I'm a permanent United States citizen (by birth), but I don't have an SSN. I'm also a foreign citizen. My employer outside of the US wants to send me to work into the US for client on-site by asking for a work US visa that would be put into my foreign passport.

Is it legal to obtain and enter the US as a foreigner with such a visa, being at the same time a US resident? Can I enter the US as an American, but work as a foreigner?

I found this reference:

A foreign national or alien entering the U.S. is generally required to present a passport and valid visa issued by a U.S. Consular Official, unless they are a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, or are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or a citizen of Canada.

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    Is your employer aware that you are a US citizen? Do you have a US passport (or anything else proving your US citizenship)? AFAIK you shouldn't even be trying to get a US visa in your foreign passport if you are a US citizen - and you shouldn't need one for any purpose. However you will almost certainly be required to get a SSN before you can start working.
    – brhans
    Jul 5, 2017 at 15:37
  • It does not much matter whether it is legal for you to enter the US without a US passport. If the US consulate suspects that you are a US citizen, you will be unable to obtain a visa and therefore (assuming, based on your profile location, that you are a Russian citizen) unable to fly directly to the US without a US passport.
    – phoog
    Jul 5, 2017 at 16:06
  • @brhans I do have a US passport, but the problem drills down to working in the US, not just traveling. Traveling is not an issue without an SSN.
    – qugu
    Jul 5, 2017 at 16:16
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    @qugu Why is it a problem to work in the US as a US citizen?
    – Midavalo
    Jul 5, 2017 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Dennis (& DJClayworth): concur a US person living and working in another 'normal' country (not a tax haven) and not wealthy usually ends up owing no or little tax but is still required to file a return. What's worse is they are also required to report non-US financial accounts and some other assets (often twice: BSA/FBAR and FATCA/form8938) and the statutory penalties for missing those are harsh even if you owe no tax, although IRS has run several 'voluntary disclosure' programs that reduce this. Some (many?) non-US banks no longer accept accounts for known US persons to avoid FATCA burden. Jul 6, 2017 at 10:32

1 Answer 1


US citizens (dual or not) are required to enter and leave the US using their US documents, in general a US passport. So technically it's illegal, although it's not clear what the likelihood of getting caught and the penalty would be.

In general a US consulate or embassy will NOT issue a US Visa to a US citizen, so you'd have to lie on the application to get one. I wouldn't recommend that.

Your best course of action would be to apply for a US passport.

  • 2
    "although it's not clear what the likelihood of getting caught and the penalty would be." There is currently no penalty for a US citizen entering or leaving the US without a US passport.
    – user102008
    Jul 5, 2017 at 18:45
  • Thanks, Hilmar. Although it may not be true about the issuer of the said passport, I am accepting your answer as the safest course of action to follow.
    – qugu
    Jul 6, 2017 at 19:29
  • Although there is not penalty they could still send one back if you can't prove you are a US citizen, which would be hard to do without your US passport. May 14, 2019 at 2:35

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