Often, diplomats and other international officials wish to travel to the United States for work. The purpose of their business can encompass a wide range of tasks—from a brief visit for a meeting to a longer stay to oversee a project or work with the U.S. government. These individuals must secure a nonimmigrant visa to gain entry into the country. A nonimmigrant visa is a visa issued by the U.S. to those who live permanently in another country but want to come to the U.S. temporarily. For many diplomats and foreign officials, one of the first four G visas is required. Here, we share information about the different types of G visas for international employees and their families to help you understand your options and decide what would best fit your needs.
G Visas for International Officials and Family Members
All foreign officials who travel to the U.S. on business must obtain a diplomatic visa. They may not use another visa program, such as a tourist visa or a visa waiver, to obtain entry. In 2015, the U.S. government issued nearly 44,000 G visas in the first four categories. Those categories are:
- G-1 – Permanent mission members of a recognized government to a designated international organization and their immediate family members.
- G-2 – Representatives of a recognized government traveling temporarily to the United States to attend meetings of a designated international organization and their immediate family members.
- G-3 – Representatives of non-recognized or non-member governments and their immediate family members.
- G-4 – Individuals coming to the United States to take up an appointment at a designated international organization, including the United Nations, and their immediate family members. Nearly half of the issued G visas were issued as G-4 visas.
All the visas in the G category allow immediate family members to accompany the primary applicant into the U.S. The family members may also attend school or seek employment during their stay after obtaining employment authorization.
Some Foreign Officials Do Not Qualify for a G Visa
While the G visas cover many foreign officials, there are those who must secure a different type of visa. Those working with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should seek a specific NATO visa. Additionally, heads of states are required to obtain an A visa. Finally, if an international employee wishes to visit the U.S. outside of his or her official duties, a G visa would not be appropriate. In those cases, they should apply to the travel category that aligns with the purpose for the travel, such as tourism.
Additional Stipulations of G Visas 1-4
There are some additional stipulations imposed by the U.S. government on those who are issued a G visa 1-4. First, the visa holder is only permitted to work for the organization with which you are registered. You may not seek additional employment, or should the nature of your job change during the stay, you would be required to notify the government. Also, while a G visa holder does not have to state a permanent foreign address, once the visa expires, the holder has 30 days to leave the country. Remaining in the U.S. beyond 30 days would put the visa holder in illegal status.
Determining If You Qualify for a G Visa 1-4
To be certain that you are applying for the appropriate visa, it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Tucker, Nong & Associates, our skilled legal team has helped many other international officials secure the correct credentials and we know how to navigate the often confusing system. In general, however, you can apply for a G visa if you are traveling to the U.S. on business with a certified organization. The government must approve an international organization before its employees and officials can apply for a G visa. For a complete list of the approved entities, you can visit the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual and Handbook.
If you need to visit or stay in the U.S. to complete work with an international organization, the experienced attorneys at Tucker, Nong & Associates may be able to help. Our skilled legal team can help you prepare your application and navigate the process to ensure that you can gain entry into the country and perform your duties. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member of our team who can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.