Besides having nonimmigrant visas for people of different professions and students, the U.S also has diplomatic and official visas. Amongst these are three categories:
- A visas for foreign government officials visiting the U.S on official duties;
- G visas for officials and employees of international organizations visiting for official duties;
- NATO visas for officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization visiting for official duties.
This article will go through the international organizations visas (G visas) and NATO visas.
What is a G Visa and a NATO Visa?
G visas are visas which allow employees of international organizations to enter the US. NATO visas serve the same purpose, but they are only for NATO employees. The officials from international organizations and NATO must be on official duties from their employers. Otherwise, if they want to enter the U.S on any other capacity, they must get different visas. If they are coming for tourism, then the tourism visas are more appropriate.
The international organization which the employee works for or NATO must prove that they are sending the person for working activities such as meetings or workshops.
With any G visa or NATO visa, the employee can enter and stay in the U.S. They must stay only for the duration of the official activities. That is why, most often, the G visas and NATO visas are only for the period of time that the person has duties in the U.S. The employee cannot use this visa for other purposes than their work.
During the time they are in the U.S, the official cannot work for any other employer. They are not allowed to enroll in a university or attempt to overstay their visa. Additionally, if the person qualifies under the Visa Waiver Program, they must still apply for the G visa or NATO visa. Officials of international organizations or NATO are not allowed to enter the U.S for official duties with the Visa Waiver Program.
What are the Types of G Visas?
Under the U.S rules, there are 5 types of G visas as follows:
- G-1 visa for permanent mission members of a recognized government who work for an international organization and their dependents;
- G-2 visa for representatives of a recognized government travelling to the U.S for meetings of an international organization and their dependents;
- G-3 visa for representatives of a non-recognized or non-member government and their dependents;
- G-4 visa for individuals travelling to the U.S to be appointed to an international organization including the United Nations, and their dependents;
- G-5 visa for personal employees or domestic workers of G-1 to G-4 visa holders.
What are the Types of NATO Visas?
There are 7 types of NATO visas, as follows:
- NATO-1 visa for permanent members of NATO or any of its subsidiaries, or for staff members of principal NATO representatives;
- NATO-2 visa for representatives of members states of NATO or any of its subsidiaries, or advisors/technical experts to a NATO delegation;
- NATO-3 visa for a member of the official clerical staff accompanying representatives of member states to NATO or any of its subsidiaries;
- NATO-4 visa for foreign nationals classified as NATO officials;
- NATO-5 visa for foreign nationals classified as NATO experts;
- NATO-6 visa for members of a civilian component of NATO;
- NATO-7 visa for attendants or personal employees of NATO-1 to NATO-6 visas.
What are the Requirements of G Visas and NATO Visas?
To receive any of the G visas or NATO visas, officials must prove that they have been sent by their corresponding international organizations or NATO. They must present evidence of the duties they will have while in the U.S. to prove eligibility for the visas.
The applicants are not allowed in any circumstances to get a G or NATO visa if they are not on official duties.
Those who are applying for G visas must prove that the international organization is recognized by the U.S government and president.
Some officials are exempt from having to get a NATO visa. This is applicable only if the person travelling belongs to the armed forces personnel and is:
- Attached to the NATO Allied Headquarters in the U.S. and is on official duties;
- Entering the U.S under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement
If you are travelling as armed forces personnel, you are generally required to enter the U.S on a military aircraft or a naval vessel. At the point of entry, you must present your military ID and supporting documents from NATO. If you have family travelling with you, they must have a valid NATO visa or they will not be allowed to enter the U.S.
How to Apply for a G Visa or a NATO Visa?
The steps to apply for the G visas or NATO visas are similar and are as follows.
File Form DS-160 or Form DS-1648
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the main application form for visas in the U.S. You can access it online and answer the questions it has. The form mostly asks for background information and the purpose of travel. You must use Form DS-160 only if you are applying for a G-1 to G-4 visa or NATO-1 to NATO-6 visa for the first time.
After you complete Form DS-160 online, save the confirmation page that it gives you. You will need the page later to attach it to your documents.
Alternatively, if you have held a G-1 to G-4 or NATO-1 to NATO-6 visa before, use Form DS-1648, Online Application for A, G, and NATO Visas.
Submit supporting documents
In addition to the main application forms, you must also attach supporting documents. They will be used by the U.S Embassy to evaluate your application and eligibility of the visa. Prepare a file with these documents:
- Passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after your return from the U.S.;
- Form DS-160 confirmation page;
- Photos which meet the Photograph Requirements;
- Diplomatic note from the international organization or NATO confirming your status and explaining your duties in the U.S. The letter must include:
- The employee name, date of birth, job title, the name of the international organization the person will be working for, description of duties, travel dates, and length of stay in the U.S.;
- The same information of the dependents of the employee if they are accompanying him or her.
