Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 1 May 2021
“Should I include my nationality on my CV?”
Whenever we are asked about the issue of nationality, our response is typically along the lines of this: in most circumstance, you should not include your nationality on your CV. It is not a legal requirement nor is it something that the recruiter is terribly interested in.
Employment discrimination laws in the United States (8 USC § 1324b – Unfair immigration-related employment practices) and the United Kingdom’s employment equality laws (primarily derived from the Equality Act 2000) and similar legislation in many other western nations prohibit discrimination based on race, colour, or nationality/citizenship. Including your nationality on your CV may open the doors of discrimination and prejudice against you.
Employers are primarily interested in the eligibility of work (e.g. visa, work permit, etc.) in that particular country and less so in the nationality of the applicant.
If the eligibility of work can be easily derived from the name – e.g. Harry Davies applying for a job in the United Kingdom – then there remains little or no reason for Harry to include on his CV that he’s a British National.
Besides your nationality, also do not include any of the following on your CV:
Believe it or not but there may be a number of benefits of disclosing your nationality on your CV or job application:
These benefits may be quite limited – if any – and do not apply to the majority of jobs.
There are four ways to show that you’re eligible of work when applying for a job:
Only disclose your nationality on your CV as a last resort.
The general rule in regards to Nationality on CV is that it should be omitted. That value space can be dedicated to more important information such as your work experience, education and qualifications.
However, as it is the case with every general rule; there are some exceptions:
1. EU Nationals
EU applicants with “foreign-sounding names” may consider specifying in their CVs that they are a national from a European country (and consequently have the right to employment in the UK). But then again, the world has become a “global village” and recruiters in the UK – and around the world – are used to the fact that eligibility of work cannot be derived simply from the names of the applicants.
2. Non-EU Nationals
It is recommended for non-EU Nationals, often students who are restricted on the number of hours they are allowed to work, clearly state their eligibility for employment in the UK.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs provides detailed information on international students working in the UK.
3. Applying for Jobs in non-Western Countries
The third scenario in which you should mention your nationality on your CV is when you’re applying for a job abroad. Many countries in the Middle-East and Asia presently do not have any anti-discrimination laws. For instance, let us consider Dubai which is a popular destination or foreign workers of many different nationalities.
In Dubai, employers can, based on the nationality of an applicant, decide whether they will be hired or not. Citizenship is also a significant factor in determining their salary: Emiratis and Westerners are paid the highest; followed by the Arabs in general and then by Asians and Africans.
You may also not be surprised to find out that the inclusion of a candidate’s nationalist is a must and its omission can result in the application being unsuccessful.
4. Applying for certain Governmental Jobs
There are some governmental jobs, both civil and security, for which eligibility is partly based upon nationality. These types of jobs typically require “special allegiance to the state” and are strictly reserved for the nationals of that particular country.
The UK’s Civil Service guidelines state:
In this case, applicants should clearly state that they meet this requirement in order to avoid delaying their job application.
In normal circumstances, which applies to the majority of cases, it is advisable to omit your nationality from the CV as there is no legal requirement or any significant benefit for doing so.
There may, however, be exceptional cases in which it becomes recommended or necessary for an applicant to disclose their citizenship on a CV or job application.
Warning: if you do decide to include your nationality on your CV please ensure you do it properly. Nationality is the country of citizenship and is irrelevant of race or ethnic origin (e.g. “British” instead of “English”).