Accreditation

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 and IOs are required to notify the Department promptly of the arrival/appointment and termination of duties of all members of the staff of foreign missions and IOs, including all locally employed staff and part-time employees, and members of their families. Foreign missions and IOs 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 government and IO personnel in the United States and are essential to continued enjoyment by personnel of the rights, privileges, and immunities which they enjoy in the United States. In the case of children born in the United States to foreign diplomatic agents, embassy staff, consular officers and employees, and other foreign mission members of international organizations in the United States, the Department may need to make a determination regarding acquisition of United States citizenship. In addition, because information is distributed to the public for various purposes, the Department wishes to ensure that this information is as accurate as possible, particularly for publications (i.e., the Diplomatic List) and for providing guidance to law enforcement and other federal, state, and local officials, as appropriate.

The notification of all employees, including U.S. citizens and LPRs, 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-FMMA@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. Please direct questions relating to these individuals to the Office of the Chief of Protocol at diplomaticaffairs@state.gov.

This guidance does not address rules relating to the pre-notification and employment of domestic workers by foreign mission members. Please direct related questions to the Office of the Chief of Protocol at domesticworkers@state.gov.

For rules specific to employees accredited to or employed by the United Nations, please visit the website of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at http://usun.state.gov.

Rules specific to the notification and recognition of honorary consular officers will be addressed by OFM in a separate circular note. Please direct questions to OFM at honoraryconsul@state.gov.

Rules specific to the establishment of career consular posts will be addressed by OFM in a separate circular note. Please direct questions to OFM at OFMProperty@state.gov.

Rules specific to the establishment of miscellaneous foreign government offices (MFGOs) and the registration of MFGO employees will be addressed by OFM in a separate circular note. Please direct questions to OFM at OFMProperty@state.gov.

Rules specific to visa classification, qualification, and domestic visa renewal policy, including facilitation with changes or extensions of status, are determined by the Office of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Please direct all questions relating to visas to the Visa Office at diplomaticvisas@state.gov.