Visa Guide: the A1 Visa

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • A1 visa is a special diplomatic visa for government officials.
  • It grants entry to the U.S. for heads of state, consular officers, ministers, and representatives from international organizations.
  • Faster processing, immunity from prosecution, and benefits accompany the A1 visa.
  • Application requires a diplomatic passport, Form DS-160, and supporting documents; dependents can also travel and may be eligible to work or study.

If you are traveling for non-immigrant purposes in the US, an A1 visa which is also known as a diplomatic visa or official visa can prove to be most beneficial. So what exactly is an A1 visa? Let’s find out.

What Is An A1 Visa?

A1 Visa is a special type of visa that can be held by certain Government employees only. These include:

  • Any Head of State or the President of a government
  • Any consular officer who is likely to be serving in the consulate or the embassy within the United States of America
  • Ministers of any country visiting the USA on a government job or task
  • Representatives from the European Union or the African Union

Since this Visa permits the entry of government officials into the USA for diplomatic purposes, the locals are not allowed to have this Visa. Along with these government officials, close family members like spouses and under-21 children are also allowed to travel on an A1 visa.

It is important to mention here that these visas are processed faster than the normal visa applications. The visa holders cannot be tried in any US court during their stay irrespective of their crime.

A2 Visa

This kind of A visa is approved for government officials other than the ones mentioned above

A3 Visa

This visa is applicable for assistants of government officials holding A1 or A2 Visa and their immediate families

What Are The Requirements Of The A1 Visa?

A1 Visa application requires applicants to hold special Government positions in their respective countries. Additionally, they must be traveling to the United States for an official or diplomatic purpose. The requirements are based mainly on government positions held. These include:

  • High-level government officials including heads of states, legislature heads or judicial heads
  • Officials representing their country in the consulate or embassy
  • Representatives from different countries fostering diplomatic relations within the US
  • Representatives from countries not holding diplomatic relations in the US but are still visiting for the interest of the country are also granted A1 visa

How To Apply For The A1 Visa?

The application for an A1 visa is fairly simple. It is also processed faster than the other visas. However, there is one catch here. The applicant cannot start the process unless they hold a Diplomatic Passport. There are two primary procedures involved in the application process.

Fill Out Form DS-160

This is a simple form that is available online, collecting primarily your personal information. This also requires the reason for the visit in detail. Once all the fields are populated, the form is submitted with a confirmation code or page. This document should be saved for use later on in the process.

Submit The Necessary A1 Visa Documentation

Along with the form, the following documents are to be submitted to the US Embassy:

  • A diplomatic passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of intended departure from the US
  • The confirmation page from the DS-160 form submission
  • A photograph catering to the US Visa requirements
  • A Note from the Country’s government with details like full name, date of birth, government position held, the purpose of travel, job duties, travel period, details of dependents or assistants traveling with the individuals

How Long Is The Processing Time For The A1 Visa?

The processing time for A1 Visa is very less as compared to other Visa applications. Once the form is filled up and the necessary documents are submitted to the US Embassy, visa applications could be approved in as less as one day. This is an immediate response. All you will need is a stamp on your passport from the concerned official in the Embassy. Once that is done, you are good to go and can make travel arrangements from your home country to the US.

What is the Validity of an A1 Visa?

There are two types of validity periods associated with A1 visas. In the first situation, the visa is approved for only the intended period of stay. This could be for one month or two months. If you are nearing the end of the visa period, you could go ahead and request for an extension with a note from your country’s government stating the reasons for this extension. On the other hand, the visa could be approved for an indefinite period of time. In that case, you are permitted to stay in the country for as long as your Government position is eligible in the A1 visa.

What happens if you resign from your position during your stay in the US? In this situation, you could wait in the US until the Department of State actually updates its records and identifies your resignation. Otherwise, you could also apply for a change in your record status or that of your dependents during your Visa period.

Can I Get A Green Card With An A1 Visa?

It is highly unlikely for you to receive your Green Card while you are in the United States for an A1 Visa. However, it is not entirely impossible. This requirement would basically mean that you give up your diplomatic status with your home country. This would make you a permanent member of the US, but you would not be able to enjoy the benefits offered by the A1 Visa. For instance, one of the benefits is that the individuals could not be tried in any court in this country irrespective of their crime. The Form I-508 would need to be submitted for giving up on the privileges.

Another alternative method to get your Green Card during the Visa Tenure could be accomplished through marriage or investment within this country. Also, if the applicant can prove that they cannot return to their home country safely, they could also be eligible for a Green card during the A1 visa period.

Can My Dependents Accompany Me With An A1 Visa?

Yes, the dependents of the A1 visa holders can actually accompany them to the United States. This would include the spouse of the diplomat and their children under the age of 21 years. In addition, this privilege could be extended to the immediate family or close relatives as well.

Now, what is the status of dependents traveling to the US? They are actually eligible to work in this country after getting the necessary authorization from USCIS. An Employment Authorization Document would be of primary importance here. This facility is not extended for dependents willing to work in the States alone. Students, who are a part of the dependent tree in the diplomat’s profile, could also pursue their education here. They are permitted to enroll in an academic program in the country and to complete their higher studies. These are the various benefits offered to the dependents of the A1 visa holders.

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An A1 Visa proves to be very useful for people holding special Diplomatic positions within their country’s government. This application is a simple one and is processed rather quickly if you are traveling to the United States for diplomatic purposes. In addition, there are a lot of benefits and privileges offered with this Visa to the applicants. Along with the government diplomats, their dependents and immediate family can also travel to the US, work there on a special permit or pursue their education from the country’s academic programs. Other government officials and assistants to government officials could use A2 and A3 visa respectively.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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