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The A visas are for diplomats, consular staff, other foreign government officials and their family dependents, and personal employees. Spouses and minor children are eligible for the same A visa classification as the principal worker. Domestic servants, attendants, and personal employees are eligible for A-3 status. A visa holders may only use this visa classification to conduct official business on behalf of the home country.
The A-1 visa is for foreign dignitaries representing their country and conducting official business on behalf of the home country in the United States, including heads of state, ministers, cabinet members, delegates from the European Union and African Union, ambassadors, and consuls. They travel on diplomatic passports.
The A-2 visa is for all other full-time foreign government employees who will conduct official business of the home country at an embassy, consulate, mission or military base in the United States. Some travel on diplomatic passports and some do not, depending on the nature and diplomatic rank of the position.
The A-3 visa is for certain attendants, domestic servants and personal employees of A-1 and A-2 foreign officials. A contract of employment with the A-1 or A-2 principal visa holder is required. The employment contract must guarantee that the A-3 worker will be paid at least the minimum wage, and the A-1 or A-2 employer will comply with all applicable federal, state and local labor and employment laws in the United States. The A-3 worker must be allowed to retain his or her passport, and a copy of the employment contract.
All A-1, A-2 & A-3 visas are issued directly at a U.S. Embassy or consulate in the home country. The applicant must present an official “diplomatic note” issued by the sending government: It must contain the official or government employee’s full name, date of birth, position & title, duties, location of assignment in the United States, and anticipated length of the assignment or tour of duty. The note must also contain the names, dates of birth, and relationship to the principal of any dependent family members, attendants or personal employees accompanying the principal visa holder.
A visas are issued for an initial validity period of up to three years. Travelers with A-1, A-2 or A-3 visas are admitted for duration of status, or “D/S”. All diplomats, foreign government officials, and their dependents and employees must register with the Department of States through their foreign employer once they enter the U.S., and are given a “personal identification number”, which may be needed for any future change to another visa status or to permanent residence. Some but not all A-1 and A-2 family dependents are eligible to apply for an employment authorization document in the United States, based on reciprocal agreements with the sending country, and the type of diplomatic position held by the principal.
If you would like more information about A-1, A-2 or A-3 visas, contact Karin Wolman today!