US Visa Number
Home » A1 Visa Guide for Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials

A1 Visa Guide for Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials

The A1 Visa is for foreign dignitaries who are representing their country and conducting official business on behalf of their home country in the United States. This includes heads of state, ministers, cabinet members, delegates from the European Union and African Union, ambassadors, and consuls.

Moreover, A1 is also known as a diplomatic or official visa. It is meant for diplomats and officials from other countries of the world who want to come into the United States of America.

Therefore, this article has provided you with detailed information about A1 Visa. So, you are going to discover the application process, requirements, A1 Visa validity period and many more from this article as you read further.

What is U.S A1 Visa?

The A1 Visa is a non-immigrant US visa which allows high government officials to enter the US. Officials with this Visa can enter US for purposes which relate to the development of diplomatic relations between the US and a foreign country. Because of this, local government officials are not eligible for the A1 Visa.

Having known that the A1 Visa is the visa which only government workers can obtain. This includes the following government positions:

  • Head of State such as the President.
  • Consular officer who will serve in their country’s consulate or embassy within the US.
  • Ministers or cabinet members of a foreign country going to the US for government purposes.
  • European Union (EU) representative of government.
  • African Union (AU) representatives of government.

Furthermore, this also includes the close families of the above mentioned groups, such as their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old. Moreover, the A1 Visa allows its holders to engage in a variety of activities within the US.

Advantages and limitations of an A1 Visa holder

As an A1 Visa holder, there are certain benefits and privileges you have. Some of those advantages are:

  • A1 Visa holders can travel in and out of the US for unlimited times, as long as their visas are valid
  • They cannot be tried by any US court in the US government, despite the crime
  • Their visas are processed faster than any other non-immigrant visa

Nevertheless, US government can revoke your A1 Visa if the following happen:

  • If you are planning to overthrow the US government through unlawful means or terrorism.
  • Or you are planning to commit crimes, engage in espionage, or export good or sensitive information which are prohibited in the US.
  • If the Secretary of State determines that there are negative foreign policy consequences when you enter the US.

Moreover, A1 Visa holders are not allowed to gain employment in the US. They are in the country for government purposes, so the US government will not allow them to work. Also, A1 Visa holders cannot enroll in study or academic programs, since it does not give them time to focus on their primary purpose of visit. Unless you are not for government official purpose and you are with any of the following visas, F1 Visa or O1 Visa and others.

Types of US Diplomatic Visa

There are different types of US A Visa. This is made because there are multiple levels of diplomacy and there are various officials of government. So the US government made the A visa into 4 types which are:

  • A1 Visa, which is for Diplomats, Consular Officers, Public Ministers, Ambassadors, and their families
  • A-2 visa, which is for other government officials or staff as well as their families
  • A2, NATO1-6 visa, which is for military staff from other countries who will be serving in the US
  • A-3 visa, which is for government personal employees, attendants, or servants of A-1 and A-2 visa holders, as well as their immediate family.

Moreover, all these diplomatic visas are designed in such a way that the people holding them cannot travel with the Visa Waiver Program. Instead, they must apply for the visa and the US must approve it before they can travel.

So each applicant of any A type visas must show a valid purpose of travel. This means that A visa applicants cannot travel to the US only for travel purposes. If a government attendant, for example, wants to visit the US for touristic purposes, they cannot get an A-3 visa. Instead, they must apply for the visitor visa like O3 Visa and others.

Applicants must have a reason which is related to government work in order to be allowed to get an A visa. This rule does not apply only for the Head of State or Government (for example the President), who can get an A type visa for any purpose of travel.

Eligibility Requirements for the A1 Visa

Before anybody or any government official gets this A1 Visa, such an individual will have to meet certain requirements like:

  • High level officials such as head of state or ministers, as well as judicial officers and legislative leaders.
  • Ambassadors or consular officers which visit the US for diplomatic purposes.
  • All representatives of foreign states which have diplomatic relations with the US.
  • Representatives of countries which do not have diplomatic relations with the US could be allowed to get the A1 Visa if it is determined that visiting the US is in the interest of the country.

Apart from meeting the requirements for the positions within the government, each applicant must also show the purpose of their visit. The purpose must qualify as being government related, or the applicants will not be eligible to apply for an A1 Visa.

Application Process for A1 Visa

There is a straightforward application process for the A1 Visa. This Visa has less procedures than other non-immigrant visas. However, the application cannot be started unless the person applying has a diplomatic passport.

