Legal Information For Applicants
- Drug and Alcohol Policy
- Serving Without Your Spouse or Partner
- Military Obligations
- Intelligence Background
- Legal History
- Background Investigation
To be eligible for Peace Corps service, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen prior to receiving an invitation. Citizenship is established either by birth or by naturalization. The State Department will require proof of citizenship before issuing a Peace Corps candidate a U.S. passport.
All applicants that receive an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps must obtain a no-fee U.S. passport. In order for a naturalized citizen to obtain a no-fee U.S. passport, they must either submit their personal U.S. passport or their certificate of naturalization/citizenship to the Peace Corps. If you are a naturalized citizen, please make sure that you have available all of the documents required to obtain the no-fee U.S. passport.
The United States does not recognize dual citizenship. An applicant who indicates they have dual citizenship must submit their U.S. passport when they apply for a no-fee passport. Applicants who are dual citizens are NOT required to renounce their foreign citizenship.
Applicants can submit an application if they are in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship; however, an applicant cannot receive an invitation to Peace Corps service until AFTER they have sworn their “Oath of Allegiance” and become naturalized citizens. Peace Corps will only consider applicants for programs with a “know by” date after their naturalization date.
Drug and Alcohol Policy
An applicant with any drug-related conviction or with a conviction for public intoxication, driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI), with a conviction for reckless driving after having been initially charged with DUI or DWI, or who has a similar alcohol-related conviction, will not have his or her application for Peace Corps service considered until 12 months has passed from the date of the incident. The Peace Corps may deem an applicant unsuitable for Peace Corps service due to drug abuse, problem drinking, and/or alcohol abuse.
An applicant who, at any time on or prior to the day of departure for Peace Corps service, is arrested or cited for any drug offense or for public intoxication, DUI, DWI, or any similar alcohol-related offense will have any pending application or invitation for Peace Corps service withdrawn. If the charges are dismissed, an applicant whose application or invitation for Peace Corps service was terminated may immediately reapply. If the applicant is convicted of the offense, he or she may reapply after 12 months from the date of the incident.
During Peace Corps Service
Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy regarding a Volunteer’s or Trainee’s involvement with drugs. Involvement with drugs includes, but is not limited to, the direct sale, distribution, acquisition, purchase, possession, smuggling, and use of illicit drugs, including marijuana, and any drug not authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes. A Volunteer or Trainee found to be involved with drugs in a manner not authorized for medical purposes, in any way in any country, shall be administratively separated immediately. The Peace Corps enforces this strict policy not only because the cultivation, manufacture, traffick, and use of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal in most countries; but also because drug involvement by Volunteers and Trainees in any country could seriously jeopardize the entire Peace Corps program, as well as the safety and health of the Volunteers and Trainees. Moreover, it is a violation of the trust Peace Corps has placed in Volunteers and Trainees upon their selection and entry into public service. Applicants are required to sign the Peace Corps Drug Free Service Agreement reflecting this policy. Any applicant who fails to sign this agreement will not receive further consideration.
The Peace Corps recognizes that excessive use of alcohol, including binge drinking, may compromise Volunteer and Trainee health, safety and security, lead to behavior which is a discredit to the Peace Corps or the individual Volunteer or Trainee, or affect the Volunteer’s or Trainee’s performance in an assignment. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to: public intoxication, drinking while at the work site, failure to appear for work or training due to intoxication or hangovers, and verbal or physical aggressiveness while under the influence of alcohol. Such inappropriate or unsafe behavior or inability to perform adequately in the assignment may be grounds for disciplinary action, including administrative separation. Volunteers and Trainees who choose to drink are responsible for their conduct at all times; and must always consider host country laws and culture and the effects of their conduct on their service and the in-country program.
Peace Corps' experience is that couples who have been in a committed relationship for at least a year before they begin service are better able to adapt to the challenges of the Peace Corps.
Applicants who are legally married or intend to marry prior to going overseas must both apply and qualify for assignments going to the same country. If invited, a copy of your marriage certificate may be requested, depending on your country of service.
Applicants in a domestic partnership must apply and qualify for assignments going to the same country. Unmarried couples seeking to serve as a couple must attest to their committed domestic partner relationship as part of their applications.
