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I have Dutch citizenship and I work for a German federal government agency. My employer has advised its employees that they must obtain an A-2 visa when travelling to the United States for work and must not travel on ESTA. The U.S. Department of State defines several categories for A-2, including:

Government official representing your government, coming to the United States based on written request of your country to perform official, government related duties.

Does the phrasing your government means the government I represent must match my nationality (country issuing passport), or can I travel on an A-2 visa on behalf of a government different from the one that issued my passport? The purpose of my travel is to attend a conference (with any regular employer I would have simply travelled on VWP/ESTA, but my employer has explicitly advised that we must not do so).

  • Sorry about the "travelled"->"traveled" change. I did it automatically, forgetting that travelled is absolutely correct in non-US English. – terdon Mar 28 at 14:36
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No, the A-2 visa is not limited to nationals of the sending state. The actual definition is found at 8 USC 1101(a)(15)(A)(ii):

(ii) upon a basis of reciprocity, other officials and employees [aside from "an ambassador, public minister, or career diplomatic or consular officer"] who have been accredited by a foreign government recognized de jure by the United States, who are accepted by the Secretary of State, and the members of their immediate families;

There is no mention of nationality here.

(Also, your question says that the State Department "defines several categories for A-2," but the State Department actually identifies that list as one of "examples." This implies that other examples are possible, or, to put it another way, that the list is not exclusive.)

Anyway, you shouldn't worry too much about this, because before you apply for the visa, you will have to be accredited to the US Secretary of State. I am pretty sure that the accreditation process includes mentioning your nationality. Once the State Department accepts your accreditation, you are virtually guaranteed to be approved for the visa. And the application is free of charge, of course.

Further relevant regulations are found at 22 CFR 41.21 through 41.27, concerning foreign government officials, and there is no requirement there for such officials to have the nationality of the sending state.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides in Article 8 that the receiving state (here, the US) can refuse permission for members of the diplomatic staff who do not have the nationality of the sending state (here Germany). But you do not seem to be a member of the diplomatic staff, since that comprises only "the members of the staff of the mission having diplomatic rank." If you were, you would be receiving an A-1 visa (as "an ambassador, public minister, or career diplomatic or consular officer").

In the terms of the convention, therefore, you seem to be a member of the administrative, technical, or service staff of the mission, and there is nothing to be found in the convention concerning limitations on nationality. Even if there were, the US could still choose to accredit you, of course.

Don't forget to go to the diplomats' line when you arrive; it's generally much faster than everything else, and you won't have to remind the immigration inspector not to take your fingerprints (the line is usually labeled for holders of A and G visas, or A, G, and NATO visas; the last time I saw one, it was also accepting active-duty US military traveling on official orders).

  • I ignored the first point because it relates to diplomats, which I am not, and I am not going to work in an embassy or consulate. I work for the German weather service and I will attend a one-week work meeting. Normally I would have travelled under the VWP with ESTA, but my employer explicitly said that as employees of the German federal government we should not. – gerrit Mar 12 at 22:19
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    @gerrit "Full-time employee assigned by that government" does not apply only to diplomats, nor at all to them, since diplomats need A-1 visas. But as you are not working in the embassy or consulate, that point indeed seems not to apply to you. The obvious course of action is to allow your employer to notify your travel to the State Department and get the A-2 visa. If the State Department does not accept your accreditation or otherwise decides that you do not qualify for A-2 status, then you can use the VWP. I also note that the list in your link is not exclusive; it is a list of examples. – phoog Mar 12 at 22:27
  • Not posting as an answer as I don't have references to back it up, but I work for a very similar employer in another european country and we have the same rule that employees going to the US for conferences etc should get an A2 visa. We employ people of all sorts of nationalities, there isn't any problem that they work for a different country's government. – ammonite Mar 29 at 16:53
  • @ammonite thanks for mentioning that. Can you shed any light on “Sponsoring Mission/Organization” on DS-160 for A-2 visa? – phoog Mar 29 at 17:24
  • @phoog I haven't actually been through the process myself, but my employer's giudance document says it should be the organisation you are visiting – ammonite Apr 2 at 9:17

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