The Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) provides appointment eligible spouses with employment opportunities in key positions at missions abroad (see EPAP Position Descriptions). As a part of overseas family member employment, EPAP is available exclusively to U.S. citizen spouses (see Eligibility), and represents a limited number of positions inside missions worldwide. It is important to note that a current EPAP position at post is not a guarantee of that position continuing in the future. The Family Member Employment Statistics webpage shows the number of adult family members employed inside a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas, including EPAP.
Most EPAP positions are funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM). Others are funded by the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) and the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), and some positions are funded by specific posts overseas. While funding sources may vary, the application process remains the same. EPAP positions are assigned and administered by the appropriate regional or functional bureaus. EPAP position recruitment is based upon Qualification Standards as well as specific hiring and training requirements.
Other distinctive components of EPAP are:
- Consistent with the federal application process, EPAP applicants must clearly demonstrate during the application process that they meet or exceed the EPAP requirements (“Qualification Standards”) of the position(s) for which they are applying. See section “How to Apply.”
- Certain EPAP positions may be eligible for administrative promotions. See section “Administrative Promotion.”
- With the exception of IRM, which has mandatory training requirements, functional training is highly encouraged based on the list of approved courses and, when authorized, will include funding for travel, per diem, and salary if attending training in-person. Travel to Washington, D.C. will not be authorized for virtual training, regardless of the employee’s post. See section “Training.”
Regional bureaus are each allotted a portion of 400 centrally-funded EPAP positions. Additionally, the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) funds up to 50 Information Management (IM) positions and the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) funds up to 30 Facility Management positions. When an EPAP position becomes vacant, the position returns to the regional or functional bureau, which will determine where to next allocate the position, based upon the bureau’s regional needs.
In addition to these centrally-funded positions, individual posts have the option to create post-funded positions with prior approval from their regional or functional bureau. A post-funded position remains with post, provided post can entirely fund the position and associated training.
EPAP positions include the following areas: Political, Economic, Management, Public Diplomacy, Facility Management, Human Resources, Financial Management, General Services, Information Management, Office Management, and Medical.
Meeting the AEFM Eligibility Definition
To be eligible to be hired in an EPAP position, individuals must meet the definition of an AEFM as described in 3 FAM 7120. Those who meet all of the following are considered to be AEFMs for employment purposes:
- Is a U.S. citizen;
- Is the spouse or domestic partner (as defined in 3 FAM 1610) of a sponsoring employee (i.e., a Direct Hire Foreign Service (FS), Civil Service (CS), or uniformed service member who is or will be assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under Chief of Mission (COM) authority, or at an office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT);
- Is listed on one of the following:
- Travel orders of a sponsoring employee who is assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under COM authority, or at an office of the AIT, or
- An approved Form OF-126 signed by an authorizing official from the agency’s headquarters, Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (or other agency equivalent) of a sponsoring employee who is assigned (not TDY) to a U.S. mission abroad under COM authority, or at an office of the AIT, and is residing at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment abroad;
- Does not receive a U.S. Government retirement annuity or pension from a career in the U.S. Foreign Service or Civil Service;
- Is not a Foreign Service Generalist or Specialist in Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status;
- Is not a Civil Service employee with re-employment rights to his/her agency or bureau (see 22 U.S.C. § 3950).
GCLO is aware that civil service applicants on orders and/or in transition (e.g., civil service employees still working in the Department or on LWOP) may not be able to immediately meet the AEFM definition at the time of their application. GCLO reminds those applicants that they may apply, however they will be required to resign from their civil service appointment if selected for an EPAP position. Foreign Service Generalists or Specialists on LWOP are not eligible for EPAP positions unless they resign from their positions. Such resignation must be effective at the time of their EPAP application and consequently their status should meet the AEFM definition when applying. CS and FS annuitants are not eligible regardless of their employment status.
Applicants must provide the required documents to prove their eligibility at the time of application. See Checklist page for mandatory and optional documents. Incomplete application packages will not be considered, and supplemental documentation will not be accepted after the vacancy announcement has closed.
Additional Eligibility Requirements Include:
- EPAP positions are full-time positions unless otherwise specified. As with all EFM appointments, availability may be a factor.
- AEFMs must be able to obtain the appropriate level of security clearance within nine months of acceptance of the position. Candidates must be able to maintain the required clearance level during their employment.
- Additional items that may be considered when determining successful candidacy include nepotism, conflicts of interest, advancing the work of the mission, etc.
