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Nadia Zaiem Dec. 18, 2014

Visas for Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials (a-1 Visas)

While Heads of State (e.g. Presidents, Prime Ministers, etc.) qualify for an A visa regardless of their purpose in traveling to the United States, in order to be eligible for an A-1 or A-2 visa, a diplomat or foreign government official must be traveling to the United States on behalf of their national government for the sole purpose of engaging in official activities for that government, rather than as a tourist or for personal business. Therefore, the purpose for travel to the United States must be governmental in nature. Whether or not this is the purpose of the diplomat’s or foreign government official’s will be determined by the U.S. State Department. Where that is the purpose of travel, the diplomat or foreign government official must enter on an A-1 or A-2 visa, not on a tourist visa.

A-1 or A-2 visas are also available to immediate family members of diplomats and government officials (including spouses, unmarried children, relatives of spouses, domestic partners, and relatives of domestic partners) and A-3 visas may be available for the diplomat’s or foreign government official’s foreign employees, attendants, or domestic workers.

The application process varies depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the diplomat or foreign government official is applying. However, as a part of the application process, the applicant will need to complete the State’s Department’s online application and submit the required documentation to the Embassy or Consulate. Generally, interviews are not required for those applying for A-1 or A-2 visas, however, they are required for A-3 applicants. A-3 applicant’s will also be required to submit additional information proving that they will receive a fair wage sufficient to financially support themselves and that they will be performing the contracted employment duties.

Once in the United States, only A-1 and A-2 visas may be renewed in the United States. A-3 visa holders, however, must apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence.

For more information on A visas, you can visit the State Department website.