The U.S Embassy might require additional documents based on the person’s position and purpose of visit to the U.S.
The U.S does not require a visa interview for those applying for a G-1 to G-4 or NATO-1 to NATO-6 visa. Only those who are applying for a G-5 or NATO-7 visa will have to attend a visa interview at the U.S Embassy where they are applying. The interviewer will ask for application information and will then make a decision regarding the visa.
What are the Fees for G Visas and NATO Visas?
Most G visa or NATO visa applicants are exempt from visa application fees. The U.S Embassy though decides on a case-by-case basis whether someone should pay the fees or not.
How Long is the G Visa and NATO Visa Processing Time?
The G visas and NATO visas have quick processing times. If the officials do not make a decision within a few days, they will do so within a few weeks. The U.S Embassy will send you a notice on whether you got the visa or not.
If you got an approval, they will mail your passport back within a few days or you can go and pick it up. If you did not get an approval, the notice will let you know why your visa was denied.
How Long are G Visas and NATO Visas Valid For?
The G-1 to G-4 and NATO-1 to NATO-6 visas do not have a time limit. They are issued for a few years, but the officials can renew them within the U.S. The officials are allowed to stay in the U.S for as long as they have duties inside the country.
Those who have G-5 or NATO-7 visas though have a validity of up to 3 years. After 3 years, they can request visa extensions for additional 2 year increments. But, those who have these visas cannot renew them while in the U.S. They must return to their home countries and apply for renewal from there.
Those with a G-5 or NATO-7 visa are only allowed to renew their visas if they will work for the same employer. If they change their employer, then they must apply from the beginning for new visas.
If at any point, a person who has G or NATO visa is not an official of international organizations or NATO, then they lose their status in the U.S. They must apply for a different type of visa to change their status or return to their home countries.
Can I Bring my Family to the U.S With a G or NATO Visa?
Officials with G or NATO visas can bring their dependents to the U.S with them. They can only bring their immediate family members though. Immediate family members are:
- The spouse of the primary visa holder who will live in the same household;
- Any unmarried legal sons or daughters of the primary visa holder who will live in the same household if:
- They are under 21 years old;
- Under 23 years old and full time students at post-secondary educational institutions.
If the son or daughter of the primary visa holder does not qualify based on the conditions above, they can still get a visa if:
- They will live in the same household as the primary visa holder;
- They are not part of another household;
- The international organization or NATO guarantees that the person qualifies as an immediate family member through supporting documents.
People who are related to the primary visa holder by blood, adoption, or marriage can also get a visa if they fulfill the conditions above.
The immediate family members of G-1 to G-4 or NATO-1 to NATO-6 visa holders may be allowed to work in the U.S. They must apply for an employment authorization by filing Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request – A, G, or NATO Dependent Employment Authorization. The form must be filed to the Department of State by the international organization that the primary visa holder is working for or NATO.
Can I Bring my Personal Employees With a G or NATO Visa?
As explained above, the G-5 and NATO-7 visas are for personnel or domestic employees of the G-1 to G-4 and NATO-1 to NATO-7 officials. They can get these visas through supporting documents that their employers provide. They must submit to the U.S Embassy the following documents:
- Proof that they can speak English or a language that their employer understands;
- Employment contract which must include these sections:
- Description of the duties the employee will perform;
- The hours of work;
- The hourly wage that the employee will be paid which must be higher than the minimum wage specified in the U.S Federal and State law;
- The conditions for any overtime work;
- The way the salary will be paid to the employee in a U.S bank account and the request that the employee save all payment records for 3 years after their employment ends;
- The transportation of the employee to and from the U.S.
- Other terms such as:
- The employee’s passport must not be in the possession of the employer;
- The employee is not required to stay in the employer’s residence except during working hours;
- The employee must not work for any other employer during their time in the U.S.
- Other conditions as per U.S laws
Can I Get a Green Card With a G Visa or a NATO Visa?
The primary G or NATO visa holder and their dependents may be eligible to get a Green Card if they fulfill any of the following conditions:
- If you are a retired officer or employee of an international organization who has been in the U.S for at least 50% of the last 7 years before you applied for a Green Card. Also you must have lived in the U.S for at least 15 years before you retired and you have filed for special immigration status (Form I-360) at least 6 months after retirement.
- If you are the spouse of a deceased officer or employee of an international organization who has been present in the U.S for at least 50% of the last 7 years before you applied for a Green Card. Also you must have lived in the U.S for at least 15 years before the death of your spouse and you have filed for special immigration status (Form I-360) at least 6 months after the death of your spouse.
- If you are an unmarried son or daughter of a current or former officer or employee of an international organization who has been present in the U.S for at least 50% of the last 7 years before you applied for a Green Card. Also you must have lived in the U.S for at least 7 years between ages 5 and 21 and you have filed for adjustment of status before or on your 25th