Applicants in the categories below receive a hiring preference in the order listed. Therefore, it is essential that these applicants accurately describe their status on the application. Failure to do so may result in a determination that the applicant is not eligible for a hiring preference.
Hiring Preference Order:
- AEFM who is also a preference-eligible U.S. Veteran*
* IMPORTANT: Applicants who claim status as a preference-eligible U.S. Veteran must submit a copy of their most recent DD-214 (“Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”), equivalent documentation, or certification. A “certification” is any written document from the armed forces that certifies the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions within 120 days after the certification is submitted by the applicant. The certification letter should be on letterhead of the appropriate military branch of the service and contain (1) the military service dates including the expected discharge or release date; and (2) the character of service. Acceptable documentation must be submitted in order for the preference to be given.
EPAP Qualification Standards
The February 10, 2020 Qualification Standards supersede those of previous cycles and continue to be effective for applications submitted via the 2021 USAJOBS.gov announcement and going forward. The 2020 Qualification Standards offer a wide range of grades and take into account the fact that some applicants possess professional experience in lieu of or in addition to specialized experience. Before applying for a position, EFMs should carefully review these standards. Applicants should ensure that their application package is complete and that it clearly demonstrates that they meet or exceed the stated qualifications.
Note to Applicants Who Previously Qualified for EPAP Positions
As stated in the Qualification Standards, applicants who have been successfully employed in an EPAP position for 12 months or longer and who can document fully satisfactory performance will be considered qualified for the same EPAP position at the same grade or at a higher grade depending on the length of service. Applicants must submit two SF-50s to document 12 or more months of experience in an EPAP position and fully satisfactory performance appraisal(s) with a JF-57 covering 12 or more months of service. Please note, this does not apply to positions in OBO and MED. Past or current EPAP employees should be mindful that regardless of their current or past EPAP status, they need to document their eligibility and qualification (education transcript and resume showing experience) in addition to the two SF-50 and the JF-57. Doing so will ensure eligibility and qualification review.
Please refer to the Qualification Standards for more information.
Training for Information Management Positions
AEFMs hired into EPAP positions in Information Management must successfully complete approximately six weeks of required online courses, within 20 weeks after Entrance on Duty (EOD).
Certain training requirements may be waived if an AEFM demonstrates that he/she passed the vendor-specified tests related to that requirement. Since training for EPAP Information Management Associates is required, those accepted into the program should make every effort to meet this requirement. Applicants may contact IRM-EPAP@state.gov for more information. Current EPAP Information Management Associates should contact IRM-EPAP@state.gov within thirty days after EOD to ensure they have the information needed to begin their online coursework.
Training for Other Positions
AEFMs hired into non-IM EPAP positions will benefit from EPAP-approved training specific to their assigned position. See “List of Approved Courses.“ For additional and updated information regarding the currently available courses and delivery mode, please contact GCLOAskEPAP@state.gov.
All EPAP employees should discuss training options with their supervisor and post training officer within the first 45 days of their EOD. The agreed upon training plan should be listed in the employee’s Work Requirement Statement. EPAP employees and their supervisors should make every effort to complete the training plan taking into account the mission’s needs and availability of funds (Central GTM, IRM, OBO, or post).
How to Apply
Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) who would like to be considered for one or more positions must submit an application via the centralized USAJOBS vacancy announcement (Opening soon) or directly at post when/if an EPAP position is advertised separately. AEFMs may only submit applications for positions that are listed as available at their sponsor’s post of assignment.
2023 USAJOBS Spring/Summer/early Fall Positions
The regional and functional bureaus (i.e., IRM and OBO), will soon create a list of EPAP positions that will become available early 2023 through September 2023. These positions will be advertised via a vacancy announcement on USAJOBS.gov (Opening soon). Positions that will not be filled through this announcement or that will become available in fall/winter 2023 will be advertised at a later date by individual posts.
Each bureau can only fill up to the number of vacant positions allocated within the centrally-funded positions cap. However, more positions than the centrally-funded number may be advertised to give maximum flexibility to applicants, bureaus and posts in seeking good matches for the positions and meeting the mission’s needs.
2023 Post-Advertised Positions
Positions that are not filled through the spring/summer/early fall USAJOBS announcement or positions that will become unfilled after the USAJOBS vacancy closes, will be returned to the regional or functional bureaus (IRM and OBO) for reassignment. Bureaus may advertise unfilled positions directly at post.
