To meet the projected growth in visa demand, the U.S. Department of State will supplement its current Limited Non-Career Appointments (LNA) Consular Adjudicator hiring program with a new hiring program for qualified Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) from all agencies under Chief of Mission authority.
The Consular Affairs-Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) Program, coordinated by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, will provide opportunities for AEFMs who are at least 21 years of age to fill entry-level Consular positions at selected posts. Candidates must successfully pass the current Board of Examiners (BEX) assessment process used to qualify for a Consular position. Once certified, AEFMs can then apply for CA positions on a post-by-post basis. For questions, email AEFM-CA@state.gov.
- After passing the written and oral assessments and obtaining a Top Secret security clearance, AEFMs will be placed on a hiring register managed by Consular Affairs.
- Certification does not expire; there is no time limit for AEFMs to remain on the list of qualified candidates.
- AEFMs do not need to know the direct hire spouses’ onward assignments in order to apply for the program.
- Consular Affairs will work to coordinate and select AEFMs for Consular positions based on the direct hire spouses’ assignments.
- Consular Affairs will fund language and consular training, if required.
- Vacancy Announcement
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Overseas Consular Opportunities for Eligible Family Members (April 19, 2017) – Hosted by representatives from the Family Liaison Office, Consular Affairs, Human Resources, and the Foreign Service Institute, the webinar covered the Consular Affairs-Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) and the Consular Fellows programs. Learn about latest enrollment numbers, application procedures, required training, FSI consular training opportunities, and the different types of consular positions at posts.
CA-AEFM Consular Program FAQs
The Consular Affairs – Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) Adjudicator program provides opportunities for AEFMs who are at least 21 years of age to fill entry-level Consular Adjudicator (CA) positions at select posts. Below is a list of most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- How do I apply?
- What documents do I need to submit with my application?
- What is the application deadline?
- What is the vacancy announcement number?
- The DS-1950 Application for Employment does not allow sufficient space to include all of my professional experience information. How do I ensure that all of my professional experience is appropriately captured in the application form?
- The DS-1950 (page 1) has the section “Describe your duties and accomplishments.” I have written a long paragraph that fills the allotted space. When I print the form, only half of what I typed is printed and the other half is missing. What should I do?
- Page one, block 24, indicates that I should “Sign In Ink,” whereas the section “Authorization to Furnish Information” at the bottom of page three does not specify if I should sign in ink or electronically. What do you prefer for page three?
- What is the minimum education requirement to apply for the program?
- I have earned several degrees. Do I need to submit them all? Do I need a transcript copy for each one of them?
- I was educated overseas and graduated from a foreign institution. Do I need to get my foreign diploma(s) or degree(s) accredited?
Board of Examinars (BEX) Exam
- How do I prepare for the Board of Examiners (BEX) assessment?
- How do I register for the CA-AEFM online test, administered through BEX?
- How long do I have to complete the online portion of the exam?
- How often does BEX schedule the online test and Oral Assessments?
- How many times can I take the online test?
- I passed the online test. Now what?
- I passed the FS Oral Assessment and/or the CA/LNA exam and am on the register. Do I also have to pass the CA-AEFM exam?
- I passed the PC530 pre-test and already took ConGen (PC530). Can CA waive the exam requirements and directly place me on the roster as a CA-AEFM?
- Why is the CA-AEFM oral exam only offered in Washington, DC? I am stationed overseas, can I take it via DVC?
- I passed the oral assessment and am on the register. Who is my HR point of contact until I become a fully certified CA-AEFM?
Finding a Position
- Can CA provide an estimate of the BEX exam passing rate for family members? How many CA-AEFMs are now fully certified and how many are already working at post?
- How long does it take to complete certification as a CA-AEFM from the time an applicant passes the oral assessment to the time CA identifies a position at the sponsor’s overseas post?
- I’m a fully certified CA-AEFM, how do I get hired?
- I am a certified CA-AEFM. My spouse is bidding on an assignment overseas. How can I maximize my chance of being “matched” with a Consular position at post? Can my employee sponsor’s CDO speak to my CDO to make sure we are treated like a tandem couple?
- I am a fully certified CA-AEFM. What are my chances of being assigned to a Consular position overseas?
- How are candidates prioritized for placement into Consular positions?
- Will I increase my chances of being “matched” with my spouse if we bid on large posts?
- Can I do a temporary duty (TDY) mission at a post other than where my spouse is assigned? Can I stay at the post where I am working as a CA-AEFM after my spouse departs?
