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    A Visa

    Are you a foreign government official or a diplomat?

    Will you be traveling to the United States on behalf of your government or country?

    If you responded “Yes” to the above, then the A-visa is likely to be the appropriate one for you! The A category visa is for government officials and diplomats intending to enter the United States to conduct official business on behalf of their country. 

    The different types of A-visas are as follows:

    • A-1: Diplomats, ambassadors, consular officers, public ministers, and their immediate family
    • A-2: Government officials and their immediate family
    • A-2: NATO 1-6 visa: Members of foreign military services
    • A-3: Domestic staff of an A1 or A2 visa holder and/or immediate family.

    For an A-1 or A-2 visa, you must be traveling to the United States on behalf of your government for official activities only. Foreign officials traveling to the United States on official business must get an A-visa before entering the United States. Foreign officials cannot enter the United States on a tourist visa or under the Visa Waiver Program 1 if they travel for work purposes. Qualified A visa applicants traveling to the United States for assignments of less than 90 days will be issued visas that fall under the category of  Temporary Duty (TDY).

    What Documents Are Required To Obtain An A-Visa?

    The documents required for an A-visa are as follows:

    • A diplomatic note: The diplomatic note is a document in writing from the foreign government confirming the applicant’s status. For A-3 applicants, the diplomatic note should confirm the employer’s official status.
    • A valid passport: Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the time you intend to stay in the United States.

    Is An Interview And/Or Fingerprinting Required For An A-Visa?

    Generally, visa applications require an interview of the applicant at the U. S. Embassy. However, for diplomats applying for an A-1 or A-2 visa, an interview is not usually necessary but can be requested by the consular officer. An interview is required for A-3 visa applicants (domestic staff members) as part of the visa process. 

    Fingerprints are not required for children under 14 or adults over 79. If you have a diplomatic or official passport but apply for other types of visas, you will be fingerprinted.

    Can My Family Accompany Me To The United States On An A-Visa?

    You can bring your immediate families, such as your spouse, unmarried sons, daughters, close relatives who are related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, as long as they live with you and are recognized by your government as your dependents. If you are not married to your partner, even if they are your dependent, you cannot apply for him or her as a derivative (i.e., they are ineligible for obtaining an A-visa). Special allowances are made for same-sex couples. A domestic partner may be eligible for an A-visa as a dependent if the country he or she is from provides the same treatment to domestic partners of the United States. “Domestic partner” means a same-sex domestic partner and does not apply to opposite-sex relationships.

    Can I Bring My Private Employees? What Documents Do They Need?

    Personal employees, attendants, domestic workers, or servants of A-1 or A-2 visa holders may be issued an A-3 visa. An interview at the embassy or consulate is required. The A-3 applicant must prove that they will receive a fair wage from their employer, enough to support the domestic worker financially. The law requires that the fees paid to the domestic workers are at par with the wages of American employees performing similar jobs. It is also necessary that the A-3 applicant shows that they will be doing the type of work mentioned in their employment contract. Applicants for A-3 visas must apply for a visa abroad before entering the United States. The United States consular officer will determine if the person is eligible for the A-3 visa.

    Suppose the employer is not a Minister or higher or holds a position equivalent to Minister or higher. In that case, the employer must demonstrate that he or she has sufficient funds to pay for the A-3 applicant’s fair wages and good working conditions, as reflected in the contract.

    What Documents Are Required For The A-3 Visa?

    The A-3 visa applicant employee must bring their employment contract to the required visa interview. The applicant must also ensure that the applicant and his employer have signed the agreement. The contract must be in English, the employee should be aware of the terms and conditions of the contract, and both employer and employee must sign the contract.

     The agreement must contain information which states:

    a description of the employee’s duties, the hours of work, the hourly wage the employee will be paid, the frequency that the employee will be paid, a provision concerning overtime work, how the employee will be paid, and other required terms of employment. The rate at which the employee will be paid must be at least the state or federal minimum wage-whichever is greater. The A-3 applicant employee has to affirm that they will not accept any other work while working for their employer. The employer has to promise that he or she will not hold the employee’s passport after the employee arrives in the United States. Additionally, the contract should specify that the employer understands that the employee will not be forced to stay on the premises after working hours unless he or she is paid overtime wages. The A-3 applicant employee will also need to bring a photocopy of the diplomatic note confirming their employer’s official status.

    How Long Can I Stay In The United States On An A-Visa?

    On an A-1 or A-2 visa, you are admitted for “Duration of Status” (D/S), which means you can stay in the United States, as long as the US Secretary of State recognizes the A-visa holder as a member of the diplomatic category. You do not need to apply for an extension of stay. But on an A-3 visa, you are generally admitted for three years. After that, you can apply for extensions for periods not exceeding two years.

    Conclusion

    If you are a foreign official or diplomat entering the United States on official state business, the A-visa may be your best choice. As an A-visa holder, relatives such as your spouse and children, as well as private staff members, may be allowed to enter the United States. Proof of the official business intended to be performed by the foreign official or diplomat is required for all A-visa applicants. Domestic staff members of A-1 or A-2 visa holders must bring specific documents along with them for the visa interview in the US Embassy or Consulate’s office.

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