Hiring Mechanisms to Employ Family Members in U.S. Missions Overseas

Employment Inside the U.S. Mission

FMA - Family Member Appointment 

This is a Department of State hiring mechanism. Those eligible to be hired under the FMA are U.S. citizen spouses, or unmarried U.S. citizen children ages 18 to 21. These individuals must be on orders accompanying a career Foreign Service or Civil Service employee or uniformed service member at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The FMA is the preferred appointment for family members and carries employee benefits including life and health insurance, retirement and thrift savings eligibility. See “Eligibility Earned Under Government Appointments” below. Download the FMA Brochure (pdf)

Once EFMs have worked a minimum of 52 weeks in an overseas FMA or TEMP qualifying position (although it does not have to be 52 consecutive weeks of employment), they may qualify for Non-Competitive Appointment Eligibility. Executive Order 12721 enables certain EFMs to be appointed non-competitively to the Civil Service once they return to the U.S. Those individuals may be appointed to any federal occupation and grade level for which they are qualified. For more information, see FAQ’s: Executive Order Eligibility 12721.

TEMP - Temporary Appointment
The TEMP hiring mechanism is a direct hire appointment. It is a Temporary Appointment for periods not to exceed one year and can be renewed in increments not to exceed one year. A TEMP appointment is appropriate only when the job itself is not ongoing and is of short duration. Those eligible to be hired under the TEMP Appointment are U.S. citizen spouses, or an unmarried U.S. citizen children ages 18 to 21. These individuals must be on orders accompanying a career Foreign Service or Civil Service employee or uniformed service member at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and under Chief of Mission authority.

PSA - Personal Services Agreement 
This is a Department of State hiring mechanism that can be used for non-U.S. citizen EFMs, Members of Household, U.S. Resident Hires, and Overseas Summer Hires.

PSC - Personal Service Contract
The PSC mechanism is used by USAID and Peace Corps. The PSC is subject to government contracting authorities and does not confer retirement benefits or USG service credit.

Note about security clearances: Once a federal job offer has been made, EFMs are eligible to receive an interim security clearance. Upon leaving a federal job, an EFM’s security clearance may be revalidated within two years after vacating the position. Security clearances go with the position not the person. For more information on security clearances please visit www.state.gov/m/ds/clearances or email securityclearance@state.gov.

Employment Outside of the U.S. Mission 

Important issues to keep in mind:

Chief of Mission approval - Any family member who accepts a position on the local economy must obtain a work permit (where applicable) and notify and receive approval from the Chief of Mission before they can start work.

Cultural awareness - Different countries have different behavioral customs, dress codes, and hierarchical dynamics in the workplace. Individual countries even have different resume requirements! Family members should be aware of the cultural “norms” before sending out their resumes and scheduling interviews.

Language requirements - Jobs on the local economy in your host country may require family members to speak, read and/or write in the local language.

Local salary levels - In many countries, local salaries are lower than U.S. salaries, and family members should consider this before they search for jobs outside the Mission.

Local taxes - Family members might be required to pay local taxes.

Security concerns - Should be considered (e.g. if safety is an issue when commuting to work it might not be wise for family members to work on the local economy).

Please note: The preceding information is only a thumbnail sketch. Federal hiring mechanisms are complex and may have different implications depending on the employment history of the individual. Please consult an experienced human resource counselor and the complete regulations in 3 FAM 8200.

This information is specific to Foreign Service employees and their families. 

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office