- Are there any language requirements for a CA-AEFM position?
- Are CA-AEFMs considered tandems for bidding purposes?
- Are there part-time positions as a CA-AEFM?
- Which allowances and benefits do CA-AEFMs receive?
- Which allowances and benefits do CA-AEFMs not receive?
See the vacancy announcement for the CA-AEFM Consular Program.
The required documents are the DS-1950 application form and a copy of your diploma and/or transcripts or degrees (whichever is highest) proving that you have earned at least a high school diploma. You must also provide evidence that you are a U.S. citizen (sending a copy of your passport is best), and the full name and current assignment of your direct hire spouse. Please do not submit any other documentation apart from what is listed in the vacancy announcement.
There is no application deadline for the CA-AEFM Consular program at this time.
There is no vacancy announcement number for this program.
5. The DS-1950 Application for Employment does not allow sufficient space to include all of my professional experience information. How do I ensure that all of my professional experience is appropriately captured in the application form?
Carefully read the instructions on the form. If your professional experience requires additional work blocks than are provided on pages two and three, you may print as many copies of page two of the “Application For Employment” that are needed (but only one page three). Make sure you include your complete name and social security number on the top of each page of the application. Once completed, print out the entire application, sign the first page, and scan them as a compressed PDF.
6. The DS-1950 (page 1) has the section “Describe your duties and accomplishments.” I have written a long paragraph that fills the allotted space. When I print the form, only half of what I typed is printed and the other half is missing. What should I do?
Handwrite “See attached page” in the box where you want to provide additional information. Then attach a signed word document with the information that you want to include, being sure to include your complete name, social security number, date, and the position for which you are applying (CA-AEFM) and scan it with the rest of the application to complete the application package.
7. Page one, block 24, indicates that I should “Sign In Ink,” whereas the section “Authorization to Furnish Information” at the bottom of page three does not specify if I should sign in ink or electronically. What do you prefer for page three?
Print page one and sign in ink, as instructed. If your work experience can be contained within these three pages, type your signature electronically at the bottom of page three. However, if you have additional content that exceeds the allocated space print out additional pages and write “See attached page.” Finally, sign page three and any subsequent attached pages and scan all documents as one complete package.
Please provide a copy of at least a high school diploma (with an unofficial copy of your transcript) to meet the minimum education level requirement.
Please note that the undergraduate degree requirement was discontinued on April 12, 2017. A copy of your high school diploma is required at the minimum. If you have earned additional degrees (undergraduate or graduate), please submit a copy of your highest degree in lieu of your high school diploma.
If you were educated overseas, please submit a copy of your high school diploma with its transcript (an unofficial copy is acceptable) at the minimum. You do not need to have your high school degree accredited.
In lieu of your high school diploma, you may submit a copy of your undergraduate degree (such as a Bachelor’s) or a graduate degree (such as a Master’s or a PhD), whichever is the highest. OPM defines accredited education as education above the high school level. You need to have your foreign degree(s) accredited if they are of a higher level than your high school diploma. Go to the Credentialing of Foreign Degrees for a United States Government Application webpage for more information.
Board of Examiners (BEX) Exam
Check out the BEX study guide. The first step is an online test that has four components: General Knowledge, English Language Expression, Situational Judgment, and Understanding Regulations (see the vacancy announcement for more information).
Once you submit your application to AEFM-CA@state.gov you will receive confirmation that you have the minimum qualifications to continue with the process. CA will ask you for the name and Department of State email address of your proctor for the online test. Once you have provided the proctor information, CA will send your application and proctor information to the BEX office and the BEX scheduler will contact your proctor (and you) directly to arrange the online test. BEX has hundreds of CA-AEFM applicants to schedule and it may take some time before you are contacted. If you wish to complete the online assessment in Washington DC, list BEX as your proctor.
Once BEX contacts you and the proctor, you have one month to complete the exam.
BEX schedules both of these tests multiple times a week on a rolling basis.
If you fail the online test, you must wait 12 months from the date that BEX received your application before you can take it again.
BEX will send you information on how to schedule the Oral Assessment. You will have 12 months to schedule the Oral Assessment in Washington, DC from the time that you pass the online test. There is no funding available for travel to Washington, DC to take the Oral Assessment.
No, if you are currently on the FS generalist or CA/LNA register, you are exempt from the CA-AEFM exam and can be added to the register. BEX will verify that you are on the generalist register and will provide further instructions. If you have not passed the FS Oral Assessment, but have passed the online portion of the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), you will need to take the online portion of the CA-AEFM exam.
