The Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) oversees the development and enforcement of policies and guidance relating to the accreditation of foreign mission members, with the exception of bilateral Chiefs of Mission, Heads of Delegation, Charge d’affaires, and Deputy Chiefs of Mission and their dependents (which is handled by the Office of the Chief of Protocol). Further, OFM is the office of record for diplomatic and consular officers and other employees of foreign governments and international organizations in the United States and its territories.
The rules outlined in this section are intended to be consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) (22 U.S.C. § 288 et seq.), Foreign Missions Act (FMA) (22 U.S.C. § 4301-4316), Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), and other applicable treaties and U.S. laws.
The Department reserves the right to apply the provisions of this policy restrictively on a basis of reciprocity or to accord more favorable treatment than that which is set forth herein on the basis of existing and future bilateral arrangements.
Foreign missions are required to notify the Department promptly of the arrival/appointment and termination of duties of all personnel, including locally employed staff and part-time employees, and members of their families. Foreign missions must also promptly report to the Department any changes in the status of notified persons, such as admission to permanent resident status, changes in position, or changes in family (including the birth or adoption of a child; the arrival of a spouse, parent, or child from abroad; the departure from either the household or country, or death, of any family member; changes in marital status).
These reporting requirements enable the Department to maintain accurate records of foreign mission personnel in the United States and are essential to continued enjoyment by such individuals of the rights, privileges, and immunities which they may enjoy in the United States.
The notification of all employees, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, is also important to avoid running afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Section 3 of that Act (22 U.S.C. § 613) requires the recognition of every employee’s official status and knowledge of his/her activities by the Secretary of State in order to establish exemption from the requirement of registration as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice.
In accordance with VCDR Article 9, the acceptance of accreditation requests for personnel at foreign missions is solely within the discretion of the Department of State, subject to reciprocity and the criteria below. Requests for exceptions to these guidelines will be considered on the basis of reciprocity or in truly extenuating circumstances.
Missions and personnel should email questions to OFM-Accreditation@state.gov.
Please note that this information does not address rules specific to the notification and accreditation of bilateral chiefs of mission (including the agrément process), chargé d’affaires, deputy chiefs of mission, and their families.