Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials
With the exception of a Head of State or Government who qualifies for an A-1 visa regardless of the purpose of his or her visit to the U.S., the type of visa required by a diplomat or other government official depends upon his or her reason for entering the U.S.
To qualify for an A-1 or A-2 visa, the applicant must be traveling to the U.S. on behalf of his or her national government to engage solely in official activities for that government. The fact that there may be government interest or control in a given organization is not, in itself, the defining factor in determining whether or not the applicant qualifies for an A visa; the particular duties or services to be performed must also be of an inherently governmental character or nature. Local government officials representing their state, province, borough, or other local political entity do not qualify for "A" visa status; they require B1 or B2 visas. Note: Qualified A visa applicants traveling to the U.S. for assignments of less than 90 days will be issued visas annotated "TDY" (temporary duty).
Government officials traveling to the U.S. to perform non-governmental functions of a commercial nature or traveling as tourists require the appropriate H, L or B visa; they do not qualify for diplomatic visas.
Important note: Foreign officials who intend to travel to the U.S. on official business must obtain an "A" visa prior to their entry. They cannot travel on tourist visas, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
Please note that diplomats and foreign government officials cannot receive an official visa in a personal passport. For more information, please see here.
The U.S. Embassy in Panama accepts applications from diplomats and foreign government officials traveling on official passports Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and from 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Friday 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. without a prior appointment. If an applicant in these categories is traveling for official business to the U.S., then (s)he does not have to pay the visa application fee and does not need to appear in person to apply. A diplomatic note must accompany such applications. Generally, the visa will be ready for pick-up three (3) to five (5) business days after the U.S. Embassy receives the application.
For information about how to apply for U.S. non-immigrant visas in Panama, please contact our call center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays, at 836-6171. Or visit our new visa information website for the most recent guidance.