So if you have just been appointed in a government position which qualifies you for the A1 Visa, you must get your diplomatic passport before applying.

If you are within the US on another type of visa, you can send your A1 Visa applications to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But if you are outside the US, you must go through a US embassy or consulate located in your country of residence.

After you get your diplomatic passport, the application procedure for the A1 Visa is as follows:

#1. Fill out Form DS-160

The first thing to do is to fill form DS-160. This is an online application form used for non-immigrant visas. Depending on the visa you are applying for, it will have the appropriate fields you need to fill. It collects your main personal information as well as information on your purpose of visit. At the end of your application, when you submit it, you will get a visa confirmation code or page. You must save this, since you will need it for later in the application process.

#2. Submit the necessary A1 Visa documentation

Together with your Form DS-160, you will also need to submit a folder with documents to the US Embassy or USCIS, depending on where you are applying from. These documents are necessary for your A1 Visa application to be complete:

  • A valid diplomatic passport: The passport must have a validity period of more than 6 months after your intended departure from the US.
  • Your Form DS-160 confirmation page which you will get when you complete the form.
  • One photograph meeting the US visa Photo Requirements.
  • Diplomatic note written from your country’s government. The note must include:
  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Position within the government
  • Purpose of travel
  • Description of your duties and job position
  • Intended travel period
  • Names, dates of birth, and relationship with your dependents, if they intend to travel with you
  • Also names, dates of birth, and job positions of attendants or servants, if you need them to travel with you

Besides the Form DS-160 and the supporting documents, applicants of the A1 Visa will not need to go through other procedures. Visa interviews which are usually held for other types of US visas, but are not required for the A-1 and A-2 visas. However, the US Embassy is allowed to require an interview if they see a reason for it.

A1 Visa Validity

Once you obtain the A1 Visa, the US Embassy can give you a period of validity only for your intended travel dates or for an indefinite time. So if you are traveling between September 1 and October 1, then the Embassy might choose to have your visa valid only for that 1 month. However, if you are given the visa for an indefinite period of time, you are allowed to stay in the US as long as the US government recognizes your position in the government as qualifying for an A1 Visa.

In case you resign, you are not required to immediately go back to your country of residence. The Department of State (DOS) takes some time to update their records, and when they recognize your resignation, you are required to return.

If your period of validity is coming to an end, you can request an extension by submitting it to the DOS. You must also have a letter from your government outlining the reasons as to why you need an extension of stay.

Additionally, you can also request a change of status while you are in the US. To do this, you must submit Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request A, G or NATO Dependent Employment Authorization or Change/Adjustment to/ from A, G or NATO Status. This form must be submitted to the DOS. If your dependents are also applying for a change of status, you must include them in the form.


Can I get a Green Card with an A1 Visa?

Getting a Green Card with an A1 Visa is quite difficult, but not impossible. In order to become a lawful permanent resident of the US, A1 Visa holders will have to give up their diplomatic status. This means that they will not have the privileges that they had with an A1 Visa. To do this, they need to file Form I-508 – Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities.

Afterwards, A1 Visa holders can apply to get a Green Card through marriage, investment, or if they can prove that they cannot return to their home country safely.

Can my dependents accompany me with an A1 Visa?

As mentioned, A1 Visa holders can have their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old to come to the US. In addition, they can also bring their immediate family or close relatives too. The dependents are allowed to work after getting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS, and they are also allowed to study and enroll in an academic program in the US.

How long is the processing time for the A1 Visa?

After you submit your A1 Visa application, the processing times are extremely short. There are many cases when the visa response is immediately given on the same day when you submit your application. The US Embassy officer will stamp your passport and you can then begin to make travel arrangements for the US if you are applying from another country.

What is the difference between A1 and A2 visas?

For instance, the A1 visa is for multiple categories of people like officers, heads of state, ambassadors, public ministers, career diplomats, carrier couriers, and family members. An A2 visa can only be granted to accredited officials who are representing the national government traveling to the States.

Can an A1 visa holder work in the US?

A1 Visa holders are also not permitted to engage in employment while in the United States. You are permitted to visit the United States for official government purposes.

Can a diplomat get a green card?

Section 13 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of Sept. 11, 1957 was created by Congress to allow individuals who entered the United States under diplomatic status to obtain a Green Card (permanent residence).


So if you are a government official, proceed to obtain your A1 Visa and embark for your official visit to the United States of America. This Visa is already meant for you. Nevertheless, don’t forget to reach out to us at for further information.

Share this update:

Similar Posts