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2022 Professional Associates Program for Appointment Eligible Family Members

  • The 2022 Professional Associates Program application window is now closed.

Program Background

The regular Foreign Service assignments process invariably leaves some overseas positions without sufficient qualified Foreign Service bidders. These positions are designated Hard-To-Fill (HTF) and are open to Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) and to Department of State Civil Service employees. Positions are usually announced in the spring by cable. AEFMs may only apply for positions at the posts listed if their sponsoring employee is currently assigned there. They must commit to serve in the position for a minimum of one year.

Foreign Service direct-hire employees can continue to bid on these positions and receive priority. Qualified AEFMs are given preference over equally qualified Civil Service employees. Veterans are given preference in the selection process.

Note: The Professional Associates Program is different from the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP). For more information, go to the EPAP webpage.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for the Professional Associates (PA) program, applicants must be the AEFM (defined in 3 FAM 7120) of a direct hire government employee from any agency under Chief of Mission authority assigned to a full time position at an overseas post. Members of Household (MOH) and family members of contractors are not eligible.

Professional Associates Program Selection Process

Global Talent Management/Career Development Administration (GTM/CDA) convenes Qualifications Evaluation Panels (QEP) that review applications from AEFMs and from Civil Service employees for relevant experience and skills, including foreign language proficiency if the position requires. AEFMs without supervisory experience will not be considered for positions with supervisory responsibilities. A representative from the Global Community Liaison Office (GCLO) participates in the QEP as a non-voting member.

AEFMs who are certified as qualified by the QEP are notified by the PA Coordinator and their application materials are forwarded to the regional bureaus for consideration for the vacancies for which they have applied. Selections are made by the bureaus. Qualified AEFMs should contact the bureau Executive Officer directly to express their interest and to discuss their qualifications. Interested applicants must meet the additional minimum qualifications.

Note: Eligibility Requirement for Information Resource Management Positions

  • AEFMs should have specialized experience working with computers, upgrading, repairing, replacing hardware and software components; or working with network devices, switches and routers; or performing Sys-Admin functions such as mail server maintenance; adding, deleting and assigning users to roles and providing direct assistance to customers, patch management and server maintenance; configuring or administering virtual network environment; the cloud; telecommunications or voice communications; information security; or Program Management for IT projects or Data Analytics experience. Interested AEFMs may request the additional information from

How To Apply

Application packages must include:

(a) An updated federal resume or curriculum vitae. Consistent with the federal application process, Professional Associate applicants must clearly demonstrate that they meet or exceed Professional Associate requirements. GTM’s Global Community Liaison Office (GTM/GCLO) Global Employment Advisors (GEA) can assist AEFMs with developing a federal resume. View the GEA contact list and learn more about GCLO’s Global Employment Initiative (GEI).

(b) Form DS-174 Department of State Application for Employment as a Locally Employed Staff or Family Member. The form can be found on the internet or in myData if applicant has access to OpenNet.  Be sure to include all relevant work experience you wish to be considered. Use additional pages, if necessary. List HTF 2022 for the vacancy announcement number.

(c) Evidence of relevant training, education, and/or experience for the position.

(d) A signed and dated cover memorandum with the following language:

“I am applying for position X (include POST/TITLE/POSITION NUMBER/GRADE/SKILL CODE/LANGUAGE/AVAILABILITY, My sponsoring employee, (name), is assigned to (post) until (month/year).  If selected, I commit to serve in the position for at least one year and I acknowledge that all leave would have to be approved by my supervisor.”

(e) A copy of the sponsoring employee’s assignment cable/notification or approved form OF- 126 signed by an Authorizing Official in GTM/EX/IDSD) listing the applicant by name as a dependent, the sponsoring agency, and current or upcoming post of assignment.

(f) Employee evaluation reports from previous federal employment.

(g) If applying for an International Relations Officer, General (IROG), Political Officer (POL), Economic Officer (ECON), or Public Diplomacy (PD) position, please provide a writing sample, which can be a recent memorandum or report. Please ensure that the sample is of an unclassified nature.

The application package should be scanned and sent electronically to Please ensure that all documents are provided in a single email, each as a separate attachment. Do not submit documentation in multiple emails. All attachments should be labeled accordingly (e.g., application attachment should be labeled “Application” or “Form DS-174” and include the last name).

Length of Tours 

Length of tour will be tied to the original tour length of the sponsoring employee. Should your sponsor extend, there is no guarantee that you will retain your employment as there may be a FS employee who has been assigned to the position. You must commit and be able to serve at least one year. On the effective date of hire (not the date of the conditional offer), the candidate’s sponsoring employee must have at least one year remaining on his/her tour of duty.

Guidelines for Applicants

Selected AEFMs are required to obtain the appropriate security clearances for the position of assignment prior to appointment. Professional Associates are appointed using the Family Member Appointment (FMA) mechanism in most cases. The regulations for FMAs are in 3 FAM 8200. Salary, including grade and step, is determined by a Human Resources Specialist with experience in setting FS salaries. Professional Associates hired under a FMA will receive Overseas Foreign Service Comparability pay and will accrue leave at a rate based on their length of service.  Professional Associates on a FMA will be able to pay into the Thrift Savings Plan, FEGLI, FEHB, and FERS. They may also be eligible to receive Non-Competitive Executive Order 12721 Eligibility after 52 weeks of government service. GCLO’s Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) web page contains information about Executive Order 12721 eligibility, regulations and FAQs.

There is no mechanism for the conversion of a Professional Associate to career FS. AEFMs selected for a position will not be able to convert to the career Foreign Service at the end of a tour.

Security Clearances 

Applicants must be able to obtain the appropriate security clearance level. If the candidate cannot obtain the required clearance in time to comply with the one-year requirement, the bureau will rescind the offer of employment.


If required, Foreign Service Institute training, including language, may be provided.

Cautionary Notes

The FS positions in this notice remain open to eligible FS bidders until the date the assignment can be finalized. However, once an offer has been extended and accepted by an AEFM, the assignment will be considered finalized. AEFMs are not eligible for mid-level Consular Officer positions.


Please send queries to GTM-CDA-PDU-OCSA@STATE.GOV if you have any questions.

U.S. Department of State

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