Diplomatic Visas

Diplomatic Visas

Immigration Solutions is proud to offer services related to applying for certain types of diplomatic visas.  We are able to offer assistance to individuals seeking A-Visas, reserved for diplomats and foreign officials performing duties on behalf of their government, and G-Visas for those individuals working at certain international organizations within the United States. 

Most immigration lawyers do not offer these services because of their relative rarity and because of the unique rules and regulations governing these types of visas. Furthermore, diplomatic visa holders must consider issues that are wholly distinct from all other types of immigrants and nonimmigrants before filing applications with US immigration officials, including, but not limited to, issues pertaining to diplomatic immunity.

Due to the complexity of these issues, it is highly advisable to contact an immigration attorney that is well versed in issues specific to diplomatic visas before filing applications either with U.S.C.I.S. or with the Department of States. 

Types of Diplomatic Visas

A1-Visas

A-1 visas are available to ambassadors, public ministers, or career diplomatic or consular officers.  Immediate relatives of individuals holding these positions can also qualify for A-1 status.

A-2 visas

An A-2 visa is based on reciprocity and granted to other officials and employees who have been accredited by a foreign government and who are accepted by the Secretary of State. Members of the immediate families of these officials and employees also receive A-2 visas.

A-3 Visas

A-3 visas are available to attendants, servants, and personal employees of A-1 and A-2 visa holders. 

G-Visas

G-Visas are available to individuals working at certain international organizations within the United States. There are five different types of G-Visa:

  • G-l status is given to the principal resident representative to a permanent mission of a recognized international organization and to his or her immediate family members and staff.  G-1 visas are designated for members of a permanent mission of a recognized government.
  • G-2 status is awarded to representatives of recognized governments and their immediate families who are traveling to the United States temporarily to attend meetings of a recognized international organization.
  • G-3 status is issued to representatives of non-recognized or non-member governments and to members of their immediate families to allow them to attend temporary meetings of recognized international organizations.
  • G-4 status is reserved for officers and employees, of any rank, of international organizations, and their immediate family members. Officers and employees of designated international organizations who are not assigned in the United States may be accorded G-4 classification if they intend to transit the United States.
  • G-5 status is given to attendants, servants, and personal employees of G-1 through G-4 visa status holders.

Unique Immigration Issues for Holders of Diplomatic Visas

Immigration Solutions LLC not only offers assistance on primary applications for diplomatic visas, but also offers assistance in supporting immigration applications (such as applications for work authorization) and assistance in changing one’s immigration status from a diplomatic status to another nonimmigrant status (such as a student visa or an H1B visa).  When an applicant holds a diplomatic visa, many “routine” immigration applications require additional levels of approval from the US Department of State and are thus more complex than they would be otherwise. 

Immigration Solutions LLC offers the following services for individuals currently holding diplomatic visas:

Work Authorization for Holders of Diplomatic Visas

The spouse and dependent family members of A-1, A-2, G-1, G-3, and G-4 visa holders are eligible for work authorization in the United States, however they must affirmatively apply for work authorization status.   Immigration Solutions can assist in obtaining work authorization status and discuss with you the implications that working in the United States can have on diplomatic immunity. 

Change of Nonimmigrant Status for Primary Diplomatic Visa Holders and their Spouses

U.S.C.I.S. does not permit primary diplomatic visa holders or their spouses to change from a diplomatic visa to a different nonimmigrant visa.  For example, a principal G-4 visa holder cannot directly change his immigration status from G-4 status to H1B status.  Immigration Solutions LLC can provide procedural guidance to ensure that status changes are handled successfully and with minimum disruptions. 

Change of Nonimmigrant Status for Children of Primary Diplomatic Visa Holders

It is not uncommon for children of principal diplomatic visa holders to seek to change their immigration status from diplomatic visas to F-1 Student Visas. 

While the child of a diplomatic visa holder is not necessarily barred from changing his or her status directly from a diplomatic visa to a nonimmigrant visa, unique considerations may apply.  

Paths to Permanent Resident Status for Certain Diplomatic Visa Holders

Green Cards for Children Born in the United States to Foreign Diplomatic Officers

Children born in the United States to “foreign diplomatic officers” are not U.S. citizens. US immigration law treats children in this situation as Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs).  However, children in this situation are not automatically given green cards.  The US government will not provide evidence of LPR status unless the applicant waives all rights, privileges, exemptions, and immunities of diplomatic status.  Additionally, children in this situation can lose their LPR status in a number of ways. 

Special Permanent Residence

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a unique track to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status for certain G-4 visa holders. 

  • Former Employees of International Organizations may be eligible for LPR status if they:
    • Resided and were physically present in the United States for an aggregate period of at least 15 years prior to retirement;
    • They maintained G-4 nonimmigrant status during the relevant periods of residence and physical presence;
    • They have resided and been physically present in the United States for periods totaling one-half of the seven years prior to applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status; and
    • They applied for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status within six months of their retirement.
  • Widows of Officers or employees of International Organizations
    • They resided and were physically present in the United States for aggregate periods of at least 15 years before the death of the officer or employee;
    • They maintained either G-4 or N nonimmigrant status during the relevant periods of residence and physical presence;
    • They have resided and been physically present in the United States for periods totaling one-half of the seven years prior to applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status; 
and
    • They applied for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status within six months of the death of the officer or employee.
  • Unmarried Sons and daughters of former officers or employees of international organizations
    • They resided and were physically present in the United States for an aggregate of seven years between the ages of 5 and 21 years,
    • They maintained G-4 or N nonimmigrant status during the relevant periods of residence and physical presence;
    • They have resided and been physically present in the United States for periods totaling one-half of the seven years prior to an application for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status; 
and
    • They applied for a visa or adjustment of status no later than their 25th birthday.

Section 13 Adjustment of Status

In extremely limited circumstances, A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 visa holders may be immediately eligible to adjust their immigration of status to that of a Legal Permanent Resident.  This option is available to certain foreign officials who can demonstrate “compelling reasons” for being unable to return to their country of origin.  In order to qualify for Section 13 Adjustment, an applicant must show that:

  • He was admitted to the United States as an A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 visa holder;
  • He failed to maintain that status;
  • He has a “compelling reason” why he cannot return to his home country;
  • He is a person of good moral character;
  • He is admissible to the United States;
  • He must have performed diplomatic or semi-diplomatic duties
  • It would be in the National Interest of the United States to grant him LPR status

For additional information and assistance, contact our immigration attorneys at 617-536-0584, info@immsolutions.com. Or send us a note here.

N Visa

Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), certain representatives and staff from member countries can enter the U.S. with temporary visas. Under the treaty, these visa holders are not subject to normal immigration inspections and documentary requirements.  Instead, consular officials decide whether they are admitted.  Admission is for as long as the Secretary of State recognizes their status. Employment authorization is obtained through the State Department.

An alien shall be classified under the symbol NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, or NATO-5 if he or she is seeking admission to the United States under the applicable provision of the Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, National Representatives and International Staff, or is a member of the immediate family of an alien classified NATO-1 through NATO-5.

However, many armed forces personnel are exempt from passport and visa requirements if they are either attached to NATO Allied Headquarters in the United States and are traveling on official business, or are entering the United States under NATO Status of Forces Agreement.  In the case of the latter, they must carry official military ID cards and NATO travel orders.  Personnel of foreign armed services from other than NATO countries coming to the United States in connection with their military status for education or training at any of the U.S. military schools qualify for A-2 visas.

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