Applying on USAJOBS.gov
Step 1: Review Documents
- For general information:
- 2023 EPAP Vacancy Announcement Guidance (State Department Cable coming soon)
- List of available EPAP positions for Spring/Summer/early Fall 2023:
- EPAP Qualification Standards
- Checklist: How to Prepare for USAJOBS EPAP Vacancy Announcement
- For additional support with a federal resume, contact a Global Employment Advisor (GEA).
Step 2: Get Informed About USAJOBS and Get Started
- Create an account with USAJOBS and create your resume using the USAJOBS resume builder. Watch the webinar, Qualify on Paper, hosted by GCLO’s Global Employment Initiative, which covers how to demonstrate qualifications on a federal resume whether applying for a job at post or on USAJOBS.gov for an EPAP or other federal position.
Step 3: Apply via the USAJOBS.gov Vacancy Announcement (dates to be determined)
- When the EPAP vacancy announcement goes live on USAJOBS, click on the “apply online” button.
- Follow the instructions. You will be transferred to the State Application Site (“Gateway to State”) where you will answer questions that relate to:
- your eligibility,
- qualifications, and
- position selection.
- Attach your USAJOBS resume and upload your EPAP documentation (per the Checklist guidance) that is saved under your USAJOBS profile.
- AEFMs may only apply for EPAP positions that will be available at the sponsoring employee’s post of assignment.
- EPAP positions are full-time positions unless otherwise specified. As with all EFM appointments, availability may be a factor.
- Due to formatting requirements, the USAJOBS announcement will list only one grade (FP-07) on the landing page. In order to be fully informed, AEFMs should review the EPAP webpage list, which details each position title and its corresponding grade(s) and clearance. The applicant’s grade will be determined by HR specialists, based on the offered grade(s) for each selected position(s) and based on the applicant’s ability to demonstrate he/she qualifies.
- Specific positions will be viewed in the USAJOBS vacancy announcement after the applicant has confirmed the regional bureau to which the sponsor has been assigned.
- Applicant must verify that the required documents have been successfully transferred from the USAJOBS site to State Application Site prior to the announcement deadline. Please allow at least three to four hours to complete the application package and ensure that the State Application Site shows that that the application package is attached. To avoid being affected by occasional USAJOBS or State Application Site system outages, applicants are encouraged not to wait until the deadline to submit an application.
- No submissions will be accepted after the vacancy announcement deadline.
Applying Directly for Off-Cycle Position at Post
Follow the vacancy announcement instructions and send your application package to the regional bureau as instructed in the vacancy announcement. See review process below, which remains the same regardless of how the EPAP vacancy is advertised.
Whether EPAP positions are advertised via USAJOBS.gov or at post, the required eligibility and Qualification Standards remain the same.
Step 1: After the vacancy announcement has closed, each EPAP application package will be reviewed by the appropriate regional bureau. The application package should include documents that prove eligibility and documents that establish qualification (see Checklist to determine which documents are required and which documents are optional). Each bureau will determine if the applicant meets the AEFM eligibility requirement and if the applicant has successfully documented their application to enable further qualification review.
Step 1A: Applicants who fail to submit documents proving their AEFM eligibility or who submit an incomplete package will receive an automated response from USAJOBS or a notification from the bureau.
Step 1B: Applicants whose application package provides the documents needed for their qualification review will be forwarded to:
- Posts, or,
- The appropriate functional bureau (for IRM, MED, OBO positions).
Step 2: After receiving the application package, post HR or IRM, MED or OBO will review the application and determine whether the applicant meets or exceeds the Qualification Standards. As with other EPAP-qualified applications, qualified IRM, MED, and OBO applications will be forwarded to post HR.
Step 3: Post HR will conduct any required testing for all qualified applicants. Candidates who pass the required testing will be invited for an interview. Hiring preference is applied in the following order:
- AEFMs who are also preference-eligible U.S. Veterans
To ensure the hiring preference is applied correctly, a member of the Post Employment Committee (PEC) will attend all interviews. Generally, this is the CLO, unless they are a candidate for the position. The hiring supervisor or selecting official, in coordination with the PEC and HR will rank-order interviewed candidates. The PEC will review the decision, and if the decision is upheld, it will be sent for concurrence by the Front Office or designee.
Step 4: Post HR then informs the bureau of the rank order of the interviewed applicants.
