(Replaces SOP 134E, dated 4/5/12, and SOP 134E1 dated August 18, 2014)

SUBJECT: Salary Standards for Limited Non-Career Appointment Foreign Service Consular Adjudicators, effective July 16, 2015

PURPOSE: To provide procedures for determining the entry-level salary for Foreign Service Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA/LNA) Candidates hired in accordance with 3 FAM 2293.


The Office of the Registrar is responsible for determining the entry-level salary (grade and step) that the candidate is offered based on the candidate’s qualifying experience, education, and, as appropriate, current salary. Salary review/appeal procedures are covered by SOP 134D1 dated August 18, 2014.

Determination of Grade and Step

A candidate’s grade and step determination are based on the combination of their level of education and their years of qualifying experience (QE), as provided in the chart below:

Education Full Years of QE Grade/Step
Bachelor’s Degree 0 FP-6/Step 1
1-10 FP-6/Step 2-6
Master’s or Law Degree 0 FP-5/Step 1
1-10 FP-5/Step 2-6
Doctorate 0 FP-5/Step 2
1-10 FP-5/Step 3-7

The vacancy announcement for Foreign Service Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment positions states that successful candidates will be appointed at one of the grade levels specified, i.e., either FS-6 or FS-5. Successful candidates will be offered the highest grade/lowest step as justified by the candidate’s education at the time the offer is made. Additional steps will be granted for each two full years of qualifying work experience (see below), up to a maximum of five steps. For example, a candidate with a bachelor’s degree plus eight years of qualifying work experience is awarded a salary level of FS-6, Step 5.

All degrees must be from accredited institutions. Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal job requirements if the candidate can show that the foreign education is comparable to education received in the United States. A bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree, received from an accredited institution after the Registrar has sent an offer of employment, but before the candidate has been sworn in as a Consular Adjudicator, will be credited for grade and salary determination upon submission of evidence of the degree to the Registrar.

Calculation of Qualifying Experience

Qualifying experience is calculated up to the date the Registrar sends the appointment offer to the candidate. In no case will more than 40 hours of qualifying experience be credited for any one-week period, regardless of the type of work performed, the number of jobs held, the hours worked or the employment status (self-employed or other). Qualifying experience that is part-time work will be prorated. When all of a candidate’s qualifying experience is totaled, no credit will be given for periods of less than a year, e.g., a total of four years and eleven months of qualifying experience is credited as four years.

For the purposes of this SOP, qualifying work experience can be in any field, but does not include clerical or wage-grade work, or any other work not usually requiring a bachelor’s or higher degree. The employee’s primary duty must be, or must have been, the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, which is defined as work that is predominantly intellectual in character and that includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. Advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. Acquisition of a foreign language is not in itself treated as advanced knowledge. Additionally, credit for supervisory oversight is awarded only where management or supervision is a part of an individual’s official job duties. Volunteer work not meeting these conditions will not be credited.

Work performed by active duty U.S. military commissioned officers is considered qualifying experience; work performed by U.S. military personnel who are not commissioned officers is not considered qualifying experience unless it meets the above definition of qualifying experience.

Of particular relevance for qualifying work experience would be employment in the following fields: foreign affairs; legal or paralegal affairs; regulatory or governmental affairs; consular affairs; foreign assistance or international development; translation or interpretation services; and, teaching at the high school level or above.

Matching Salary Consideration

For CA/LNAcandidates appointed without a break in service of more than three days from other federal government civilian direct-hire employment, in which they served for more than 90 days, the entry-level salary should be the result of whichever of the following computations is more favorable to the candidate:

  • The step within the Foreign Service grade to which the candidate is appointed, as determined above based on level of education and years of qualifying experience; or
  • The step within the Foreign Service grade to which the candidate is appointed that is nearest to, but not less than, the candidate’s current federal salary at the effective date of appointment to the Foreign Service, using the Foreign Service “Overseas” Salary Table as the basis for comparison. If the current federal salary is too high to be matched in the grade for which the candidate is qualified, step 14 of that grade is the starting salary. Locality pay for Washington D.C. will be considered part of the current salary for those federal government civilian direct-hire employees currently receiving Washington D.C. locality pay. Federal government civilian direct-hire employees who do not receive Washington D.C. locality pay will not be allowed to include locality pay as part of their current salary.

For candidates who are not appointed directly from other federal civilian employment but who previously held a federal government civilian direct-hire position, their highest federal salary will be considered for purposes of salary matching.

Candidates must submit a copy of an SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action for proof of their current or prior federal civilian direct-hire employment.

Salary matching will not be considered for CA/LNA candidates who do not have current or prior federal civilian direct-hire employment.