Serving Without Your Spouse or Partner
Peace Corps service is a 27 month commitment that comes with many unique challenges in addition to a multitude of rewards. Past experience has demonstrated that those with strong emotional ties to people back home may not be able to fulfill their commitment to Peace Corps. Experience shows that Peace Corps Volunteers who are serving without their spouse, partner, or significant other are more likely to end their service early. A volunteer’s early departure adversely affects community projects and the community's trust in Peace Corps. Please take this opportunity to reflect upon the below questions to determine your readiness for Peace Corps service.
Peace Corps Volunteers face challenges related to leaving behind a partner beyond just the 27-month separation. Applicants must consider that Peace Corps Volunteers encounter a great deal of stress, transition, and isolation. The stress of an intensive training program coupled with the challenge of adapting to different cultural values may prove particularly difficult without the support of their partner. Peace Corps Volunteers who are serving without their spouse or partner may feel an overwhelming loss of friendship, love, and support at a time when they need it most.
The below questions should be used as a tool to initiate and/or encourage continued dialogue about some of the challenges that volunteers serving without their spouse or partner will confront during service.
- What impact do you expect a 27-month separation will have on your relationship?
- How do you expect to communicate with each other? How often, and by what means? (PDF)
- How do you plan to make important decisions about your future and family while in the Peace Corps?
- What are your expectations of seeing each other during the 27-month Peace Corps tour?
- How will your relationship change when you return from Peace Corps service after 27 months?
The Peace Corps requires that applicants who have legal dependents make satisfactory arrangements for the care and support of those dependents during Peace Corps training and service. Legal dependents are those whom one has a legal duty to support—including individuals under the age of 18, or adults for whom one has guardianship or conservatorship. Applicants with legal dependents are required to submit a notarized letter affirming that the expectations below have been met.
Applicants with dependents face unique challenges in preparing for service. In general, dependents and other family members may not accompany a Volunteer during service. In particular, minor dependents may not accompany Volunteers during service.
In order for an individual with dependents to serve, the Peace Corps has the following expectations:
- That the applicant has made satisfactory arrangements for the care and support of all dependents during any period of Peace Corps training and service;
- That the applicant’s obligations to the dependents do not appear likely to disrupt the applicant’s service; and
- That the applicant’s motivation for Peace Corps service is not in conflict with the applicant’s obligations to all dependents (e.g., seeking to reduce, diminish, or avoid such obligations).
In addition, although Peace Corps Volunteers may host visitors, they may not host visitors during their pre-service training (usually about three months), during their first three months of service (after pre-service training), or during their last three months of service. Work schedules and living arrangements can be complex, and Volunteers need to obtain approval from Peace Corps and their host country supervisors to use vacation days to host or spend time with visitors.
As you are deciding whether Peace Corps service is right for you, consider and discuss answers to the following questions with your family and friends.
- Who will the dependent(s) be living with? What arrangements have you made to financially and emotionally support dependent(s) and ensure their well-being?
- How do you plan to cope with missing significant family events such as birthdays, holidays, and graduations?
- Have you and the dependent(s) ever been separated for a significant period of time? How did you and the dependent(s) manage and cope with this separation?
- What impact do you expect an extended separation will have on your relationship?
- Does/Do your dependent(s) understand why you are planning to leave? Have you discussed your decision to join the Peace Corps with your dependent(s)? If so, what was their reaction or response?
- If your dependent(s) has/have a health emergency or develop a health condition, what arrangements have you made for their support and care? How will you navigate and manage this situation while abroad?
- How do you expect to communicate with each other (e.g., how often and by what means)? What are your expectations for seeing each other during your Peace Corps service?
The Peace Corps welcomes applications from veterans and from active duty military personnel who are interested in Peace Corps service after completion of their military service. However, before accepting an invitation for Peace Corps service, applicants should verify that their service in the Peace Corps will not interfere with any reserve obligations that they may have and that, except in case of war or national emergency, their presence will not be required for active or reserve duty for the duration of their Peace Corps service. Applicants with remaining reserve obligations are urged to obtain written confirmation of this from their commanding officer.
It has been the Peace Corps' longstanding policy to exclude from Peace Corps Volunteer service for specified periods of time any persons who have engaged in intelligence activity or related work or who have been employed by or connected with an intelligence agency. This policy is founded on the premise that it is crucial to the Peace Corps in carrying out its mission that there is a complete and total separation of Peace Corps from the intelligence activities of the United States government, both in reality and appearance. Any semblance of a connection between Peace Corps and the intelligence community would seriously compromise the ability of the Peace Corps to develop and maintain the trust and confidence of the people of the host countries. Serious doubts about an applicant's connection with intelligence activities are to be resolved in favor of exclusion.