No, you must still apply for the CA-AEFM program by submitting an application. Successfully completing PC530 does not take the place of exams required to become certified as a CA-AEFM. The PC530 pre-test is required for family members who want to enroll in the PC530 training course.
All CA-AEFM candidates must fill out the application for the program. If you have taken a written exam and an oral assessment with the Board of Examiners (BEX), and as a result of passing these exams, you are currently on the Foreign Service Generalist register, the Civil Service LNA Overseas register, or the Critical Language Skills LNA Program for Non-State Employees register, you can waive the CA-AEFM exams. All other applicants need to successfully pass both the written and oral CA-AEFM assessments.
The Board of Examiners has examined the possibility of conducting oral assessments remotely by DVC and concluded that, for a number of reasons, it is not feasible to do so. These reasons include the difficulty of ensuring the integrity and safety of sensitive testing materials, the likelihood that technical problems could interfere with the testing process, the difficulty of assessing key dimensions of the assessment process (e.g., composure, oral communications) when filtered through technology, and the inconsistency such an option would introduce between in-person and remote tests, as well as between types of Foreign Service entry processes.
Your HR point of contact until you reach full certification is Registrar@state.gov. Please keep in mind that the process to reach full certification takes between 6-12 months so you will need to be patient. Once you are fully certified, your point of contact is the CA-AEFM Coordinator, AEFM-CA@state.gov. The CA-AEFM coordinator cannot discuss potential assignments or hiring until you receive full certification.
- PN150 LNA Orientation Class (two weeks)
- PC530 Basic Consular Course (ConGen) (six weeks)
- MQ911 Security Overseas Seminar (two days) – required only once in a career
- FACT (if you haven’t taken FACT within the past 5 years) – FACT is included on the employee-sponsor’s PCS orders and the CA-AEFM should take it at the same time as the sponsor.
- Language Training (depending on the position’s language designation) – several weeks to several months. Note that CA-AEFMs are eligible for language training only if your spouse is also assigned to language training at FSI.
Training is mandatory and must be attended in full. If a position is language-designated, the CA-AEFM must reach the required level. CA-AEFMs fill entry level positions in the Consular Section on a full-time basis and therefore must be trained to the same level as any other Consular Officer. A current FSI language score, or valid ConGen certification (i.e., having taken ConGen or adjudicated within the past 5 years) may replace some training.
Finding a Position
Family members of U.S. direct hire employees serving at an embassy or consulate overseas pass the CA-AEFM written and oral assessments at a higher than average pass rate. There are approximately 100 CA-AEFMs working at post or at FSI in training, and another 135 fully certified CA-AEFMs who are awaiting possible placement at their sponsor’s post during the next bid cycle. These numbers continue to grow as more EFMs learn about the program. During bidding season, certified CA-AEFMs should reach out to AEFM-CA@state.gov to see if Entry Level Assignments (HR/CDA/EL) can match you with a potential assignment.
The length of the process depends on each applicant’s personal circumstances and may last from a couple of months to more than one year. After BEX confirms the applicant has passed the oral exam, a Diplomatic Security (DS) representative will meet with the applicant at BEX to start the clearance process the same day. The DS investigation depends on many factors beyond CA’s control and the time varies for each one to be completed. The applicant also needs to pass the suitability review and have a valid medical clearance for the onward post. Once these steps are complete and the CA-AEFM is fully certified, the CA-AEFM coordinator in HR/CDA/EL (Human Resources/Career Development and Assignments/Entry Level) and the CA-AEFM candidate discuss the sponsoring employee’s current tour of duty and follow-on assignment (if known) to identify a suitable position for the CA-AEFM.
HR/CDA/EL makes final assignment decisions for fully certified CA-AEFMs. Consular Affairs and the Entry-Level Assignments Division take into account the needs of the service, available funding, timing of the sponsor’s tour of duty, the candidate’s training history, language proficiency, and availability to take additional training at FSI, if required.
If all of the above requirements are met, you will receive an offer from the Registrar’s office approximately 6-8 weeks before the LNA orientation start date. Orientations are typically held three times per year from February to August.
4. I am a certified CA-AEFM. My spouse is bidding on an assignment overseas. How can I maximize my chance of being “matched” with a Consular position at post? Can my employee sponsor’s CDO speak to my CDO to make sure we are treated like a tandem couple?
