Entering the United States can be a complex process for foreign nationals because getting a visa depends on one’s situation, employment, and history. An A-1 visa is one of many employment visa options; in fact, the large majority of people seeking to enter the States may be better served with other immigration visas. However, for government officials and employees, the A-1 visa is the best way to temporarily reside in the United States.
A-1 visas are available for foreign nationals or diplomats who seek entry into the United States. These visas are available for application, and working with an immigration attorney can greatly improve the process. Read on to learn more about A-1 visas.
A-1 Visa Requirements
The A-1 visa is a narrow but important category of visas specifically designated for government officials. These include ministers, representatives from the EU (European Union) or AU (African Union), consular officers who will be serving in the consulate or embassy in the US, and heads of state (like presidents and ambassadors). In addition to the government official, family members (spouses and children under the age of 21) can also obtain A-1 visas to travel with their family members.
While having a government position is a minimum requirement of the A-1 visa, it is not a guarantee on its own that an applicant will receive a visa. Applicants must also be traveling to the United States specifically for diplomatic purposes; a foreign president seeking to vacation in the United States will not be eligible for an A-1 visa and must instead seek a tourist visa using the normal method.
The Application Process
Applying for an A-1 visa is relatively simple and due to their nature for diplomatic business, they are processed faster than most other visas. First, an applicant must acquire a diplomatic passport; this must be done before the A-1 application process can begin. Then, the foreign diplomat must fill out a DS-160 to provide personal details and information about the nature of the trip.
When the DS-160 is filed, an applicant must provide further information about the details of their government position. This includes the diplomatic passport (which must be valid for six months beyond the date of departure from the U.S.), the confirmation page received when the DS-160 was completed, a photograph, and a government note detailing the applicant’s personal details and reasons for the visit. This note should also include the itinerary, who the diplomat is traveling with (if anyone), and relevant job duties.
How Long Does The Application Take To Get Approved?
The A-1 visa is one of the quickest visas for approval. The processing may sometimes occur on the same day as the interview if all included information is sufficient. A simple stamp on the foreign national’s passport is sufficient to demonstrate that the diplomat has been approved for an A-1 visa, and at this point, he or she can make arrangements to travel to the United States immediately.
Can I Get A Green Card With An A-1 Visa?
While it is not impossible to acquire a green card from an A-1 visa stay, it is unlikely. Qualifying circumstances might be if the applicant can prove that returning to their home country is dangerous or if they marry a United States citizen or make significant investments into US businesses. In any of these situations, the applicant would be required to give up their diplomatic status in a foreign country. For example, a foreign prime minister may no longer keep that title and become a legal permanent resident of the United States.
In addition to the specific and unusual circumstances that would enable an A-1 visa holder to acquire a green card, any protections under the A-1 visa category would be removed to acquire legal permanent residence. Visa holders are exempt from being tried or prosecuted for a crime in the United States; they must instead use the justice system of their home country. This means that an A-1 visa holder seeking a green card would lose this protection, and if the A-1 visa holder relinquishes his visa, this will have effects on the family members who also hold an A-1 visa.
Speak With An Experienced Immigration Attorney
For diplomats and other government officials who are seeking to enter the US for political purposes, ensuring that they can get a visa in a timely manner is important. That is why it is crucial to work with an immigration attorney with years of experience. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge can assist you in compiling your A-1 visa petition comprehensively and thoroughly so that you have the best chance of receiving your visa on the same day or the next day.
By relying on a skilled attorney for guidance, you will see the greatest chance of success and receive your visa to enter the United States quickly and efficiently, with minimal hassle. Having a skilled attorney allows you to worry less about your immigration status and more about the important diplomatic business for which you are entering the United States. Give us a call at 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.