Last updated Nov. 2015
A-3 and G-5 nonimmigrant visas are specifically for domestic worker employees of foreign diplomats and international officers. A-3 and G-5 visas are very similar. The only difference is the nature of the employer’s work or mission in the United States. The A-3 visa allows entry for the attendants, servants, and personal employees of a diplomat or foreign government official. The G-5 visa is designated for attendants, servants, and personal domestic workers of an employee working for a designated international organization, such as the United Nations or the World Bank, “and the members of the immediate families of such attendants, servants, and personal employees.” Both visas are initially valid for up to three years, and may be extended in two-year increments. However, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) standard and customary practice is to issue domestic worker visas for a period that does not exceed the validity of the visa held by the employer; usually the maximum is 24 months. Extensions are available for both visas. There is apparently no maximum number of years an individual may work with either an A-3 or a G-5 visa. There is no annual cap. Even so, the number is relatively small compared to other nonimmigrant work visas. In 2012, less than 2,000 new visas were issued for both groups of workers combined. Most A-3 and G-5 workers are from Asia and Africa. The Philippines is the country that sends the most workers to the United States on A-3 and G-5 visas. In the wake of numerous reports related to the underpayment, abuse and human trafficking of A-3 and G-5 workers, Congress passed extra protections for them in the 2008 reauthorization of the Trafficking and Victims Protection Act. DOS thereafter implemented guidelines for its consular officials specifically addressing protections for A-3 and G-5 visa applicants. These include, for example, a mandatory employment contract with various terms requiring, for example, that the employer pay a required wage and all transportation costs. While having an employment contract in place prior to starting a job benefits foreign workers generally, once A-3 and G-5 workers are in the U.S. there is no system in place to make sure their employers are complying with the contract terms. DOS is charged with oversight; however, to date, the agency has avoided any role in contract enforcement. Further complicating the issue, many employers of A-3 and G-5 workers are diplomats often protected by diplomatic immunity, limiting the ability to seek redress for contract violations in U.S. courts. One government official has even noted that “[t]here is no way any [nonimmigrant domestic workers] are being paid” the prevailing wage. As with most other nonimmigrant visas that authorize work in the U.S., A-3 and G-5 workers are vulnerable to the extent that their immigration status is tied to their job placement.