Federal Election Commission (FEC): Foreign National Participation in U.S. Elections

J-1 & YE | October 15, 2020

Are you a foreign national interested in U.S. politics? If you are looking to get involved, we want you to be aware of the do’s and don’ts of participation in election activities and events.

According to the Federal Election Campaign Act and other FEC regulations, foreign nationals are prohibited from most types of participation in United States elections. In addition to direct participation in communication or decision-making, any type of financial contribution to elections, organizations and parties is strictly forbidden.

However, for Exchange Visitors interested in becoming involved in elections, there are a few ways to contribute under what is called the “volunteer exemption”, which stipulates that the foreign national cannot be compensated. 

One activity that would fall under the volunteer exemption is through the creation of intellectual property, such as assisting in the graphic design of a website (pro bono). Another example is speaking at a campaign event.

For more information or examples of activities, visit the Federal Election Commission under the “Volunteer Activity” section.

If you want to learn more about U.S. elections and the electoral process, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, partner of our friends at the German-American Chamber of Commerce, hosted a virtual discussion that you can watch here.