My dream job is in a US company for a position protected by ITAR requirements. As a foreigner, what are the possible ways I can meet these requirements ?
Become an American Citizen, Permanent Legal Resident or Refugee/Asylum Seeker
According to the US Gov site on ITAR regulations:
ITAR regulations dictate that information and material pertaining to defense and military related technologies may only be shared with "US Persons" unless approval from the Department of State is received. By definition, a "US Person" can be a US citizen; a protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3); a resident (green-card holder;) or a corporation, business, organization, or group that is incorporated in the United States under US law.
ITAR Regulation defines a US Person as follows:
U.S. person means a person (as defined in §120.14 of this part) who is a lawful permanent resident as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20) or who is a protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). It also means any corporation, business association, partnership, society, trust, or any other entity, organization or group that is incorporated to do business in the United States. It also includes any governmental (federal, state or local) entity. It does not include any foreign person as defined in §120.16 of this part.
8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3) Defines a protected individual as follows:
A “Protected individual” is an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence, is granted the status of an alien lawfully admitted for temporary residence under section 1160(a) or 1255a(a)(1) of this title, is admitted as a refugee under section 1157 of this title, or is granted asylum under section 1158 of this title; but does not include (i) an alien who fails to apply for naturalization within six months of the date the alien first becomes eligible (by virtue of period of lawful permanent residence) to apply for naturalization or, if later, within six months after November 6, 1986, and (ii) an alien who has applied on a timely basis, but has not been naturalized as a citizen within 2 years after the date of the application, unless the alien can establish that the alien is actively pursuing naturalization, except that time consumed in the Service’s processing the application shall not be counted toward the 2-year period.
Find a position working for a US Person on an ITAR project
As mentioned in PeterM's answer, if you are employed by a "US Person" as a foreign national, your employer may apply for and receive limited access to ITAR protected systems. The request would need to be submitted by your employer in the form of a DSP-5. The FAQ presented here has answers to common questions, but it is written for the employer, not for the prospective employee.
I work in a company that deals globally and is subject to ITAR restrictions and employees foreign nationals of many persuasions. While being a US citizen/resident is one way to work with ITAR related stuff it is possible for a foreign national to do so as long as they are individually licensed.
The term you want to look for is ITAR Licensing for Foreign Person Employees.
This is a complex procedure and I can't say that I understand it (as it is not relevant to me), but as an example of the complexities see things like:
State Department Licensing of Foreign Persons Employed by a U.S. Person
Random blog about ITAR Licensing for Foreign Person Employees
So it is possible to do, but is up to the employer to make this happen. The flip side is that it is possible to work for a company that deals in ITAR restricted stuff while not being licensed as long as the company provides the correct controls to isolate you from the ITAR restricted activities/information.
ITAR defines a US Person as an individual who is a US citizen, a US permanent resident (holds a Green Card), a protected person defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). There are also definitions for companies, but those won't apply to you as an individual applying for a job.
Having one of these statuses is the only way to meet the requirements.
Basically you need to become a Permanent resident.
So how do you do that? There are a few ways.
- There is the diversity lottery. If you live in an eligable country you can enter the lottery and have a small chance of getting permanent residence.
- You can be sponsored by a family member who is a citizen or permanent resident. Unfortunately this involves long delays.
- You can be sponsored by an employer. Unfortunately this route often involved long delays. Often people initially come in on a H1B or similr visa and then later get permanent residence.
- If you are rich you can start a buisness in the USA. There is a minimum investment of a million dollars, a minimum number of americans employed (don't recall the number offhand). This allows you to get "conditional permanent residence". After you have run the buisness for a sufficent time (a couple of years IIRC) you can file a petition to get the conditions removed.
The employer option is probablly the most practical one for most people. You need to figure out what skills are in sufficiently high demand that american companies will go throug the visa BS to bring you in and then aquire those skills. Doing a masters or PhD at an american university may well be helpful.