The A and NATO visas are available to persons who hold official positions other than honorary official positions with international or government organizations. Applicants must possess travel documents and other necessary evidence indicating their intention of entering or transiting the U.S. Unlike other visa categories, the personal interview for A and NATO visa applications that are accredited to or citizens of the host country is waived. However, the consular may request an interview under certain circumstances. You do not have to pay a visa processing fee when applying for an A or NATO visa. The fee processing exemptions extend to A-3 and NATO-7 visa categories for the workers of principal A and NATO visa holders. The California Immigration Attorney can help know everything about the A and NATO visa, including the application requirements and procedures.

A-2 Visa and NATO Visa Explained

In addition to having visas for students and people in different professions, the United States also offers official and diplomatic visas. The A2 visas are available to foreign or alien government officials entering the U.S. to fulfill official duties. The NATO visas are available to officials in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who are visiting the U.S. for work duties. NATO has 30 member countries; officials and diplomatic from these countries can apply for the NATO visa.

NATO Visas

Commonly abbreviated as NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance. It has 30 European and North American member states. The organization is in charge of implementing the North Atlantic Treaty that came to effect in 1949.

The NATO visas allow international organizations' employees to enter the United States but are only available to the NATO workers. The visa applicants must be attending work duties for their employers. If an applicant wishes to come to the U.S. in another capacity other than official duty, they have to apply for a different visa. NATO has to show they are deploying their employee for work-related activities like workshops and meetings. With a NATO visa, you can come and remain in the United States. However, you can only stay for the length of your official duties. You cannot use your visa for different purposes other than work.

During your stay in the United States on a NATO visa, you cannot seek employment from other employers. You are also not permitted to enroll in a school or try to extend your stay in the United States. Even if you qualify under the Waiver Program, you must still apply for the NATO visa. NATO officials are not permitted to come to the United States for work duties through the Visa Waiver Program.

NATO Visa Types

There are seven categories of NATO visas:

  • NATO -1 nonimmigrant visa – This visa is available to permanent NATO members or members of NATO subsidiaries. It is also available to the employees of principal or primary NATO representatives
  • A NATO-2 nonimmigrant visa is available to representatives from NATO member states and NATO subsidiaries. This visa is also available to technical experts or advisors to NATO delegations
  • NATO-3 nonimmigrant visas are available to the relevant clerical employees accompanying the representatives from member states of NATO and NATO subsidiaries
  • A NATO-4 nonimmigrant visa is available to foreign nationals designated as NATO officials
  • A NATO-5 nonimmigrant visa is available to aliens designated as NATO experts
  • A NATO-6 nonimmigrant visa is available to members of NATO's civilian component
  • NATO-7 nonimmigrant visas are available to the personal employees or attendants of NATO-1 up to NATO-6 principal visa holders.

Requirements for Applying for the NATO Visa

For you to receive a NATO visa, you have to prove that NATO has sent you. You have to prove the work duties you will be involved in while staying in the United States. to prove that you are eligible for the visa. You are not permitted to acquire a NATO nonimmigrant visa if you are not attending official duties. Certain people are exempted from obtaining a NATO visa.

You do not have to apply for the visa if you are an armed forces employee and are attached to NATO related United States headquarters. You do not have to get a NATO if you are an armed forces personnel and are coming to the U.S. through a NATO Status of Forces agreement.

While traveling to the United States as an armed forces member, you will come to the U.S. through a naval vessel or a military aircraft. You have to show your military Identification Document at the entry point and other supporting documentation from NATO. Suppose you are traveling with your family members. In that case, they should have valid NATO visas to come to the U.S. Your dependents won't be permitted into the U.S. without a visa, even if you are a military officer.

Steps to Follow When Applying for a NATO Visa

Some of the steps that you need to follow when applying for a NATO visa are:

Filing Online DS-1648 or Form DS-160

Filing the application form is the first step when applying for the NATO visa. You can get the application form online and handle all the required questions. You have to provide your background details and also explain the aim of your travel. You should use the DS-160 application form if you apply for the NATO 1-6 visa for your first time. When you complete the online Form DS-160, ensure that you retain the form's confirmation page. Later, you will have to attach the confirmation page to your application documents. If you had a NATO visa before, you should use the DS-1648 visa application form.

