if someone who was backroom IT staff (not an agent) for an intelligence agency would find it more difficult to get a tourist visa to visit rival countries? – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 24 '17 at 22:58
  • You will never know. If you get a visa refusal, no one will ever tell you why. My father lead the civilian agency/laboratory responsible for every civilian chemical factory not to blow up. He knows, without a doubt, most about explosives in Hungary. Is the intense scrutiny I get every time I am about to board a plane to or from Israel (I was strip searched. Twice.) due to they just being what they are or is it the (unique) family name? No one will ever tell you. – chx Apr 24 '17 at 23:05
  • 1
    @JonathanReez not to mention the cover story and the, uh, documents to back it up. – phoog Apr 25 '17 at 2:20
  • Agencies may limit their (ex) employees from travelling to unfriendly countries. You never know what intel the other side has. – ugoren Apr 25 '17 at 18:36

Actually, not that many countries require a visa for US citizens and even among the most restrictive/unfriendly countries, only a handful would have the resources to track and identify random low-level intelligence staff so I would not expect a huge impact.

On the other hand, some countries (and especially the US) place restrictions on foreign travel by clearance holders. So if you want to keep your job and your career, you need to follow specific procedures and cannot go abroad just like that.

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