Would obtain the citizenship of a country help to be a more successful applicant for an academic job?

More specifically, for example consider that an international scholar, who currently holds a postdoctoral position, obtains a permanent resident or the citizenship of a country. Would this help to be a more successful applicant for a tenure-track faculty job at universities, such as in US, Europe, China, Japan, Australia, etc? Comparing to those who don’t have the resident permit/citizenship, with a similar background and academic contributions.

  • It depends on the situation. Sometimes it is explicitly stated that citizens or permanent residents are given priority. Sometimes it isn't, but there are many more administrative hurdles to overcome before a foreigner can be hired.
    – Szabolcs
    Apr 13 '17 at 9:18
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    @wonderich: I replaced the tag for you. And you meant "citizenship" rather than "nationality. Also, note that countries are geographical entities and don't have citizenship; states have citizenship. I suggest you edit accordingly (although this is a bit nitpicky I'll admit).
    – einpoklum
    Apr 13 '17 at 12:15
  • It's ridiculous to expect that one answer could cover the almost 200 countries on Earth... For example in France I believe it makes little difference, whereas in Italy only Italian citizens can be hired for faculty positions as far as I understand. Drastically different even though the two countries border each other and are both in the EU.
    – user9646
    Apr 18 '17 at 16:39
  • I am mostly interested in knowing the case of US, and perhaps Europe countries like UK, Germany, Swiss, Russia.
    – wonderich
    Apr 18 '17 at 22:30

In general, employers in the US are allowed to discriminate between applicants who are already eligible to work in the US (by virtue of citizenship, permanent residency or some special immigration status) and applicants who are not currently eligible to work in the US (who would have to be sponsored for an employment based visa.) It is not permissible to discriminate between applicants who are US citizens and those that are simply permanent residents or otherwise have work authorization.

Sponsoring an applicant for an H-1B or other visa can be very time consuming and costly. Furthermore, approval of such a visa application (and even more so for a green-card application) requires the employer to argue that no qualified citizen or permanent resident applicants were available. There are potentially substantial penalties for not following these rules.

If you're already eligible to work in the US, and you are otherwise well qualified for the position, then you probably will be more likely to get an interview than someone equally well qualified who does not have this status.

From my experience of running search committees for a math department, I can tell you that (1) The widely used AMS application form includes a check box for applicants to indicate their status and (2) interviewing qualified applicants who are eligible to work in the US is an important consideration and (3) the vast majority (95+%) of our applicants would require visa sponsorship.


In the US, my guess is no.

1) I'm not sure if this info is part of the application given to the faculty search committee. I am sure that it is not part of the first 3-4 things people look at (research plan, CV, letters, teaching plan)
2) There can be concern and/or bias about international scholars. When I've heard anyone talk about this (and it is rare!) is usually about either language fluency or culture, not immigration or citizenship. So citizenship would not matter at all.
3) I know there is some cost and hassle in getting a new prof a visa. But compared to the cost of someone's salary for the six years pre-tenure, the startup costs (can be >500k at an R1 in the sciences!), etc... this is negligible.

As you look at jobs further away from the traditional tenure track, and as you move to smaller and smaller universities/colleges, I could imagine this being more important. (Though at the subregional university I know best, they've hired international people for the last 5-6 hires, so even there, I suspect it doesn't matter much)

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    I would love the American hiring committees to think that way. Unfortunately, this may be too idealistic. From my personal experience and conversations with colleagues, being a legal resident vs. not being one makes a big difference in U.S. when hiring for tenure-track positions in Economics. Not sure about other fields. Apr 13 '17 at 8:24
  • Many post-doctoral positions in the US are funded by grants from the Federal government that are limited to citizens and permanent residents. I know one colleague from mainland China who reported some barriers to getting post-doctoral positions due to this. I'm not certain how it works for faculty, but many are ultimately funded by similar grants. Things may work differently in other fields, however.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jan 9 '20 at 15:56

As someone looking for tenured work in Japan, my sense is that having Japanese citizenship will have little to no impact on the effectiveness of a job search (or at least no such requirement is listed anywhere for work). This is largely due to very simple visa application procedures for academics (4000 Yen and the right credentials: PhD, publications and job offer can get you a 5-year special status visa).

Being a native speaker of Japanese (it is often explicitly listed that you need to be fluent) and ethnically Japanese however will be greatly helpful (I have no direct data for this but a strong sense that jobs posted in Japanese are posted with the expectation that only Japanese (here lacking all distinction between nationality, citizenship, language, ethnicity, and culture) would apply).

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