Submit the Supporting Documents

You must attach the necessary supporting documents in addition to filling the online visa application form. The U.S. Embassy will use the supporting documents to determine your eligibility for the visa application. Some of the supporting documents that you have to file while applying for a NATO visa are:

  • A passport- the passport should remain valid for up to six months from your departure from the United States
  • The confirmation page from Form DS-160
  • A valid photo – the photo should meet the visa photo requirements
  • A diplomatic note outlining your roles in the United States - and confirming your status -the note should contain information such as your name, age or date of birth, travel dates, your job position, the definition of your duties, and the length of your time in the United States. The note should also contain similar information for the dependants who will be accompanying you to the U.S.

Depending on your position and your travel purpose, the U.S. Embassy may require further supporting documents for your visa application.

Attending the Visa Interview

The visa interview is not a requirement for the people applying for NATO 1-6 visa. However, persons applying for the NATO-7 visa must attend an interview before the visa award. The visa interview occurs at the United States Embassy, where the applicant is filing the visa application. The interviewing officer will interrogate the applicant and decide on the visa application.

Visa Application Fees

Most NATO visa candidates do not have to pay the visa fees. However, the U.S. Embassy has the mandate to decide if an applicant has to pay the visa fees.

Processing Time for NATO Visas

What is the processing time for NATO 1-6 visas? The NATO visas often have shorter processing times. In most cases, the visa officials decide after a few days. If the officials fail to decide within several days, they will decide within several weeks. The Embassy will notify you whether your visa application was successful or not. If the NATO visa is approved, the Embassy will post mail it to you. If you do not get visa approval, you will receive a notice to inform you about why the visa did not go through.

The Length of Stay in the United States

The NATO 1-6 nonimmigrant visas have no limit on the length of stay in the United States. Typically, the NATO visas are arguable for several years, though the NATO officials may renew the visas. The law allows you to remain in the United States for as long as you have duties there. However, your dependants or workers with NATO-7 visas will have a maximum length of stay of 3 years. They may request for a 2-year extension of their length of stay when three years end. However, NATO-7 visa holders cannot renew their visas while in the United States. First, they will have to back countries of origin and submit a fresh application for a visa renewal.

Persons who hold the NATO-7 are only permitted to renew their nonimmigrant visas if they continue to serve the same employer. Upon changing the employer, they have to apply for new NATO-7 visas. If you hold a NATO 1-6 visa and cease being a NATO official, you will automatically lose your status in the United States. You will have to return to your home country or apply for a change in your status.

NATO Visa and Your Family

Can you bring your family to the United States if you hold a NATO visa? You can only bring your direct family members to the U.S. Persons who qualify as direct family members include:

  • Your spouse with whom you share a common household
  • Your unmarried sons and daughters who live in your household - it is worth noting that your sons and daughters should be less than 21 years. However, if the children are still in post-secondary institutions, they may accompany you as long as they are below 23 years.

What happens if your child does not qualify to accompany you to the U.S., depending on the requirements outlined above? In this case, they may be eligible if:

  • They will stay in a similar household as you once
  • They do not belong to another household
  • NATO assures that they qualify as your direct family members and have provided the necessary supporting documentation.

People related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption can qualify for a visa as long as they meet the conditions outlined above.

While in the United States., your direct family members may be allowed to seek employment. However, they must first apply for employment authorization. The primary NATO visa holder has to file the Form I-566 to the Department of State on behalf of their dependents.

NATO Visa and Your Personal Employees

The NATO-7 visa allows your employees to accompany you to the United States. For your employees to obtain the NATO-7 visa, they must submit the supporting documents to the U.S. Embassy through you. Some of the information that may be required include:

  • A proof or confirmation that the employee can communicate in English or another language understood by their employer
  • An employment contract should outline important information like the workers' duties and the number of hours they will work per day. The supporting documents should also outline the wage the worker will earn. The wage must be above the minimum wages in the United States. The documents should outline the means of remitting the salary to the worker. Employees have to save all their compensation records for up to three years from the end of the employment contract. Other necessary information includes the travel of the worker to the U.S. and back to their homes.

The law does not require your employee to stay in your residence unless during working hours. You should not be in possession of your personal employee's passport. During their stay in the United States, your employee should not seek alternative employment.

