When Applying for a Job: What Type of Documents Can Be Used as Proof of Citizenship?

When you apply for a job, one crucial part of the process is for you to prove that you are a U.S. citizen. By doing so, you’ll ensure that you have the legal right to work in the United States. It is incumbent upon your potential new employer to ask about your citizenship status. It is illegal for employers to have non-citizens on the payroll unless they have certain special dispensations, like a work visa. With that in mind, let’s examine what kinds of documents you can take along with you that offer definitive proof you are a citizen.


A passport is one of the better documents that you can bring to establish your citizenship, as any employer will accept it. Because the newer passports come with holograms and other security features that are exceedingly difficult to reproduce convincingly, your potential employer will know that you are providing them with the genuine article.

Driver’s License

Like a passport, a driver’s license issued by any state comes with security features that ensure its authenticity. In many cases, an employer is willing to accept a driver’s license as partial proof of citizenship, though usually, it is not sufficient on its own. At this point the older licenses that did not come with a hologram and could not be scanned have been phased out, so employers are not so leery of fakes being used.

Birth Certificate

A birth certificate is probably on par with a passport in terms of validating citizenship to apply for gainful employment. For those who have lost their original birth certificate and need a replacement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the state they were born can provide it for them. For citizens born outside of the United States, your citizenship status might be a little more challenging to prove to a possible employer. You will likely need to produce a Consular Report of Proof Abroad.

Permanent Resident Card

If you don’t have a driver’s license to go along with your birth certificate or passport, you can use a permanent resident card. There’s also such a thing as an Employment Authorization Document card. Both of these can be attained by going to your U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau and filling out the necessary forms.    

Other Possibilities

Though the cards and documents mentioned above are the most common ways of proving your citizenship, some employers are less stringent about what forms they will accept. They might take such diverse documentation as a college I.D., a voter registration card, a U.S. military card, or a military dependent’s I.D. card. For those under 18, a report card or school record might suffice, or even a hospital record.

The rules for every employer are going to be different, but a driver’s license, birth certificate, and passport are always going to be accepted provided they are genuine and not expired. Speak to the hiring manager or whoever is in charge of decision-making when you go to the interview.