Consular Fellows Program

The Consular Fellows Program offers candidates a unique opportunity to serve their country, utilize their foreign language skills, and develop valuable skills and experience that will serve them well in follow-on professions.

Foreign Service Consular Fellows serve in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas alongside Foreign Service Officers, other U.S. agency personnel, and locally-employed staff. Using their language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, or Russian, their primary duty is to adjudicate visas for foreign nationals. Duties and responsibilities are similar to those of entry-level career Foreign Service Officers. While at post, Consular Fellows are members of the embassy or consulate community and receive many of the same benefits that career Foreign Service members receive, such as housing and educational allowances for eligible family members. View a more detailed description of the type of work involved and benefits provided.

Consular Fellows are hired via limited non-career appointments (LNAs)*. The Consular Fellow LNA appointment is for 60 months, but may be terminated at any time depending on satisfactory performance and the needs of the Service. Consular Fellows may terminate their appointment at any time with 30 days’ notice. However, if they choose to do so before completing a total of 12 months of service at post, they are obligated to repay certain costs associated with their travel, transportation, and other relocation allowances, unless the termination is triggered by circumstances beyond their control, as deemed by the U.S. Department of State.

New hires who commit to a four-year service agreement will be eligible to receive a recruitment incentive of up to 10% of their basic salary.  This incentive would be paid in two installments: one upon completion of the first two-year assignment, and the second at the end of 48 months of consecutive service. In addition, Consular Fellows may be eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) at any post in which they serve when they sign an initial three-year service agreement.  For more information on the program, click here.

These are paid, non-career positions. The Consular Fellows program, similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program, is not an alternate entry method to the Foreign Service or the U.S. Department of State, i.e. this service does not lead to onward employment at the U.S. Department of State or with the U.S. government. Consular Fellows are welcome to apply to become Foreign Service Specialists, Foreign Service Generalists, or Civil Service employees, but they must complete the standard application and assessment processes.

If you have additional questions about the Consular Fellows Program, please visit the Consular Fellows forum and post a message.

If you’re ready to apply, please visit Test Information and Selection Process.

While overseas work with the State Department may appear glamorous with overseas travel to exotic locations, government-provided housing, and generous pay and benefits, service abroad can be challenging and sometimes dangerous. Health and sanitation facilities in foreign countries may be limited, air and water quality may not be up to U.S. standards, sporadic power and water outages may occur, internet service may be unreliable and/or expensive, and access to U.S.-branded goods may be limited. We seek motivated individuals who can maintain their composure, while continuing to exercise sound judgment – even in the face of potentially stressful circumstances and living conditions.

The Department of State will place language-qualified U.S. citizen Consular Fellows serving in Limited Non-Career Appointments (LNA) in country-specific posts with high visa workloads. These fellows will serve as professional members of embassy and consulate workforces. Limited appointments, however, do not provide expedited, alternate, preferential, or otherwise “special” access into either the Foreign Service or the Department of State Civil Service – these appointments do not lead to onward employment with the Department of State, or with the U.S. government. Consular Fellows may apply to become Foreign Service Specialists or Generalists, as well as Civil Service employees, but they must meet all applicable qualifications and complete the standard application and assessment processes.

A U.S. Consular Fellow who issues a visa for admission to the United States is required by law to personally certify in writing that he or she has performed the necessary visa lookout check, a process that includes (but is not limited to) reviewing returns from Facial Recognition checks and from Automated Biometric Identification and Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System fingerprint clearances; checking the Consular Lookout and Support System and other appropriate post records; and reviewing nonimmigrant visa and immigrant visa case notes and any other post files for information that would render an applicant ineligible for a visa.

Service time and benefits earned as a Consular Fellow can be counted as federal employment, and credited towards federal retirement eligibility.

Consular Fellows who subsequently enter the Foreign Service as Entry Level Generalists are still required to fulfill the consular service requirement.

Periodic service rotating as an embassy or consulate duty officer requires a 24/7 commitment, typically for a one-week (six night) period of time.

Successful candidates who earn a job offer must be able to pass the Basic Consular Training Course. Failure to successfully complete this training would constitute grounds for separation.

Candidates earning a job offer must be able to obtain medical, security, and suitability clearances, including a country-specific clearance for the locale(s) of assignment. Suitability may include a review of specific factors of an employee’s appropriateness for assignment to a specific post, including, for example, whether the candidate has an immediate family member still residing in the country of proposed assignment, or whether the candidate’s spouse, children, parents, etc. have such a relationship.

Additional benefits include: Tax Free Housing Overseas, Tax Free Educational Allowance for eligible family members, overtime compensation, Accrual of Annual and Sick Leave, Life Insurance, inclusion in the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan (FEHB), inclusion in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), and the possibility of hardship pay (where applicable), and Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) for civil service hiring (additional requirements may apply). Details about these benefits can be found at https://careers.state.gov. Not all benefits are applicable to LNA positions. For example, the Language Incentive Pay program is not included under the Consular Fellows program when proficiency in a specific language is a hiring prerequisite.