NATO Visa and Green card

A NATO visa immigrant and their dependents may qualify to acquire a Green Card as long as they fulfill the below requirements:

  • A retired officer and have been in the United States for more than 50% of the last seven years before applying for a Green Card. Before retiring, you should have stayed in the United States for more than fifteen years. You should have file Form I-360 for a special immigration status six months after your retirement.
  • You are a deceased NATO officer's spouse and have been in the United States for 50% of the last seven years before applying for a Green Card. You should have stayed in the United States for a minimum of fifteen years before your spouse's death. You should also have filed Form I-360, the special immigration status, six since your spouse's death
  • You are an unmarried child or a current or a former NATO official, and you have been in the United States for 50% of the past seven years before applying for a Green card. You should have stayed in the United States for a minimum of 7 years between the ages of 5 and 21 years. You should have sought a status adjustment before reaching 25 years.

A 2 Visa Guide

The A2 visa is available to government officials, employees, families, and technical and support staff. Military officers are also eligible for the A2 visas as long as they travel for a purpose not related to NATO. The period of stay for an A2 visa is five years, and the visa has no renewal.

Most people do not understand the difference between the A1 and the A2 visas. The A1 visa is available to ambassadors, consular officers, diplomats, ministers, and their direct family members. However, these government officials do not qualify for the A1 visa if they travel for other reasons other than official duties. However, ahead of state or head of government has to acquire the A1 visa regardless of travel reason.

A1 visa holders enjoy certain privileges. For instance, they cannot face trial for any crime in the United States. They also have a right to travel between the United States and other countries as many times as they desire.

However, the A2 visa holders will have a limited stay of 5 years in the United States. The A2 visa is only available to accredited government officials who are representing their government in another country.

Qualifying for the A2 Visa

You may qualify for the A2 visa if you are:

  • You are a foreign national military but have been assigned to a United States military base, a foreign consulate, or Embassy for a limited period. Any person traveling under orders from NATO does not qualify for the A2 visa.
  • A foreign official or employee of a foreign government, coming into the U.S. for work-related reasons- You should have a written request from the government, and your aim should be to perform various duties on behalf of the government.
  • The immediate family of the principal A2 visa holder

Documents Required While Applying for the A2 Visa

When you are planning to apply for the A2 visa, you have to prepare several documents. You should then send the documents to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. The documents required while applying for the A2 visa are:


You should ensure that you have a valid passport, which will still be valid six months after your allowable stay in the United States.

If another person is accompanying you to the U.S., they will have to file their separate visa application.

Diplomatic Note

A diplomatic note is a written document or confirmation from the government of your country. The diplomatic note should outline the aim of your travel to the United States. The diplomatic note should contain specific information in it provided by the government that sends it.

The note should contain your name, your date of birth, travel date, the aim of travel, and the length of stay in the United States. The note should also contain information regarding the place of assignment and a short description of your duties. If you are traveling with your dependents, the diplomatic note should contain information about the dependents' names, dates of birth, and relationship with you.

Confirmation Page

You also have to provide a confirmation page from the visa application form DS-160. This requirement applies for people who apply for the A2 visa outside the United States

Photo Upload

You have to upload a photo while applying for the A2 visa. You should upload the photo when filling the online application form DS-160. If the photo upload is not successful, you have to print a hard copy of the photo and bring it to the visa interview. It is worth noting that the photo must comply with the photograph requirements for the visa application.

When other family members are applying separately from the principal applicant, they must provide a copy of I-94 and visa for the principal applicant.

The A2 Visa Application Process

The process of applying for an A2 visa is relatively simple. The steps that you will have to follow when applying are:

  • Complete the online application form DS-160 and wait for it to be approved. After receiving the approval, you should forward it to the USCIS, who will issue you with the visa code.
  • During the application process, you should ensure that you have all the documents ready to submit them to the U.S. Embassy or the USCIS. The A2 visas do not involve an interview

Visa Application Fees

You do not have to pay application fees when applying for the A2 visa. A2 visa applicants are exempt from paying the visa application fees. After submitting the A2 visa application, you do have to wait long for the visa approval. A2 visas have shorter visa processing periods. After the approval of your A2 visa, you can start planning your travel to the United States.

Find a California Immigration Attorney Near Me

If you are planning to come to the U.S., it is essential to understand the different visas available. You should know the ideal visa type depending on your travel purpose and background. The California Immigration Attorney can guide you through the visa options and help you choose the applicable visa. We will help you get ready and gather all the necessary supporting documents. We will also guide you on the visa application requirements for your dependents and immediate employees. Contact us at 424-789-8809 and speak to one of our attorneys.