CA-AEFMs are hired on a Family Member Appointment (FMA). You will be offered a position only after your employee/sponsor receives an assignment. CA will give priority to FSOs for Consular positions and you will be appointed only if CA has a need for an additional certified CA-AEFM at that same post. The CA-AEFM’s assignment is derived from your spouse. The CA-AEFM coordinator works with you to identify a Consular position at your sponsor’s post. The employee’s CDO is welcome to discuss possible assignments with the CA-AEFM coordinator.
CA cannot guarantee a Consular position overseas when you are a fully certified CA-AEFM, but CA will do its best to match you with a job during the tour of duty of your sponsoring employee. This is a multi-step process. First, CA consults with post to ensure they have a need and the space for an additional person in the Consular section and to identify the level of language training the CA-AEFM requires to be effective. Then, CA has to balance this required training with the employee’s assignment, taking into account any family considerations.
Consular positions overseas are filled by a group of people made up of Entry Level Officers and Limited Non-Career Appointments (LNAs). The LNA group includes Civil Service, Consular Fellows (who are hired either to fill a particular language-based vacancy announcement or who are current register candidates) and CA-AEFMs. Like the Civil Service candidates, CA-AEFMs know in advance of their position placement prior to being on boarded as a CA-AEFM. The Consular Fellows bid on available assignments during orientation.
Yes. CA will be able to place you more easily at your spouse’s post if you consider assignments with a large Consular section because there is a statistically higher chance of a position being available.
CA-AEFMs may TDY as long as the sponsor is currently permanently assigned and working at an overseas post. However, note the following:
- Before going TDY, we encourage CA-AEFMs to complete 52 weeks at post to be eligible for Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE), as service during a long-term TDY will not count toward NCE eligibility.
- CA-AEFMs may never TDY if their spouse is assigned to Washington, because they must resign their appointment if their sponsor is no longer assigned overseas.
- CA-AEFMs cannot adjudicate domestically (e.g. TDY from post to do domestic passport adjudications).
- CA-AEFMs may not arrive at post before their sponsoring employee, or depart post after their sponsor has left. If your sponsoring employee goes on a TDY to another post, you may stay at the original post of assignment to work in the Consular position as long as the host government, the Mission, CA, and HR/CDA agree.
Most overseas consular adjudicator positions require you to speak the local language at a high level of proficiency. If an overseas position is language-designated, the CA-AEFM must: 1) have a current FSI valid score in that language, or 2) be enrolled, or will be enrolled in language training to reach the language designation along with their spouse/sponsor at FSI.
CA-AEFMs who are paneled to a language designated position and are in language training in Washington, D.C. on their sponsor’s orders receive their salary. However, Consular Affairs will not fund independent TDY orders for a CA-AEFM to attend language training. Therefore, the CA-AEFM should work closely with the Coordinator to align language training with their sponsor’s training period in Washington, D.C.
Furthermore, CA-AEFMs are not eligible to participate in long term In-Country Language Training in order to reach the language designation because this program is available only to tenured, mid- and senior level FS employees.
A CA-AEFM is not considered part of a tandem for bidding purposes because CA-AEFMs serve on family member limited non-career appointments. A “tandem couple” is a career or career candidate Foreign Service employee whose spouse or same sex domestic partner (as defined in 3 FAM 1612) is a career or career candidate Foreign Service employee of one of the foreign affairs agencies.
No, a CA-AEFM is a full-time employee and must be either working at post, in required training in Washington, D.C., or on approved leave status (such as annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay).
CA-AEFMS qualify for the following allowances and benefits as applicable:
- Language Incentive Pay
- Danger Pay
- Federal Employee Health Benefits, Long-Term Care, and Flexible Spending Accounts –
- Annual Leave
- Sick Leave
- Shared Voluntary Leave
- Premium Compensation
- Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP )
- Non-Competitive Eligibility under Executive Order 12721
CA-AEFMs are hired on family member limited non-career appointments, and are subject to the same regulations as all other EFMs on family member appointments.
As such, CA-AEFMs are not entitled to receive in their own right as employees, any allowances, differentials, or other benefits (e.g., including but not limited to such allowances, differentials, and benefits as temporary lodging, living quarters, transfer, home service transfer, education, separate maintenance allowances, post allowance, post differential, advances of pay, home leave, and rest and recreation) unless specifically authorized in 3 FAM 8210, Family Member Appointments, or unless required by law.