A2 Visa Guide for Diplomats, Ambassadors, and Government Officials

Updated on April 10, 2024

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A visas are special types of visas that allow diplomats, ambassadors, government officials, and their staff to travel to the United States. It is a non-immigrant visa category. But there are multiple kinds of A visas, and one of them is the A2 visa.

But what is the A2 visa, and what makes it different from the other visas in its category? Read on to find out.

What Is an A2 Visa?

An A2 visa is given to government employees, officials, or their families, as well as the support and technical staff. Included are also military personnel, as long as they are traveling for specific reasons, and nothing NATO related. An A2 Visa lasts for 5 years, and renewal is not possible. There is no foreign residence requirement while you have this visa.

So, in this regard, it is similar to the A1 visa, as it also allows government officials to enter the United States. At the same time, they are not accepted as diplomats. After all, they are part of a different category.

Luckily, though, if you have an A2 visa, you can stay in the country for as long as the Secretary of State acknowledges you as a member of the diplomat community. On top of that, you can get an extension as well.

Difference Between an A1 Visa and an A2 Visa

An A1 visa is given to ministers, diplomats, consular officers, ambassadors, and the immediate family members that they have. However, you have to be aware that people who are government officials usually don’t qualify for this type of visa if they travel for reasons not related to the government or anything of the sort. At the same time, a head of government or head of state will always have to get an A visa, no matter the reason for their travel.

A1 visa owners cannot be tried for a crime under US law. In addition, they have the right to travel between the U.S. and other countries for as many times as they wish. Those with an A1 visa also don’t have to worry about how much they stay in the States because they do not have a time limit in this regard. Also, they don’t have to maintain any foreign residence.

Meanwhile, A2 visa owners will have a limit of 5 years to stay in the U.S. Also, there are different types of visitors that can get one of these 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. Nevertheless, diplomats are an exception to this.

Who Qualifies for an A2 Visa?

As mentioned earlier, there are specific categories of people who will qualify for an A2 visa. These are:

  • Military members of foreign nations that have been assigned to a U.S. military base, or a foreign consulate or embassy for a temporary period (those traveling under any orders from NATO are not included).
  • Foreign employees or officials of a foreign government who are traveling to the U.S. for work-related reasons, or on a written request from their government, with the purpose of performing certain duties on their nation’s behalf
  • Immediate family of the A2 visa owner

Just keep in mind that diplomat officials are not eligible for this visa.

Required Documents for an A2 Visa

If you are going to apply for an A2 visa, then you will have to prepare some specific documents so that the process can go smoothly and properly. The documents should be sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate from your home country.

Here is a list of the documents you are going to need for this visa:

  • Passport – You must make sure that you have a valid passport that will also be available at least 6 months beyond your accepted stay period in the U.S. In case there is more than one person included on the passport, bear in mind that each person requiring a visa will need a separate application.
  • Diplomatic note – This document is pretty much a written confirmation from the government of your country, which states the reason for the travel. For an A2 visa applicant, the diplomatic note will have to contain specific information on it, provided by the government that sends it. For instance, it will have to contain the names, dates of birth, and relationships of any potential dependents or household members who will be coming to the U.S. with the employee or official. Additionally, the note needs to contain the name, position, title, date of birth, travel purpose, travel date, length of the stay in the U.S., place of assignment or visit, and a short description of the duties of the beneficiary.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page (this applies for people who apply outside of the States)
  • Photo – When completing your Form DS-160 online, you will have to upload your photo too. In case uploading the photo doesn’t work, you will have to print one and bring it according to the Photograph Requirements.
  • Copy of the Visa and I94 for the Principal Visa (this applies for immediate family members who apply separately from the main visa applicant).

How to Apply for an A2 Visa

Applying for the A2 visa is not difficult. It’s actually quite an easy process. Here are the steps you should go through when applying:

  • Complete a Form D-S160 and wait for the approval. After you receive the approval, you will have to submit it to the USCIS, after which a visa confirmation code will be sent to you.
  • Make sure you have the right documents ready and submit them to the USCIS or U.S. Embassy. These must include the D-S160 with its confirmation page, a photograph, a diplomatic passport, and a diplomatic note from your national government.

Luckily, you will not have to be interviewed.

A2 Visa Cost

Just like with an A1 Visa, people applying for an A2 visa will not have to deal with any fees. You are exempt from paying any, which is a big advantage if you want to save some money.

A2 Visa Processing Time

After submitting the application, it takes a short amount of time to get approval. You will get it either on the same day or after 24 hours. Once you get it, you can immediately start planning your U.S. travel.

Read More

Conclusion

If you were planning on applying for an A visa, it’s important to get the one that is suitable for your situation. For that, you should know enough about each visa, and if the A2 visa is the one you need, we hope we were able to help you prepare for the application. Make sure to get all your documents ready before you submit any form, and everything will proceed as intended.

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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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