Step 5: The regional bureaus, in coordination with IRM, MED, OBO, where appropriate, review the top candidate’s qualifications, confirm the grade and step at which the selected candidate qualifies and make all final hiring and salary decisions.
Step 5A: The bureau extends a conditional offer to the selected AEFM.
Step 5B: The EPAP candidate must respond to the conditional offer within three business days. Upon acceptance from the selected applicant, post follows up and sends a non-selection letter via email to the candidates who were interviewed but not selected.
Step 6: For the selected applicant, post then initiates the required security clearance process (interim and complete) and requests an anti-nepotism review, if required. See FSFRC section for applicants who are FSFRC members. Upon receipt of instructions, selected candidates must promptly complete and submit any required documents needed for their security clearance. When/if the required clearance has been granted, the regional bureau sends an Authority to Hire cable to post and the selected candidate may begin work.
Current employees may submit a request for a reasonable accommodation via the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM) Next Employee Portal. Family members unable to access the portal should contact their post’s Human Resources Officer or GTM’s Office of Accessibility and Accommodations (OAA) at OAA@state.gov. Please allow sufficient time for processing requests.
Length of Service
Candidates generally serve up to the maximum of their sponsoring employee’s tour of duty, provided sufficient funding is available, and their supervisor documents their performance annually as fully successful or better. Per 3 FAM 7120, a Family Member Appointment cannot exceed 5 years.
Individuals in EPAP positions must be given and use only approved position titles:
- EPAP Political Associate, EPAP Economic Associate, EPAP Management Associate, EPAP Public Diplomacy Associate, EPAP Facility Management Associate, EPAP Financial Management Associate, EPAP Human Resources Associate, EPAP General Services Associate, EPAP Information Management Associate, EPAP Office Management Associate.
- Medical EPAP positions: EPAP Medical Laboratory Scientist/Medical Technologist; EPAP Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant; EPAP Registered Nurse; EPAP Physician and EPAP Psychiatrist.
Individuals in EPAP positions must not use the words “Foreign Service Officer” or “Foreign Service” or “Officer” or “Acting” or “Assistant” in their position titles.
EPAP incumbents, unless they are separately accredited, do not have the same status as U.S. Foreign Service employees. Rather, such family members have derivative privileges and immunities, i.e., deriving from the sponsoring employee’s status. Such status imposes a de facto limitation on what family members may do on the job and how they represent post.
Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC)
AEFMs are not required to be members of the FSFRC in order to apply for EPAP positions. For additional information, visit the FSFRC webpage.
Security Clearance Requirements
EPAP applicants do not need to hold a valid security clearance at the time of application; however, selected candidates are required to obtain the appropriate security clearance for the position before they can begin their appointment. The post HRO or the regional bureau will initiate the clearance process with Diplomatic Security and will require prompt cooperation and input from the candidate. If the candidate does not complete the eQIP documentation within 10 business days of being notified to do so, the regional bureau may rescind the offer of employment. The candidate may not start work until they receive a minimum of an interim security clearance consistent with guidance from GTM Overseas Employment and post.
Individuals hired into EPAP positions are employed on a Family Member Appointment (FMA). The regulations governing FMAs in 3 FAM 8200.
Qualifying and Hiring Grades for EPAP positions
Single grade versus multiple grade positions:
Position grades range from FP-07 to FP-01. EPAP applicants need to check the advertised list of positions and corresponding grade(s) at which they are offered.
Positions advertised at a single grade level may only offer a starting salary and step within the advertised grade. Positions advertised with more than one possible grade will offer a starting salary based on the determination at which the candidate [applied for and] is found qualified.
Determining the qualifying/hiring grade:
The regional bureau will determine the grade at which post’s selected candidate(s) qualifies. Such determination will be based on:
- The grade(s) at which the position is advertised and,
- The applicant’s education and experience required for each position grade as listed in the Qualification Standards
When the applicant meets the minimum requirements (combination of education and experience) as listed in the Qualification Standards, the regional bureau will extend a conditional offer of employment at Step 1 of the position’s advertised grade for which the applicant qualifies.
Determining additional steps within the Qualifying/Hiring Grade:
1. Qualification Standards and grade range:
Within the grade for which they qualify, EPAP candidates will be appointed minimally at Step 1, but they will receive one additional step for each full year of professional or specialized experience (specific to the position for which the candidate applied) that exceeds the minimum requirement as listed in the Qualification Standards.