“Intelligence activity” includes any activities or specialized training involving or related to the clandestine collection of information, or the analysis or dissemination of such information, intended for the use by the United States government in formulating or implementing political or military policy in regard to other countries. The term “intelligence activity” includes any involvement in covert actions designed to influence events in foreign countries.
Persons currently or formerly employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are permanently ineligible for Peace Corps Volunteer service. Persons currently or formerly employed by other intelligence agencies are ineligible for Peace Corps Volunteer service for at least 10 years from the last date of such employment. In addition, applicants may be disqualified for service because their background or history discloses a substantial connection with an intelligence activity or related work other than through employment. Even family relationships to an employee of an intelligence agency may be considered a disqualifying connection. The duration of any such disqualification will ordinarily not exceed 10 years and will depend upon the nature of an applicant's involvement in or relationship to intelligence activities or agencies.
Peace Corps Volunteer Application Instructions
If you or an immediate family member has been employed by or connected to an intelligence agency, or engaged in intelligence activity or related work, to proceed with the Peace Corps application process please follow the appropriate procedure based on one of three intelligence groups - 1) Central Intelligence Agency 2) National Security Agency or 3) Other Intelligence Agencies.
1. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
If you are currently or formerly employed by the CIA, you are permanently ineligible for Peace Corps Volunteer service.
If you have an immediate family member who works for or has worked for the CIA, the Peace Corps needs information from the CIA for us to determine your eligibility. You must contact your CIA family member in person (not by email, phone, social networking, or any other means that is not in person) and request that the relative contact the CIA Office of General Counsel regarding your eligibility to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The CIA will provide information to the Peace Corps and we will make decision on your eligibility. We will give this information to the CIA, who will tell your relative. Your CIA relative will tell you whether or not you are eligible. Your Peace Corps application cannot be considered until you are informed by your CIA relative that you are eligible. If you are found ineligible, you must not continue your application or you must withdraw it. If you are found eligible, please contact the Placement Eligibility desk at [email protected] and inform them that you checked “yes” to the intelligence association question on the application in error. You must not mention your familial CIA connection to Peace Corps.
2. National Security Agency (NSA)
If you or an immediate family member have been employed by or associated with the NSA, you or your family member must contact the NSA Prepublication Review Office at 443-634-4095 and inform them that you have applied to the Peace Corps to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. NSA will provide us with us with information so we can make a determination of eligibility. The Peace Corps will inform you of your eligibility.
3. Other Intelligence Connections Excluding the CIA and NSA
If you or an immediate family member have been employed by an intelligence agency other than the CIA or NSA, you will be asked to provide more information upon the completion of your Peace Corps application.
If you checked “yes” to the intelligence association question on the application in error, please contact the Placement Eligibility desk at [email protected].
The existence of an arrest or conviction record will not automatically exclude an applicant from consideration for service in the Peace Corps. When evaluating an applicant's arrest or conviction information, Peace Corps considers the nature of the offense(s), how long ago the offense(s) occurred, the nature of the position in question, and other relevant facts or indicia of rehabilitation. If an applicant is ultimately rejected for a Peace Corps Volunteer position because of an arrest or conviction in his or her background, the applicant has the opportunity to appeal the decision and/or reapply at a later date.
The Peace Corps is required to complete a background investigation to ensure that enrollment of the applicant as a Peace Corps Volunteer is consistent with the national interest. Peace Corps will therefore obtain an appropriate background investigation for all candidates who accept an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps. The background investigation will reveal all citations, charges,arrests and convictions regardless of disposition (i.e., suspended sentence, deferred judgment, dismissal, not guilty, reduced charge, mistaken identity, or expungement). Therefore you are required to report your complete criminal record information regardless of whether the record in your case has been sealed, expunged, or otherwise stricken from the court record. Information revealed by the background investigation, including information which the applicant failed to disclose may be grounds for disqualification from Peace Corps service.
If you have any questions regarding any of these legal requirements, please feel free to contact the Legal Eligibility Specialist at [email protected].