Every year, a few of our top students are foreign citizens. Can they apply for federal judicial clerkships?
The answer it turns out, is generally yes, if they're from countries that have a qualifying defense treaty (or some other qualifying treaty) with the U.S.: "Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba (as a signatory of the Rio Treaty in 1947), Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela." They may need to upgrade their education visa (if that's what they have) to a temporary work visa, but apparently that's not that hard to do, and happens often enough. (I'm speaking here only of federal clerkships; I don't know if some states imposed different rules for their judiciaries.)
Naturally, some judges may prefer to hire U.S. citizens rather than noncitizens, and especially than noncitizens for whom some immigration law hoops would have to be jumped through — to my knowledge they are not restrained from implementing such a preference — but I suspect that many judges don't care much about that. So if you're
one of those darned furriners a citizen of one of our fine friends and allies except for Canada, damn it, don't feel reluctant to apply.
UPDATE: Peter Spiro (Opinio Juris) asks a broader policy question about this.