Please note that EPAP salary determination is based on a complete review of education and experience. This determination is done in lieu of Superior Qualification Review (SQR), not in addition to SQR.
2. Highest Previous Rate (HPR):
Per 3 FAM 8216.2 and per GTM/OE’s Policy on Pay Settings for AEFMs and EFMs (as of 08-23-2018), AEFMs may be appointed at higher than Step 1 of the grade of the position based on the HPR earned on a prior federal government appointment. HPR is based on the highest grade and step previously earned while on a full-time or part-time appointment for a continuous period (without a break in service) of at least 90 calendar days. In no circumstances may the starting salary exceed Step 14 of the position’s grade. If post HRO determines that a candidate is eligible for HPR, post HRO’s will submit to the regional bureau the candidate’s initial and final Notification of Personnel Action SF-50.
In situations where both HPR and additional steps for professional or specialized experience may be applicable, the regional bureau’s HR specialist will determine whichever method grants the highest step within the grade the candidate is found qualified. Under no circumstance may both methods be used cumulatively. The starting salary may not exceed Step 14 of the qualifying grade and the applicant may not receive a higher hiring grade than their qualifying grade.
Conditional Offer of Employment:
Once the regional bureau’s HR specialist has made the final determination of the applicant’s grade and step (through application of HPR or though determination of education and additional steps per year of experience, as appropriate), the regional bureau will extend to the applicant a conditional offer confirming the qualifying/hiring grade with a starting salary.
Such offer is final and the applicant is requested to respond to the offer within three business days of receipt otherwise the bureau will rescind the offer.
Individuals hired will accrue leave at a rate based on their length of service. They are also able to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). They also earn Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) after 52 weeks of service overseas.
Individuals hired are eligible to receive danger pay, if applicable. However, no other payments are authorized (e.g., cost of living allowance, post differential, temporary lodging, living quarters, transfer, home service transfer, education, language incentive pay, separate maintenance allowance, advance of pay, home leave, Rest and Recuperation). No other entitlements may be granted (e.g., shipment of HHE, UAB) other than those already granted to the sponsoring employee.
Those hired into positions at unaccompanied posts must be included on their sponsoring employee’s travel orders.
Employee Performance Reports
Individuals hired into EPAP positions should receive performance evaluations for the period March 15 to March 14 each year (rather than based on entry-on-duty dates) using the Employee Performance Report (EPR) (Form JF-57).
Administrative promotion is available to EPAP employees whose positions were advertised with a grade range.
Consequently, EPAP employees hired under a grade range for Political, Economic, Management, and Public Diplomacy areas may receive an administrative promotion from FP-06 to FP-05 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance, and an administrative promotion from FP-05 to FP-04 after an additional 18 months of fully successful or better performance. The performance appraisal must cover at least 12 months via a regular or interim performance appraisal (JF-57 EPR Employee Performance Report).
Following the implementation of the 2019 Qualification Standards:
- Those hired in Information Management positions under the 2019 cycle (and later) may receive an administrative promotion from FP-06 to FP-05 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance in current position, completion of the required training requirements, and upon confirmation from the functional bureau, IRM.
- Those employed in Human Resources, General Services, and Financial Management areas under the 2019 cycle (and later), may receive an administrative promotion from FP-05 to FP-04 after 18 months of fully successful or better performance in current position.
- Those employed in Office Management under the 2019 cycle (and later), may receive an administrative promotion from FP-07 to FP-06 after 12 months of fully successful or better performance in current position.
Completion of the time-in-grade requirements does not automatically convey the right to a conversion/promotion. The grade conversion may be effective only after:
- The most recent regular or interim performance appraisal (JF-57 EPR Employee Performance Report) has a summary rating of fully successful or better and,
- The supervisor has determined that the employee has the ability to perform at a higher grade with more responsibilities.
Grade conversion is not an entitlement. Upon determining that the employee demonstrates the ability to perform at a higher grade, the supervisor must submit a request for the new grade through a memo to Post HR. The memo will certify that the incumbent’s performance has been fully successful or better since the last formal review and that the employee has demonstrated the ability to perform at the next grade level. Post HR will follow up with the regional bureau’s EPAP coordinator via an SF-52 to request the promotion. EPAP applicants are reminded that they are responsible for seeking their supervisor’s review for administrative promotion. They should initiate this conversation at least one month prior to their anniversary date as promotions are not automatically granted or retroactively applied.