Legal Information For Applicants

Please review the below topics for information about Peace Corps' specific legal eligibility requirements and policies. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

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Citizenship

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.

Naturalized citizens

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.

Dual citizenship

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.

Citizenship pending

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.

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Drug and Alcohol Policy

During Application

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, is not eligible to 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 ineligible or unsuitable for Peace Corps service due to drug abuse, problem drinking, and/or the abusive use of alcohol.

An applicant who, at any time on or prior to the day of departure for Peace Corps service, is arrested 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

A Volunteer or Trainee found to be involved with drugs in a manner not authorized for medical purposes, in any way in any country, will be administratively separated immediately. The Peace Corps enforces this strict policy not only because the cultivation, manufacture, and traffic in and use of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal in most countries; but also because drug involvement by Volunteers in any country could seriously jeopardize the entire Peace Corps program, as well as the safety and health of the Volunteers,

Peace Corps leaves decisions regarding the use of alcohol to the discretion of the individual Volunteer. Peace Corps recognizes, however, that excessive use of alcohol may compromise Volunteer safety and security, lead to behavior which is a discredit to the Peace Corps or the individual Volunteer, or affect the Volunteer’s performance and success 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.

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Couples

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.

Married Couples

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. 

Domestic Partnerships

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. 

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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?

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Dependents

Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment that comes with many unique challenges in addition to a multitude of rewards. In general, dependents and other family members may not accompany a Volunteer during service. Peace Corps Volunteers with dependents who will not accompany them overseas can qualify for assignments but they are expected to be able to satisfy their legal obligations to their dependents during service.

Specifically, Peace Corps expects:

  • that the applicant has made satisfactory arrangements with the guardian for the care and support of all dependent children during any period of Peace Corps training and service;
  • that such service will not adversely affect the applicants' relationship with the child in such a way as to disrupt the applicants' service;
  • and that an applicant is not using Peace Corps service as a means of escaping responsibility for the welfare of a minor child.

Applicants with dependent children should discuss in depth with their dependent children and their guardian the possibility of the applicant serving in Peace Corps. Some relevant Peace Corps policies and other questions are listed below to help guide this conversation.

Relevant Peace Corps polices:

  • Dependent children and other family members may not accompany a Peace Corps Volunteer during service.
  • Although Peace Corps Volunteers may host visitors, they may not host visitors during their pre-service training (usually about 3-months), nor during their first three months of service (after pre-service training), nor during their last three months of service. Work schedules and living arrangements can be complex, and Volunteers need to obtain approval from their Peace Corps and their host-country supervisors for vacation days to spend time with visitors.
  • Other questions to consider:
  • Whether you can cope with missing significant family events, such as births, marriages and graduations?
  • Has the dependent child ever been separated from the applicant for a significant period of time?
  • Who will be responsible if a major problem arises (i.e., difficulties in college, financial or emotional problems, etc.)?
  • If the children are young, do they understand why the applicant is planning to leave? Are they supportive of the applicant's decision?
  • If the children will be living with an ex-spouse, is the applicant satisfied with all of the financial and emotional support arrangements?
  • If the child or an immediate family member is ill or if a health condition develops, is the applicant prepared and comfortable with the emergency arrangements?

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Military Obligations

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.

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Intelligence Background

Policy

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’s Office of the General Counsel at 410-854-3910 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].

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Background Investigation

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]

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