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UNHCR welcomes progress toward U.S. commitments on statelessness

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UNHCR welcomes progress toward U.S. commitments on statelessness

1 August 2023


This statement is attributable to Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR Representative to the United States and the Northern Caribbean 

WASHINGTON – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes important progress toward fulfilling U.S. government commitments made on statelessness in the United States, part of a wider set of U.S. pledges to end statelessness globally and support the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. The U.S. government’s adoption of a working definition of statelessness and active steps to better identify and protect stateless individuals already residing in the country are critical to addressing the legal limbo and hardships faced by those who are not recognized as a national by any country in the world. 

The United States’ new guidance clarifies who is considered stateless and creates a mechanism for providing internal guidance to decision-makers on specific cases involving a person who may be stateless, paving the way for such an individual to more easily access legal solutions within the U.S. immigration system. UNHCR also commends the commitment to strengthening awareness and training for government staff who may come into contact with persons who may be stateless. These advances provide renewed hope for those who, deprived of the basic right to nationality, must live in constant uncertainty. 

Stateless individuals in the United States face a range of hardships resulting from their lack of citizenship, including detention, perpetual reporting requirements, difficulty accessing housing and employment, family separation, and lack of access to identity documentation or bank accounts. Experts estimate there are roughly 218,000 people currently residing across all 50 U.S. states who are potentially stateless or potentially at risk of statelessness. 

To learn more about statelessness and UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness worldwide, visit the campaign’s website

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