A Visa: Nonimmigrant visa for diplomats and foreign government officials
A visas are for diplomats and government officials who are visiting the United States on behalf of their government. A visas are divided into A-1, A-2 and A-3 subcategories. Which subcategory is suitable for you depends on your position and the purpose of your official visit.
A-1 visas are for the following government officials, among others:
- Head of State or Government, irrespective of the purpose of travel
- Ambassadors and consuls
- Ministers and cabinet members who are visiting the U.S. on an official mission
- European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) delegation representatives
- An A-1 visa holder’s immediate family members
A-2 visas are for the following foreign government officials and employees, among others:
- Full-time employees of a foreign country’s embassy or consulate
- Government officials who are performing official duties in the United States based on the written request of their home country’s government
- Military members positioned at a U.S. military base, foreign embassy or consulate in the U.S.
- Staff of EU or AU delegations
- Immediate family members of A-2 visa holders
A-3 visas are for personal employees, attendants, domestic workers or servants of A-1 or A-2 visa holders (see more below).
Government officials traveling to the U.S. on a non-official mission, such as tourism or commerce, are required to obtain a B visa. This rule does not apply to a Head of State or Government, who always has to travel on an A visa regardless of the purpose of the travel.
A visa application process
The A visa application process depends on the specific U.S. consulate where an applicant is applying for the visa. Therefore, one should check the visa application instructions on the specific consulate’s website. A-1 and A-2 visa applicants are not required to attend an interview at a consulate, but in some cases a consular officer might request an interview. A-3 visa applicants are always required to go through the interview process.
The application process starts with completing and submitting Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application to the U.S. consulate or Embassy abroad. If an A-1 or A-2 visa applicant already holds a visa and wants to renew it, he will have to complete Form DS-1648 instead of DS-160. Apart from a passport, application form, photos and visa fee, A-1 and A-2 visa applicants are also required to submit a diplomatic note along with their application. The diplomatic note is a written statement from the applicant’s government, which verifies his or her official status and describes the purpose of the travel. A-3 visa applicants are also required to submit a diplomatic note verifying the official status of their employers.
Immediate family members of government officials and diplomats
Immediate family members of government officials and diplomats are also eligible for an A-1 or A-2 visa. For A visa eligibility purposes, immediate family members are spouses and children of any age as well as other members of the household who will regularly reside in the household of an A visa holder government official or diplomat. Those family members who are not eligible for an A visa should apply for a B-2 visitor visa.
A-3 visa applicants
An A-3 visa is for personal employees, attendants, domestic workers or servants of A-1 or A-2 visa holders. Apart from a nonimmigrant visa application and other supporting documents, A-3 visa applicants are also required to submit an employment contract, which should include the following: the employee’s duties and hours of work; minimum wage; terms on overtime work and payment; the employer’s responsibility to provide the employee with transportation to and from the United States; a statement from the employer that he or she will abide federal, state and local laws of the United States; the employee’s commitment to work only for the employer and not to accept a job from anyone else; and other legal terms of employment.
After submission of the application form and supporting documents, an A-3 visa applicant is required to attend an interview at the U.S. consulate.
Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (917) 426-8227 or (248) 630-3239. I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world. My law offices are conveniently located in Lower Manhattan, New York and in Troy, Michigan for in-person meetings. For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.