Diplomats and other foreign government officials who wish to travel to the United States for any amount of time can do so by first obtaining an A visa, also referred to as a diplomatic visa. This type of visa is similar to others in that applicants must meet a certain set of requirements in order to qualify for the diplomatic (A) visa. The only exception to this law is made for the Head of State or Government, whose position automatically qualifies him or her for entry into the U.S. regardless of purpose.
According to U.S. immigration law, diplomats and foreign government officials must be traveling to the U.S. on behalf of their national government for the purpose of solely engaging in official activities for that government if they wish to enter the country through the utilization of an A-1 or A-2 visa. The decision of whether or not a diplomat qualifies for this type of visa will be decided upon by the consular office. Accordingly, any government official who is believed to be travelling to the U.S. on a non-government function of commercial nature or tourism cannot enter with an A visa.
One of the primary factors used to determine whether or not a foreign diplomat will qualify for an A visa is if government interest / control of a specific organization is involved. This, however, is not the only factor considered. In addition, it must be proven that the services which will be performed during a diplomat’s stay are government related in nature. Whether or not a diplomat’s duties in the U.S. will be for government-related purposes is a decision that is made by the United States Department of State as defined by U.S. immigration law.
The diplomatic (A) visa must be obtained prior to a diplomat’s date of travel to the U.S. in order to ensure that when they enter the country on official business, the visa is already in their possession. The laws that govern foreign officials who are traveling to the U.S. on official business are stringent; so stringent, in fact, that these persons are not permitted to travel on a tourist visa or even a free visa offered through the Visa Waiver Program. Diplomatic travel for government purposes must be done with an A visa.
In addition to the A-1 and A-2 visas that can be issued to traveling diplomats, A-3 visas are also available for the personal employees / servants / attendants / domestic workers of individuals who currently hold a diplomatic (A) visa. The application process for an A-3 visa includes an official interview at an embassy or consulate, as well as evidential proof that the applicant will receive fair and sufficient wages once they have been permitted to enter the U.S.
Individuals who wish to apply for an A-3 visa must do so outside of the United States. It will be up to the consular officer to determine whether or not the applicant is truly eligible for this type of visa. The initial travel expenses for a foreign national who is entering the United States on an A-3 visa will be covered by his or her employer, as will be his or her expenses for returning to their country of origin upon the termination of their assignment.
Immediate family status can be obtained by spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of diplomatic visa holders. Accordingly, these immediate family members can benefit from the same allowances of travel and entry into the U.S. as the member of the family who has already qualified for an A-1 or A-2 visa. Immediate family members who can benefit in this way include:
If an individual does not meet the specifications for an immediate family member as described above, another method of entry will need to be pursued. Most often, these individuals can qualify for entry through a B-2 visa. With the help of a New York City immigration lawyer from our firm, you and your family can accurately determine which visa will best fit the circumstances of your particular situation.
As you pursue an immigration matter of any nature, you will be best suited to do so under the direction and guidance of a legal professional in the field. Doing so can significantly better your chances of obtaining the visa that you need in order to enter the U.S. on lawful terms. Together, our team has more than half a century of experience working in the field of immigration law, and we are more than prepared to put this experience to work for you. To learn more about the visa application process, and how our firm can help, contact us today.